Chris Rock Can't Save Death at a Funeral Poop Jokes


Death at a Funeral
Directed by Neil LaBute
Screen Gems
Opens April 16

It doesn’t take much to improve the first Death at a Funeral, the flat Frank Oz–directed Britcom of 2007; a few tossed-off references to Jet and sickle cell anemia will do it. Though the plot of Dean Craig’s original script remains almost entirely intact (he receives the sole writer’s credit), the tweaks by star-producer Chris Rock—who replaces the pallid ninnies of London with a mostly African-American extended clan gathered in Pasadena to say goodbye to a deceased patriarch—yield some particularly sharp specifics. Rock plays elder son Aaron, whose successful-writer younger brother, Ryan (Martin Lawrence), has made his riches off books titled Mama’s Secret, Black Hurt, and Rhonda’s Tiny Box. Eulogizing Dad before learning about his life on the “waaaaay down-low” (Peter Dinklage reprises his role as the extorting secret boyfriend), Aaron refers to his father’s “love of Golden Girls, especially when it went into syndication.” But Rock’s interventions can’t compensate for excessive fealty to dumb gags involving watery poop and designer hallucinogens. Some cast members bring welcome controlled mania: Tracy Morgan, as a hypochondriacal friend of the family, further hones his logorrheic outbursts. Others, like Luke Wilson, as a scorned suitor of Zoe Saldana, are such null presences that they should have been in the original.

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I think that potty humor continues to be funny for the rest of your life. I used to believe that one day I would outgrow it but after seeing my parents laugh at inappropriate jokes, I know I'll always think it's funny. Sometimes I find myself reading jokes on the internet just to see what's new out there.


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