Death at a Funeral (2010) – Review

August 19, 2010 in All, Comedy by Ralph

I’m actually a huge fan of the original Death At A Funeral directed by Frank Oz, and was amazed that just a couple of years after it’s release, there was an American version being made… what!? Herein lies the problem with remakes… are they necessary? In this case, no, this was a carbon copy of the original which was arguably funnier and better directed. I don’t mind having remakes of older films (at least a decade) and foreign films, but to remake an already English film that’s only 3 years old… just seems like a waste to me. But with what seemed to be a great cast, I was willing to give it a shot.

Aaron (Chris Rock) is a well-mannered and hard working young man, married to Michelle (Regina Hall), and still living at his father’s home. When his father dies, it is up to Aaron, the oldest son, to organize the funeral and give the eulogy. The funeral takes place in his father’s home and Aaron tries to put on an appropriate expression on his face to welcome his relatives, including his famous writer brother Ryan (Martin Lawrence), and his father’s friends. But preserving a civil atmosphere will be a hard thing to do, especially, when from the very start, the undertaker makes a horrifying mistake. Ryan commands all the attention, one of the guests (James Marsden) takes a halucinagenic drug prior to arriving, and a host of other family complications add to what should be a sorrowful event. But those incidents are only minor compared to the information that Aaron and Ryan get from Frank (Peter Dinklage) the mysterious dwarf who is attending the funeral and nobody seems to know.

Director Neil LaBute hits all the marks in a script that was written by Dean Craig (the writer of the original) that doesn’t stray too far from its source. In fact I think that was the most disappointing thing about the movie. Scene for scene, shot for shot, Death at a Funeral seemed way too familiar. The director took a few liberties,  but for the most part it’s the same damn film.

The cast by name alone, is pretty impressive, with Chris Rock leading as Aaron the straight laced brother trying to hold it all together. Martin Lawrence, Tracy Morgan, Luke Wilson, and James Marsden round off the comedic circle. Performances were exactly what you’d expect from most of the talent, although Luke Wilson felt oddly out of place, and not nearly as funny or creepy as Ewen Bremmer from the original. Also, Peter Dinklage returns to the same role as the father’s gay partner… once again illustrating that there are just too many similarities between this film and its original. One of the big problems with using big names like Martin Lawrence, Chris Rock, and Tracy Morgan is that none of these actors have any range. Each one does his own schtick that we’ve seen a hundred times before, and it gets tired after a while!

Death at a Funeral (the original) was a well crafted, intelligent, and funny film that really didn’t need to be remade. I understand wanting to bring good foreign films to a broader audience, but this unnecessary remake just cheapens the original. In my books, British does not spell foreign… we speak the same friggin’ language. Unfortunately, there is absolutely nothing new to see in this remake, and it can easily be classified as a waste of time.

If you haven’t seen the original, and have no intention on seeing it, your enjoyment levels might be a little higher than mine… but I highly reccommend the original if possible. Either way, Death at a Funeral is a funny film, and despite my personal issues with this remake, its worth seeing

So here are the facts. Both films made money when you add up their foreign and domestic numbers, with the British version making about 5M more than the American. The British version worked with a budget of 9M whereas the US version worked with a budget of 21M… hmmm.

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