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.”
            Oh.  OK.  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 door.
            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 Presbyterian Church, Greenville , Texas