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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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Anthony Zaccaria: At the same time that Martin Luther was attacking abuses in the Church, a reformation within the Church was already being attempted. Among the early movers of the Counter-Reformation was Anthony Zaccaria. His mother became a widow at 18 and devoted herself to the spiritual education of her son. He received a medical doctorate at 22 and, while working among the poor of his native Cremona in Italy, was attracted to the religious apostolate. He renounced his rights to any future inheritance, worked as a catechist and was ordained a priest at the age of 26. Called to Milan in a few years, he laid the foundations of three religious congregations, one for men and one for women, plus an association of married couples. Their aim was the reform of the decadent society of their day, beginning with the clergy, religious and lay people. 
<p>Greatly inspired by St. Paul (his congregation is named the Barnabites, after the companion of that saint), Anthony preached with great vigor in church and street, conducted popular missions and was not ashamed of doing public penance. </p><p>He encouraged such innovations as the collaboration of the laity in the apostolate, frequent Communion, the Forty Hours devotion and the ringing of church bells at 3:00 p.m. on Fridays. </p><p>His holiness moved many to reform their lives but, as with all saints, it also moved many to oppose him. Twice his community had to undergo official religious investigation, and twice it was exonerated. </p><p>While on a mission of peace, he became seriously ill and was brought home for a visit to his mother. He died at Cremona at the age of 36.</p> American Catholic Blog Lord, help me make my life more about you and less about me. May others see you in me—your image and likeness. Teach me ways to increase my time with you, my service to others, and my love for my family, for strangers, and for the poor. You are the light in the darkness. With each new day, may we be light to one another.

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