Death at a Funeral (2010)
And playing the role of Alan Tudyk …

Theatrical Release Date: 04/16/2010
Director: Neil LaBute
Cast: Chris Rock, Regina Hall, Martin Lawrence, Zoe Saldana, James Marsden, Tracy Morgan, Columbus Short, Luke Wilson, Peter Dinklage, Loretta Devine, Danny Glover, Keith David

Seeing an original film these days seems like an exercise in futility. Whether it’s a sequel, reboot, remake or reimagining, an adaptation from a novel, comic book, television show or foreign language film, getting new material on the silver screen rarely happens outside of the independent movie scene.

The latest example is “Death at a Funeral” , which is a remake of “Death at a Funeral (2007)“. Yes, this remake is only three years old and not even a foreign language adaptation (unless you find the Brits hard to understand). For Pete’s sake, at least wait 15 to 20 years to remake something and justify it by saying you’re introducing the material to a new generation (i.e. all the 80s films getting remade).

Well, since Hollywood doesn’t seem to care what their material is based on, I figured I’d just adjust my review of the original film (denoted by the bluish text). Enjoy …

Often, promotional materials like trailers and posters make note of a director’s previous work in case audiences aren’t familiar with their name.

In the case of Neil LaBute’s “Death at a Funeral”, they’ve gone another way and not even mentioned his name … which is apropos considering the film bears no directorial imprint. Seeing as many of the scenes were lifted straight from the original, a first year film student could have cobbled this together.

And while some scenes were extended or slightly adjusted thanks to LaBute’s input, even the WGA didn’t feel it was enough to add his name to the screenwriting credit and only original scribe Dean Craig gets his name in the byline.

That’s a shame really because I know LaBute’s better directorial efforts like “In the Company of Men”, “Nurse Betty” and “The Shape of Things” – all of which were examining the human condition in interesting ways. But with flicks like the terrificly horrible remake of “The Wicker Man” (who doesn’t love Nic Cage screaming about bees) and now this, I’m really missing the acerbic tone and uncomfortably honest characters he had brought to screen previously.

With “Death at a Funeral”, LaBute has modified a classically British comedy about outrageous and morbidly funny events happening during a funeral ceremony into a typical American comedy about the same thing.

The characters are zany and brought to life very well for the most part, utilizing a great comedic cast that includes James Marsden, Peter Dinklage and Tracy Morgan. Even this makes me laugh, because although I truly enjoy Dinklage’s work in everything I’ve seen, what was the purpose of recasting every role but his? Hell, if they really wanted to keep him because of the interracial angle of his relationship with a member of the family, why not get Verne Troyer or Warwick Davis and just have a completely new cast?

Aside from that, the cast was all well chosen for their roles (even Luke Wilson who can play unlikable characters just fine in my book) and the motley crew that gathers to pay their respects all have their own peccadilloes and oddities that elevate this from a simply droll, British comedy to something a tad more.

That’s not to say this is the funniest comedy I’ve seen lately. I saw the jokes coming fourteen miles away (even farther away this time since I’d seen the original) and was more astounded by the audience I was with, snickering and gasping at completely predictable events, than at anything the filmmakers came up with (this element definitely held true).

Still, there’s a lot of heart in the film and it’s a fairly well done ensemble comedy. If you like your humor adapted from across the pond and are okay with seeing James Marsden bare his backside, then you’ll enjoy this film.

I’m giving “Death at a Funeral” a 3 out of 5, maybe seeing an original comedy would have improved my mood though if you liked the first film, you’ll probably like this one too as it’s essentially the exact same thing … only with a more Americanized in your face delivery for the jokes rather than the drier English wit system. The performances are good and this is more of a rent than a must-see, which is one way of saying that I wouldn’t die if I had missed this one … get it? Because it’s about a funeral … oh, stop rolling your eyes …