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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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John Paul II: “Open wide the doors to Christ,” urged John Paul II during the homily at the Mass when he was installed as pope in 1978. <br /><br />Born in Wadowice, Poland, Karol Jozef Wojtyla had lost his mother, father and older brother before his 21st birthday. Karol’s promising academic career at Krakow’s Jagiellonian University was cut short by the outbreak of World War II. While working in a quarry and a chemical factory, he enrolled in an “underground” seminary in Kraków. Ordained in 1946, he was immediately sent to Rome where he earned a doctorate in theology. <br /><br />Back in Poland, a short assignment as assistant pastor in a rural parish preceded his very fruitful chaplaincy for university students. Soon he earned a doctorate in philosophy and began teaching that subject at Poland’s University of Lublin. <br /><br />Communist officials allowed him to be appointed auxiliary bishop of Kraków in 1958, considering him a relatively harmless intellectual. They could not have been more wrong! <br /><br />He attended all four sessions of Vatican II and contributed especially to its <em>Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World</em>. Appointed as archbishop of Kraków in 1964, he was named a cardinal three years later. <br /><br />Elected pope in October 1978, he took the name of his short-lived, immediate predecessor. Pope John Paul II was the first non-Italian pope in 455 years. In time, he made pastoral visits to 124 countries, including several with small Christian populations. <br /><br />He promoted ecumenical and interfaith initiatives, especially the 1986 Day of Prayer for World Peace in Assisi. He visited Rome’s Main Synagogue and the Western Wall in Jerusalem; he also established diplomatic relations between the Holy See and Israel. He improved Catholic-Muslim relations and in 2001 visited a mosque in Damascus, Syria. <br /><br />The Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, a key event in John Paul’s ministry, was marked by special celebrations in Rome and elsewhere for Catholics and other Christians. Relations with the Orthodox Churches improved considerably during his ministry as pope. <br /><br />“Christ is the center of the universe and of human history” was the opening line of his 1979 encyclical, <em>Redeemer of the Human Race</em>. In 1995, he described himself to the United Nations General Assembly as “a witness to hope.” <br /><br />His 1979 visit to Poland encouraged the growth of the Solidarity movement there and the collapse of communism in central and eastern Europe 10 years later. He began World Youth Day and traveled to several countries for those celebrations. He very much wanted to visit China and the Soviet Union but the governments in those countries prevented that. <br /><br />One of the most well-remembered photos of his pontificate was his one-on-one conversation in 1983 with Mehmet Ali Agca, who had attempted to assassinate him two years earlier. <br /><br />In his 27 years of papal ministry, John Paul II wrote 14 encyclicals and five books, canonized 482 saints and beatified 1,338 people. <br /><br />In the last years of his life, he suffered from Parkinson’s disease and was forced to cut back on some of his activities. <br /><br />Pope Benedict XVI beatified John Paul II in 2011, and Pope Francis canonized him in 2014. American Catholic Blog Lord, may I have balance and measure in everything—except in Love. —St. Josemaría Escrivá

 
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