Chris Rock, Martin Lawrence, Tracy Morgan, Zoe Saldana, Regina Hall, Loretta Devine, Peter Dinklage, Columbus Short, Luke Wilson, Danny Glover, Keith David and James Marsden
Out to buy on Blu-Ray/DVD 27/09/10
"There is something you need to know about your father"
Organising the funeral of his father was never going to be an easy task for Aaron (Rock). With his mother Cynthia (Devine) inconsolable and his younger brother Ryan (Lawrence) far too busy living the life of a successful author living in New York, to be involved in making the arrangements or paying for anything, Aaron has everything on his shoulders. With the rest of the family arriving and the pressure of giving the eulogy getting too much, Aaron never expected to be greeted by Frank (Dinklage) who has something very important to tell him about his father.
Hollywood just loves to remake movies but when they decide to remake a film that was only released three years earlier you have to wonder why.
In 2007 director Frank Oz released a comedy called ‘Death at a Funeral’. Set in Britain, it was the story of a dysfunctional family who come together after the death of one of their most beloved members. Here, his son has organise the arrangements and gather the family together to grieve the lost of his father, it is the return of his famous brother that draws most of the attention however but the family could have never planned for the secrets that only death can reveal. This, of course, is played as a farce, a British institution of comedy and one that British actors excel in but when you hear that this is going to be remade by a cast of American actors you know that they are not going able to capture the same farcical style.
Director Neil LaBute one had a shining career and made films that made you stand up and notice him. Films like ‘In the Company of Men’, ‘Your Friends & Neighbours’ and ‘Nurse Betty’ rightly saw him become a director to watch but with the burden of the appalling remake of ‘The Wicker Man’ hanging around his neck, the director has to go a long way to step out of that shadow. For the 2010 American remake, LaBute has taken the essence of the original, transferred it to Los Angeles and brought in some comedy big hitters. Where the original played as a typically traditional English farce, this is an American comedy that struggles with the concept and just ends up been filled with toilet humour.
The cast that Neil LaBute has gathered together is one filled with talent but it is one that, in some cases, struggles with the material. Chris Rock is a talent standup and comedic actor who has never really achieved his full potential on the silver screen, only coming into his own in supporting roles or voicing Marty in the ‘Madagascar’ movies. As Aaron, he is the downtrodden son of the family who was still living at home when his father died and has had to organise everything and it is a role he tries really hard with. Playing his brother Ryan, Martin Lawrence proves again that he is a totally one-dimensional actor. Only ever able to play himself, Lawrence is the bigheaded star of the family and this does not feel much of a departure for the actor. It is in the smaller roles where the film tries to shine and in Regina Hall, James Marsden, Zoe Saldana, Tracy Morgan, Columbus Short and Luke Wilson the film has a chance of producing something good but it just does not quite get there. Even when you throw in Peter Dinklage as Frank, the man with the shocking family secret and a very funny turn from Danny Glover as Uncle Russell, cannot save this missing more than it hits.
When it comes to making a farce, the American remake of ‘Death at a Funeral’ shows that farce should be left to the British. While the cast do there best with the role, the over reliance on basic toilet and drug humour for the majority of its laughs, this is a film that did not need to be remade.
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Commentary with Director Neil LaBute and Chris Rock
Death For Real
Death at a Funeral: Last Rites, Dark Secrets
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