AUGUST 12, 2010

Before this review begins, I want to first state how exhausted I am with Hollywood and the need to remake films. “Death At A Funeral” was a British comedy released in 2007. Three years later, the same exact film is released with a different cast, set to the backdrop of a Tyler Perry film. The same is being done with “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” franchise starring Daniel Craig and tentatively Emma Watson. These films were just released last year (2009). I do not even support redoing films even further in the past like “The Nightmare on Elm Street” franchise. But the shortening timespan between remakes is getting absolutely ridiculous.

“Death At A Funeral” is the Tyler Perry version of the 2007 British comedy (Perry actually has nothing to do with this film…as far as I know). Biases towards remakes aside, the film comes off better than anticipated with a nicely stacked cast and enough of the original story to keep the film interesting.

Chris Rock, Martin Lawrence, and Tracy Morgan are the dream team of comedy. Unimpressed with Morgan’s latest release, “Cop Out,” his performance in “Death At A Funeral” somewhat redeems himself, apart from the fact that he cannot escape this childish comedy with getting splattered in the face by his uncle’s feces and obsessively worrying about a rash on his arm. Chris Rock and Martin Lawrence are the brothers who lost their father. Their interactions and arguments, though repetitive, are the highlights of the film, with both comedians playing off of each other effectively. Rock’s dry delivery and Lawrence’s over the top antics make a priceless dynamic.

Zoe Saldana brings a sense of sophistication to the film, as she normally does, while her fiancé in the film, James Marsden, is the exact opposite. Marsden is the subject of the comedy throughout the film, starting out nervous to meet Saldana’s father and being fed what the entire family mistakes for Valium, which turn out to be acid tablets. Marsden hallucinates his way through the funeral and alienates himself from the family completely, all while Luke Wilson tries to win back Saldana unsuccessfully, despite words of encouragement from Saldana‘s father.

Drug use is a huge factor in the film, and though I do not discern the humor, I do realize that situations like borrowing family member’s drugs do exist and see how that could cause laughs. However, the idea that half the family takes one person’s Valium is extremely far-fetched and loses me, adding to the childish nature of the film.

For those that did not notice, Dean Craig is the writer for both versions of the film, giving almost the exact same storylines to both versions and even carrying Peter Dinklage over to reprise his role from the original. The fact that the remake is acknowledging the existence of the first film is mildly less intrusive and merits at least a small portion of credit since most remakes completely disregard the existence of an original.

“Death At A Funeral” is one of those films where a viewer will either laugh until tears or fail to find the humor, myself being the latter. Though Chris Rock and Martin Lawrence fit the film perfectly, the antics of the characters are lost in translation. Perhaps there is a charm that only the British can bring to “Death At A Funeral,” but without having seen the original, I am left anticipating (but not really) the Hispanic remake of “Death At A Funeral” in three years or less (completely joking… hopefully…).

April 16, 2010

Neil LaBute

Dean Craig

“Death At A Funeral”
by Dean Craig

Screen Gems

(for language, drug content and some sexual humor)

92 minutes

Rogier Stoffers

Christophe Beck

Tracey Wadmore-Smith

Chris Rock
Martin Lawrence
Danny Glover
Regina Hall
Peter Dinklage
James Marsden
Tracy Morgan
Loretta Devine
Zoë Saldaña
Columbus Short
Luke Wilson
Keith David
Ron Glass
Kevin Hart

Sidney Kimmel
William Hordberg
Chris Rock
Share Stallings
Laurence Malkin

$21 million

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