The Friday Movie Blog

How funny is Death at a Funeral? Is Galaxy Quest far out?

Death at a Funeral
(R, 2010)
Is anyone feeling as stressed as I am right now? For me, it isn’t taxes—got those done a few months ago (Turbo style). Maybe it’s the allergies. While I love the warmer climates, I am really getting tired of breathing out of one nostril (too much information?). Maybe it’s my foray into home buying. Or maybe it’s just my continued disdain for Jane Seymour’s Open Heart mural on South Street. But really, there isn’t any one source of my generalized anxiety. All I know is that I’m stressed and need some cathartic laughs. Death at a Funeral, I’m happy to say, could not have come at a better time.[SIGNUP]

The original Death at a Funeral was released in 2007. Directed by Frank Oz (In & Out, What about Bob?), it perfectly captured British sense and sensibility—bawdy, broad humor with a dash of decorum (or lack thereof). It was a wholly successful comedy that did not seem ripe for remake. Further, with the same screenwriter and an unexpected director, Neil LaBute—the man responsible for some of the most acerbically acidic works on film and stage—it could have been an utter disaster. Yet, the stiff-upper-life spectacle effectively translates into an American farcical romp.

Spanning a few hours, the film follows Aaron (Chris Rock) and Ryan (Martin Lawrence) as they deal with their father’s funeral, their brotherhood animosity, the gathered extended family, and the appearance of a strange man (Peter Dinklage). What’s so refreshing about this movie is that it focuses on characters. While plot and storyline do manage to elbow their way in at times, the filmmakers get you deliriously lost in the successive, comedic vignettes. Like It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World—the real treasure is in the journey…and its incomparable cast. Along with Rock and Lawrence, Danny “I’m gettin’ too old for this shit” Glover, Zoe Saldana, Tracy Morgan, and James Marsden shine in their parts. (For some of you, Marsden’s rooftop nude scenes will be reason enough to buy your ticket.)

Normally I shy away from crowded theaters, preferring instead to see movies during off times. Because, essentially, crowds stress me out. But this movie should be seen with a full audience. There is something wonderful about being surrounded by people’s laughter. Smiling from ear to ear, you get utterly absorbed in the movie, forgetting what’s going on in your life—if just for a little while. Even I, after leaving the theater, felt less anxious.

And then I saw Jane Seymour’s mural again. (In theaters; click here to find a where it’s playing near you.)
My Grade: B

Galaxy Quest
(PG, 1999)
Tonight will be epic. For the first time in weeks, I have absolutely nothing to do. At precisely 5:34 p.m. I will commence putting on pajamas. At 5:41 p.m. I will lay on the couch. At 6:30 p.m. (after catching up on last week’s so-bad-it’s-good Spartacus: Blood and Sand) I will watch Galaxy Quest. Well, perhaps I’ll speed-dial Tiffin, order some butter chicken, and then watch Galaxy Quest.

Much like Clue, Princess Bride, and Ghostbusters, I know Galaxy Quest by heart. I know when my favorite lines are coming up: “let’s get out of here before one of those things kills Guy.” I know that Rainn Wilson (pre The Office) had a small part as a Thermian. I even know that the aliens are called Thermians. I love GQ because it’s my feel-good movie. It’s that movie that I know so well, I needn’t think or pay attention—but will laugh in the exact same spots every time. It’s stupendous.

So take my advice, have an epic night like me. If you haven’t seen it, see it! I guarantee you will like it. And if you don’t… well…then you can’t have any of my naan. (On video.)
My Grade: A

Rent It:
Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans (R, 2009). Much like its star Nicolas Cage, you are either going to love or hate this movie. While I fall in the latter category, it will not stop me from recommending this Werner Herzog film, which is more performance art than cinema. My Grade: C-

Queue It: American Movie (R, 1999). Years ago, I found this movie whilst browsing the shelves at my local Blockbuster—I immediately fell in love. It’s a must-see documentary that chronicles a modern-day Ed Wood struggling to complete his horrifically horrible horror opus. (And yes, dear reader, you will then covet my Coven t-shirt, given to me by a friend years ago. Thanks Julie!). My Grade: A