It’s a funny thing, the remake of “Death at a Funeral.” The British original in 2007 turned the title, which implied the melancholy proceedings of a sacred ritual, into something totally unforeseen – a laugh riot.
There are those of us who think two decades is too soon for a remake, but Neil LaBute turns around the hilarious original for a Hollywood treatment in under three years. Essentially, there’s no reason for this remake to exist other than to make the script more digestible to a mainstream audience. Nothing new is brought to the table, no retooling or adding is done. It’s practically a shot-by-shot remake, claiming that swapping accents is enough to warrant the millions of dollars to produce the movie.
It’s a strange experience to watch these often funny stars, including Chris Rock, Martin Lawrence, and Tracy Morgan, running around doing a half-hearted version of the original movie. In fact, it’s almost like an out-of-body experience as we watch them utter virtually the same lines and run through the same motions as the British actors did – but never come close to matching their comedic brilliance. Surprisingly, the funniest member of the ensemble is James Marsden, who truly embraces the farcical nature of his character and plays it up to hilarity. However, we only get to see glances of the zonked Marsden, never prolonged scenes.
I find there no reason to watch this movie when a clearly superior alternative exists. Sure, this version has a few laughs and is hardly unfunny, but why choose chuckles over the howls that you can have watching the original? If you had the choice between a rotting apple that looked nice and a fresh apple with a little bit of dust on top, which would you eat? This “Death at a Funeral” looks nice on a poster, but at its core, the movie is pretty rotten. There’s no reason NOT to go off the beaten path to watch the British version. C /