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Review “Death at a Funeral”

Director Neil LaBute, known for his serious and dramatic films, takes comedy head-on with his revamped version of Frank Oz’s British film, “Death at a Funeral.”

Though the film centers on a family mourning their father’s death, there were many laughs.

Chris Rock plays an unpublished writer named Aaron who finds out that his father’s casket has been switched for another man’s. To make matters worse, his wife, Michelle, (Regina Hall) and mother, Cynthia, (Loretta Devine) do not take the mix-up very well.

But it’s Norman (played by Tracy Morgan) and Uncle Russell (Danny Glover) who provide the best comedy lines in awkward situations, which the movie uses well.

As if the drama wasn’t already building, Oscar (James Marsden) and Elaine (Zoe Saldana), intensify the commotion when an anxious Oscar accidentally takes a hallucinogenic to calm his nerves.

There are big shocks, including a man demanding money from the family to keep the father from surfacing. And despite comedic elements, the movie smoothly portrays how each family member copes with the death, including when Ryan (Martin Lawrence) uses his “mourning” card to get out of uncomfortable situations.

According to reuters.com the movie, which was released Friday, brought in about $17 million over the weekend to debut at No. 4 in box office sales.

While it may have played well with audiences, some critics were not as pleased with the film. Mary Pols of time.com said, “Many of Death at a Funeral’s jokes aren’t funny at all and some of its actors give clunky performances or downright unpleasant ones.”

Perhaps baltimoresun.com said it best: “The swings between sentimentality and excrement are pretty wild. But seeing all these good, resourceful actors mix it up has its satisfactions.”

For more information, visit www.sonypictures.com/movies/deathatafuneral.