The Burial Review:
You know those times when you just want to kick back and enjoy a movie that feels like a comforting slice of your favorite pie? Well, “The Burial,” directed by Maggie Betts, is precisely that – a throwback to ’90s inspirational courtroom drama with a dash of extreme comedy. It’s the kind of film that, despite its quirks, offers the simple pleasure of pure entertainment. But what makes it truly delightful? It’s the dynamic duo of Jamie Foxx and Tommy Lee Jones.
1: The Burial Review: The Playful Yet Wonky Elements
Now, let’s get this out of the way – “The Burial” isn’t your typical legal drama. It’s a rollercoaster ride filled with ups and downs. The film has its quirks, like slightly underdeveloped characters, an oddly framed rivalry, and an ending that might leave you wanting more. But here’s the catch: despite these quirks, it’s an absolute crowd-pleaser.
1.1: The Unlikely Partnership
The story kicks off with Jeremiah O’Keefe, a broke owner of multiple funeral homes and a burial insurance business. He embarks on a journey with his long-time lawyer, Mike Allred, to Vancouver, BC, with the hope of selling three funeral homes to CEO Ray Loewen. Sounds straightforward, right? Wrong. A deal is struck on Lowen’s yacht, but four months pass, and the contract remains unsigned. It’s here that the young attorney, Hal, Jeremiah’s family friend, smells something fishy. He suspects that Loewen is playing a waiting game, hoping Jeremiah’s business crumbles, making the entire funeral home chain a steal. Hal convinces Jeremiah not only to sue but to do it in the predominantly Black Hinds County. This is where the plot gets seriously fun.
2: The Race Factor and The O.J. Simpson Shadow
In a world filled with films attempting to tackle complex racial issues within the span of a feel-good story, “The Burial” stands apart. It doesn’t try to solve all the world’s problems in its 126-minute runtime. It’s not about healing Jeremiah’s guilty conscience either. Instead, the film shifts the spotlight onto Jamie Foxx’s character, Willie E. Gary. This might just be one of Foxx’s most vibrant and funny performances.
2.1: Character Development
Willie, a flashy personal injury lawyer, is the real star of the show. On the other hand, Jeremiah is more functional – a reserved personality with a big family and a business to run. Willie’s wife, Gloria, and Jeremiah’s lawyers, Hal and Mike, also play functional roles without much character depth. The film introduces Mame Downes, a distinguished attorney hired by Loewen, to combat the racial aspect of the case. The dynamics between Mame and Willie are intriguing, creating sharp courtroom tactics and compelling performances.
3: The Southern Touch and Cultural Humor
While “The Burial” isn’t exclusively about race, it’s an ever-present theme. Set against the backdrop of the O.J. Simpson trial, the film doesn’t shy away from the South’s grim racial history. The National Baptist Convention adds depth and emotion to the story, highlighting the frustrations and aches embedded in the narrative.
Now, here’s where the film truly shines. It revels in culturally specific Black humor, and it’s downright hilarious. Willie is a character you can’t help but love – gaudy, out of his depth, and self-effacing. Jamie Foxx nails every aspect of this character, from his flamboyant style to his rhythmically meaningful speech. The showdown between Foxx and Bill Camp at the film’s climax is a masterclass in layered acting.
3.1: The Cinematic Elements
Doug Wright and Betts’ screenplay is comedy gold, with witty lines that’ll leave you in splits. The costume designer, Mirren Gordon-Crozier, deserves a special mention for the rich and extravagant outfits that add a visual layer of humor to the film.
4: The Burial’s Impact on Courtroom Comedy
“The Burial” is a unique blend of comedy and courtroom drama. It breaks away from the conventional formula and offers a fresh take on legal battles. While it’s not your typical courtroom drama, it has a charm that’s hard to resist. Despite being in the company of Oscar contenders, “The Burial” manages to stand out.
4: The Recipe for Success
The film has all the ingredients of an Oscar-friendly movie: two legendary Academy Award winners, Jamie Foxx and Tommy Lee Jones, headlining the cast. It’s a courtroom drama that delves into themes of race and injustice, boasts the talent of up-and-coming director Maggie Betts, and is based on a true story. It’s a recipe for success that delivers an entertaining cinematic experience.
5: A Unique Dive into Real-World Issues
“The Burial” is more than just a courtroom drama; it’s a deep dive into real-world issues. It exposes a system rigged against the underprivileged. Unlike some films that tackle corporate greed in a satirical manner, “The Burial” takes a different approach. It seamlessly balances humor and poignant moments.
5: The Journey of “The Burial”
It’s worth noting that “The Burial” had quite a journey getting to the big screen. Amazon Studios spent five years trying to make it happen, with Alexander Payne originally attached to direct. While it’s been a long road, the end result is a film that, despite its imperfections, has a powerful impact.
6: Unforgettable Performances
Jamie Foxx’s performance as Willie E. Gary is nothing short of outstanding. He effortlessly brings out the comedic and dramatic dimensions of his character. Foxx captivates the audience and proves why he’s one of Hollywood’s most talented actors.
Jurnee Smollett, in the role of Mame Downs, is another highlight of the film. Her portrayal of a corporate lawyer unwilling to back down is both powerful and charismatic. In her scenes opposite Jamie Foxx, she almost steals the show.
6.1: Tommy Lee Jones’ Enduring Presence
Tommy Lee Jones, known for his gruff and pessimistic roles, shows he’s still got it. While he may not match the charismatic energy of his co-stars, his performance is far from lackluster. Jones proves that he’s a reliable actor even when the material may not be top-tier.
7: A Genre in Need of Reinvention
In a world where courtroom dramas like “Anatomy of a Fall” and “Just Mercy” have expanded the genre’s horizons, “The Burial” adds a unique chapter. It’s a film that breaks away from the tried-and-tested courtroom drama formula and offers something refreshingly different.
Conclusion: The Ultimate Courtroom Comedy
In conclusion, “The Burial” is a film that defies conventions and serves as a testament to the power of outstanding performances. It’s not a flawless film, but it’s an outrageously entertaining one. Director Maggie Betts crafts a narrative filled with empathy, humor, and life, ensuring that despite its imperfections, “The Burial” leaves a lasting impression.
So, if you’re in the mood for a courtroom comedy that doesn’t take itself too seriously, with unforgettable performances from Jamie Foxx and Tommy Lee Jones, “The Burial” is the movie to watch. It’s a blend of humor, heart, and history that makes for a perfect movie night.