One of Kevin Hart’s overlooked and underrated comedies, Death at a Funeral, is about to leave Netflix, so if you haven’t seen it, you may want to take a peek soon; the movie goes away on February 1.
Now, to be fair, Death at a Funeral is an ensemble piece, with Kevin Hart being a small part of the ensemble. The 2010 comedy is based on the 2007 British comedy of the same name. In fact, the 2010 version was written by Dean Craig, who also penned the original 2007 Death at a Funeral.
The movie tells the story of two brothers, Aaron (played by Chris Rock) and Ryan (played by Martin Lawrence) who just lost their father. His wishes were to have his funeral at his home, which is how the movie begins. The opening scene sets the tone for the rest of the movie. In it, Kevin Hart (who plays Brian, the family friend funeral director) delivers the coffin for Aaron to view before family and friends arrive. When the casket is opened, the wrong body is in it. Hart and Rock play the scene to perfection, from timing to facial expressions, and immediately lets the audience know they are in for a good time.
The remainder of the movie follows the same blueprint as the original. Ryan is a successful author and Aaron is a struggling one, unable to get his first novel published. The resentment Aaron holds is because Ryan would rather spend money on luxury items rather than kick in money for their father’s funeral. As things begin to settle in for the funeral, a mysterious guest arrives. Not knowing who he is Aaron approaches him and the man named Frank then explains to him that he is Aaron’s father’s secret lover. What is truly comical about it is that Frank is played by Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones, Pixels). As proof, Frank shows Aaron pictures of the two together. If you haven’t seen the original 2007 version, Dinklage played the same part in that movie though his character was called Peter. Frank is there for one specific reason. Blackmail. He threatens to expose the secret affair if Aaron doesn’t come up with $30,000.
The remainder of the movie is a series of miscalculations, misunderstandings, and misuse of drugs that fuels the comedy. If you like your humor more on the dark side (i.e., black comedy), then Death at a Funeral will be right up your alley.
Kevin Hart doesn’t have a huge role in Death at a Funeral but when he made the film, that was where his career was at. He was an up-and-coming comedian who was headlining stand-up shows but slowly building his acting resume. Before Death at a Funeral, Hart had appeared in similar smaller roles, popping in for a few funny scenes. He had small roles in Scary Movie 3 and Scary Movie 4, and then more small roles in movies such as Along Came Polly, Soul Plane, The 40-Year-Old Virgin, and more parody comedies such as Epic Movie, Superhero Movie, and Extreme Movie.
Kevin Hart was also releasing comedy albums at the time, his first coming with the 2008 I’m a Grown Little Man and then the 2010 Seriously Funny. His star was beginning to rise by the time he appeared in Death at a Funeral. It wasn’t long after that Hart started to become the movie star we know him as today when he starred in films such as Think Like a Man and its sequel, Grudge Match, Ride Along and its sequel, The Wedding Ringer, Get Hard, and Central Intelligence.
While Death at a Funeral was a faithful remake of the 2007 Frank Oz-directed original, it ultimately didn’t fare well with critics, checking in with a 43% Rotten Tomatoes rating. Now if we were to send the movie through our Giant Freakin Movie Score algorithm it’d end up with a solid 5. The movie was much more popular with audiences than it was with critics, though one big-name critic loved the movie. Roger Ebert gave the movie 3 ½ stars out of 4 and said of the movie, “This is the best comedy since “The Hangover,” and although it’s almost a scene-by-scene remake of a 2007 British movie with the same title, it’s funnier than the original.”
Take Roger Ebert’s word for it (and ours for that matter), check out Death at a Funeral before Netflix does away with it.