Movie Review: Death at a Funeral (2010)- An Awfully Unfunny Remake That Replicates Characters and Scenarios Instead of Understanding Them

Remakes are the sign that Hollywood has turned away from seeking out actual original material by falling back on already established good writing and messing it up. There is not one remake in the existence of cinema that is better than its original and the latest sloppy, rigid, and uninventive remake to hit Hollywood is Chris Rock’s take at the British comedy Death at a Funeral. Mind you the original was only released a few years ago, which they would say is not yet cold if it were dead, but when Hollywood knows something is a cult success with snappy dialogue, original comedic delivery, and distasteful subject matter that works they know they can churn it out for a whole different demographic: the “urban market.” By casting well known black actors to fit developed characters rather than allowing the actors to make the characters their own is the first blatant mistake in this awful comedy that has awkward timing, unbelievable delivery, and drawn out moments that ruin the jokes entirely. The original Death at a Funeral seemed to be able to balance dry delivery with politically incorrect humor and maintaining a subdued comedic atmosphere that relied on reaction, great character arcs, and minor breaks with gross out humor. All of that is ruined in this unsubtle, awkwardly acted, and unfunny remake that will make anyone familiar with the original film try to stop their head from violently shaking on the verge of having an aneurysm.

Alright so the plot to Death at a Funeral isn’t so simple because it really has to do with characters getting involved with each other during a funeral service where everything seems to go wrong. The protagonist in the remake is Aaron, played by a lackluster Chris Rock attempting to throw out one liner after another instead of trying to embody a realistic son in grief, and trying to keep order on the day of his father’s funeral. He is an aspiring writer and lives in his younger brother’s shadow, played by Martin Lawrence who is really just playing himself, who has many books published though it is alluded to that its mostly for the lower demographic of readers. In the original these two characters are the essential pivotal roles, where we feel their jealousy, arrogance, and inevitable change and were captured delicately by Matthew Macfayden and Rupert Graves. The unfortunate fact is that neither Chris Rock nor Martin Lawrence can be comedic while also remaining vulnerable actors embodying their characters. That goes the same with the entire remake and every character in it, everyone seems to just being exaggerated versions of the original’s established characters. Not only is this shameful in its own right but the comedy suffers a great deal, especially with the parts that deal with being held in the dark. Peter Dinklage, the only actor who is in the original and the remake, is the best example as to why this version doesn’t work and it’s because of his given direction by Neil LaBute who drops the ball on subtle delivery and presentation. Death at a Funeral the remake just doesn’t live up to the challenging and funny script of the original that Frank Oz directed with graceful integrity.

There is no getting around the fact that this film was cast with the sole intention of filling the roles with as many known actors and comedians as they could find. That is a huge problem not only for the standard that is being applied in Hollywood but also for just common sense in successful film delivery. The best idea is to have actors who can make the characters their own rather than predetermining the roles based on already established performances will not end up being a success. It is clearly messy especially when noticing Regina Hall’s overly laughable performances as well as Tracy Morgan’s tiresome nonsensical dialect that just annoys you from start to finish. And the unfortunate reality is that no one even comes close to replicating the brilliant and unusually gripping performances from the original. In a comedy it really does help for the protagonist to feel as though they are a typical average Joe with all of the events around them happening out of their control, and the remake of Death at a Funeral falls drastically short where not a single person seems as though they are someone from reality. All we have are big name actors on the screen trying to replicate and exaggerate already established performances that are better to watch in the original. Seeing Alan Tudyk deliver his hallucinogenic disorientation is something bordering on comedic brilliance and while James Marsden might have a good personality and decent singing voice it clearly doesn’t match up, which can be said for pretty much everything within the film.

Death at a Funeral is dependent upon the already planned out outline of the original film without taking any consideration of appropriate joke delivery, timing, or well developed character. Many of the jokes lose their shocking appeal from the original solely because they take the quick route to establishing their characters personalities, such as Danny Glover as Uncle Russell who is already mentioned as grumpy instead of taking us off guard in the original. Adding in a couple of creative freedoms to the story actually worked against it, such as Luke Wilson’s character looked highly upon by Zoe Saldana’s father while the drama in the original between mother and father’s approval was something understandable. Here it becomes a lame and often times cliché side story that doesn’t have as much character or emotion as the other film does. Not everyone does a piss poor job, considering that Zoe Saldana doesn’t trip over her characters replication and James Marsden has enough personality to be likeable. Most people who have never seen the original will find this shameless remake inventive and funny when really it is dry, awkward, and poorly delivered in a drastically pedestrian way.

Hollywood will never learn from these horrific remakes because they generally earn their initial investment back if not inevitably being profitable during the DVD sale and rental period. It’s easier to grab a piece of developed material instead of taking a shot at new talent, which is in drastic short supply in this Writer’s Guild system. What is lacking here is the basic thought process that most films have to consider and that is how well an actor can embody their character, but when you have a list of well known celebrities that can just mimic other performances instead of taking the time to establish their own interpretation then something is lost in the long run. This comedy is truly unfunny and ignores the original’s dedication to palpably resonant characters that seemed real amidst a havoc of chaotic and abnormal events at what is usually deemed as a sacred ritual. Perhaps a dedication to a previous source might be too strict on just having a plain entertaining experience, but that would imply that entertainment means being presented material rather than being engaged in the material.

Grade: D

3 Responses to “Movie Review: Death at a Funeral (2010)- An Awfully Unfunny Remake That Replicates Characters and Scenarios Instead of Understanding Them”
  1. Carlos says:

    I know you will be waiting anxiously for the new Karate Kid this summer huh.

  2. Chris says:

    Why would they ruin one of the best films ever, i’m starting to hate Americans…..

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