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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Death at a Funeral

By
John Mulderig
Source: Catholic News Service

"Death at a Funeral" (Screen Gems), director Neil LaBute's Americanization of Frank Oz's 2007 British comedy of the same title, mostly seeks its laughs in the bedroom and bathroom. The results are predictably woeful, with LaBute and screenwriter Dean Craig—who also wrote the original film—largely wasting the gifts of a potentially winning cast.

This ensemble farce relates the various outlandish mishaps that befall estranged brothers Aaron (Chris Rock) and Ryan (Martin Lawrence) and a number their relatives and friends (notably James Marsden, Tracy Morgan and Danny Glover) as they all gather to bury the family patriarch.

Among the supposedly humorous developments delaying the obsequies are the insistent pleas of Aaron's wife, Michelle (Regina Hall), that the couple slip upstairs and take advantage of her fertility cycle to conceive their first child, and an incident in which Morgan's character helps Glover, playing wheelchair-bound and cantankerous Uncle Russell, to use the toilet, only to find himself the victim of a repulsive—and vividly portrayed—accident.

Another story line hinges on the played-for-laughs revelation of the deceased's concealed relationship with a mysterious stranger named Frank (Peter Dinklage), who now threatens to show incriminating photos to the widow (Loretta Devine) unless he's paid $30,000 in hush money.

Though Marsden initially has some daffy fun with the role of a future in-law who mistakenly takes a hallucinogenic, thinking it's Valium, by the time he ends up climbing around on the roof of the family home stark naked, it's pretty clear that "Death at a Funeral" is DOA.

The film contains frivolous treatment of adulterous homosexuality, rear and partial nudity, a drug theme, graphic scatological humor, sexual jokes and references, a half-dozen uses of profanity and frequent rough and crude language. The USCCB Office for Film & Broadcasting classification is O—morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R—restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

*****
John Mulderig is on the staff of the Office for Film & Broadcasting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.


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Andrew Dung-Lac and Companions: Andrew Dung-Lac was one of 117 people martyred in Vietnam between 1820 and 1862. Members of this group were beatified on four different occasions between 1900 and 1951. All were canonized by St. John Paul II. 
<p>Christianity came to Vietnam (then three separate kingdoms) through the Portuguese. Jesuits opened the first permanent mission at Da Nang in 1615. They ministered to Japanese Catholics who had been driven from Japan. </p><p>The king of one of the kingdoms banned all foreign missionaries and tried to make all Vietnamese deny their faith by trampling on a crucifix. Like the priest-holes in Ireland during English persecution, many hiding places were offered in homes of the faithful. </p><p>Severe persecutions were again launched three times in the 19th century. During the six decades after 1820, between 100,000 and 300,000 Catholics were killed or subjected to great hardship. Foreign missionaries martyred in the first wave included priests of the Paris Mission Society, and Spanish Dominican priests and tertiaries. </p><p>Persecution broke out again in 1847 when the emperor suspected foreign missionaries and Vietnamese Christians of sympathizing with a rebellion led by of one of his sons. </p><p>The last of the martyrs were 17 laypersons, one of them a 9-year-old, executed in 1862. That year a treaty with France guaranteed religious freedom to Catholics, but it did not stop all persecution. </p><p>By 1954 there were over a million and a half Catholics—about seven percent of the population—in the north. Buddhists represented about 60 percent. Persistent persecution forced some 670,000 Catholics to abandon lands, homes and possessions and flee to the south. In 1964, there were still 833,000 Catholics in the north, but many were in prison. In the south, Catholics were enjoying the first decade of religious freedom in centuries, their numbers swelled by refugees. </p><p>During the Vietnamese war, Catholics again suffered in the north, and again moved to the south in great numbers. Now the whole country is under Communist rule.</p> American Catholic Blog To replace our sins with virtues may seem like a daunting task, but fortunately we can follow the example of the saints who have 
successfully defeated these sins in their lifetimes. They provide us with a way forward so that we, too, can live holy, virtuous lives.

 
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