The Awkwardly Humorous and The Awkwardly Disingenuous
Yes, “Death At A Funeral” is a literal re-make of a British film
released only three years ago. But
as one local promoter put it, “No, it’s not the same movie, because now
you have black people on the screen.”
But the two versions do have Peter Dinklage in common, as the
vertically-challenged dirty-little-secret homosexual lover of the deceased,
who shows up at the funeral wanting hush money from the grieving family.
And yes, the rest of the roles are just as caricatured:
the elder son of the deceased, Aaron (Chris Rock), sincerely
frustrated by the commercial writing success of his wastrel younger brother,
Ryan (Martin Lawrence), who privately confesses to being broke and publicly
leers at a teenager. The niece,
Elaine (Zoe Saldana) has a fiancée, Oscar (James Marden) who’s not
accepted by her father, the brother, and it doesn’t help when Oscar
accidently ingests hallucinatory drugs (she thought she was giving him a
valium to relax him). Derek (Luke Wilson) plays Elaine’s former suitor who
doesn’t want to give up, especially in the light of Oscar’s embarrassing
display of silliness, and shamelessly pursues her, even outside the bathroom
And it’s pretty much silliness throughout, as we in the audience
gasp with surprise at all the hijinks on the screen (at least as much as a
corpse falling out of a coffin can be considered humorous).
Yes, the context is a (home) funeral, but there’s enough
lightheartedness, even in Uncle Russell (Danny Glover), the irascible
curmudgeon, to be amused by this kind of slapstick shtick, no matter what
color the characters are.
“Kick-Ass” starts out using that awkward teenage humor (he’s a
nerd, his friends are nerds, he can’t get a date, he pretends to be gay so
he can spend time with his dream girl), then plunges into plenty of juvenile
innuendo, but not much action (that’s part of the angst, nobody’s
getting any). Then Dave (Aaron
Johnson) decides to become a Superhero, and dons a ridiculous costume and
gets his butt kicked while attempting to stop a crime.
His bionic rebuild emboldens him, though, to try again, thinking he
could take a lickin’ and keep on tickin’, and sure enough, he outlasts
the thugs, and then gains instant fame when someone puts the impromptu video
on YouTube. This attracts both
notoriety and copycats, but also a seriously vengeful “Big Daddy”
(Nicolas Cage), a former cop who was framed by the Mob who killed his wife,
and when he gets out of prison, he reclaims, and then carefully trains, his
young daughter Mindy (Chloe Grace Moretz) to be “Hit Girl.”
OK, now we’ve quit playing with Halloween costumes, and we’re
doing some serious wholesale slaying and slaughtering, yes, by a
foul-mouthed eleven-year-old. This
is not cute. This is
reproachful and reprehensible. Children
should not be subjected to this kind of role, either as actors or viewers.
This film is to be seriously avoided, even boycotted, by all who are
offended at such a crass, manipulative suspension of sensibility.
Do I sound like a preacher? That’s
because I am.
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, Pastor, Grace