Sign in using your account with
Death at a Funeral: Great Ensemble, Dismal Results
An urbanised remake of a 2007 British comedy of the same name, Death at a Funeral does not land a single genuine laugh. A pointless remake of an average film, Death at a Funeral plays like a comedy with a crippling lack of confidence, relying on a shiny ensemble of talented comedians to bring it to life. Unfortunately, the film doesn’t seem to have a heart to begin with: it’s mechanical, calculated and at best; childish.
The death of a father brings his family together at his funeral. The event itself has no apparent impact on the characters, but it ties the multiple story threads together, reuniting the two sons (Rock and Lawrence) that have been estranged for years. Add to the mix some extended family members such as the senile old uncle (Glover), and a niece (Saldana) chased by her ex-boyfriend (Wilson); and you have enough subplots to make the tension quite colourful.
When the funeral starts, so does the madness. A bottle of valium makes the rounds, but no one seems to notice that it’s really filled with acid pills. The casket appears to have a tendency to open at the most hilarious moments, and an unannounced guest drops a bombshell that you’ll see coming a mile away.
Chris Rock’s on-stage comedic talents have never fully translated to the silver screen. His performances suffer from misplaced earnestness that always rings as desperate and immature. He has no reservations about exposing his vulnerability, as opposed to his co-star Morgan, who plays the same bumbling, loud-mouthed buffoon in every film, never exposing the least bit of humanity. That detached larger-than-life persona plays to his advantage on 30 Rock, where he’s basically a walking punch line-dispensing machine; but when he’s positioned as an actual human, his biggest strength turns against him.
What’s most frustrating about Death
at a Funeral is its lack of investment: the film doesn’t bother to explore
the plot’s potential beyond the obvious poop joke and embarrassing slapstick.
Most of the quirks generate from the narrow dynamics of an average sitcom, and they
become tiresome after the 20-minute mark; the average running time of a sitcom
Death at a Funeral has a callousness that is not only mind-numbing; it’s also infectious.
The local church choir in Pacashau, Georgia come in second at the regional competitions every single year. Luckily for them, though, their main rivals are disqualified and they get a chance to compete at the nationals. G.G. (Parton), the church’s main benefactor, and Vi Rose (Latifah), the choir leader, have to put aside their rivalry and turn their choir into a serious contender for the national title. Vi Rose wants to stick to their tried and tested choir staples, while Randy (Jordan), G.G.’s troublesome grandson who happens to have a thing for Vi Rose’s daughter Olivia (Palmer), wants to freshen things up with some reworked pop songs and choreography.
While some may argue that originality is dead, no genre is more vulnerable to that notion than comedy, which has always been prevalent in Egyptian Ramadan TV. One only has to look to polarising TV personality and prankster, Ramez Galal.
Appearing for the fifth consecutive time on TV screens during Ramadan, Galal’s latest shenanigans present nothing new – in fact, one could argue that this year’s show, Ramez Wakel El Gaw, is one of the poorest yet; even the opening credits have come to be uniform. A grand orchestral intro makes way for nonsense music with nonsense lyrics. Galal – who lends his vocals to the opening credits – begins each episode in the same way, weaving in some banter at the expense of the celebrity that he’s about to prank.
The concept of the show is that each unsuspecting victim is summoned to a mystery business meeting in Dubai via plane. The prank? It's simple: convince the celebrity in question that the plane is experiencing engine failure and that they are about to die? Tasteless? Maybe. Unfunny? Almost certainly. Galal and co also pepper the celebrity’s ride with smaller, more infantile mini-pranks – serving strange-tasting coffee and spewing unpleasant odours in the plane.
As mentioned, the main prank itself is significantly weaker and cruder than that in previous series. In addition, episodes are shorter, while the show misses the opportunity in making the most of their guests – a sit-down and interview would give the show much more value, for examples. In fairness, however, the disguises and make-up that Galal uses during the pranks isn’t half-bad and there’s a certain guilty pleasure in seeing what he’ll look like in the next episode.
As always, the pay off in a show like this is how the celebrity responds to the revelation of the prank and this series has thus far seen some pretty angry and over-the-top reactions, with one particular episode featuring former belly-dancing star and actress, Lucy, requiring an inordinate amount of bleeping. Galal was even the victim of a pretty firm kicking at the hands of another unimpressed guest.
Galal shows have always received criticism, but viewing figures have always proven the popularity of them; like him or loathe him, people are always talking about him. This year, though, despite Paris Hilton featuring in an upcoming episode, there isn’t as much buzz; this is partly because of the emergence of other Ramadan prank shows, but could Egypt finally be tiring of his antics? Only time will tell.