A bastardized American remake of a brilliant three-year-old British comedy.
- Who's going to like it: fans of a low-brow, over-the-top, “dumbed-down” version of British comedy.
Award winning playwright Neil LaBute has given us another example of
why he has no business working in Hollywood (the other reasons being
his movies The Wicker Man and Lakeview Terrace). It’s understandable
why an American director would want to remake a contemporary foreign
language film, but one that was in English to begin with? And even
then, what kind of director would have the audacity to film it
picture-for-picture? The entire movie could have been shot in front of
a green screen and later filled in with shots from the original – it’s
LaBute’s version of Death At A Funeral is much
like a photocopied paper – it is never going to look as good as the
original. Because Frank Oz’s (What About Bob?) 2007 version of Death At
A Funeral is far superior to LaBute’s photocopy, I am going to take
advantage of this opportunity to tell you why you should rent or buy
the original version rather than pay to see the new hack one. The
following is taken from my 2007 Death At A Funeral review:
the past few years, British comedies such as LOVE ACTUALLY, THE OFFICE,
SHAUN OF THE DEAD, EXTRAS, HOT FUZZ, and now, DEATH AT A FUNERAL have
been invading U.S. theaters and finding success with their new audience
(probably because we Americans only mass-produce sequels nowadays).
AT A FUNERAL follows Daniel (Matthew Macfadyen, Mr. Darcy in 2005′s
PRIDE AND PREJUDICE) on the day of his father’s funeral. Instead of
being a day of mourning and remembrance, it turns into a sidesplitting
disaster of wit and slapstick when the dysfunctional family and friends
“Brace yourself for unintentional intoxication, a lot of man-butt and even a gay midget.
proven by last year’s Academy Award-winning comedy, LITTLE MISS
SUNSHINE, not all independent movies are pretentious, artsy and lame.
DEATH AT A FUNERAL is this year’s LITTLE MISS, where all family
skeletons literally come out of the closet.
“Though filled with crowd-rising comedic elements, there are several natural, touching moments.
AT A FUNERAL takes away the black-veiled, sad edge of one’s passing to
show how funerals don’t really have to be depressing and bitter.”
away the heart and the majority of the laughs, and that’s what you get
from LaBute’s version. It feels like most of the cast hadn’t a clue as
to what the film was trying to say, which blame can be placed entirely
on an unfocused director without a big picture in sight.
things in Death At A Funeral actually work. Chris Rock (SNL) and Martin
Lawrence (Bad Boys) can’t act, Luke Wilson (Old School) is dry and
boring and Tracy Morgan (30 Rock) continually rambles on and isn’t
The reason LaBute’s Death At A Funeral earns one star
(instead of zero) is because of Zoe Saldana (Star Trek) and James
Marsden (X-Men). Playing a couple in the movie, Saldana brings in some
honest emotion and heart and Marsden brings in a whole lot of laughs.
As you would expect after seeing him in Sex Drive, Marsden’s comedic
performance steals the show.
Do not for any reason give-in to
any inkling you may have to see this movie. The 2007 version deserves
to be seen first. Then, if you are a glutton for punishment, see
LaBute’s – but only at a dollar theater. Marsden’s performance is the
only thing that will make it worth it.
Hopefully, Hollywood will
learn two things from this movie: James Marsden deserves to be in
comedic roles and Neil LaBute shouldn’t be making movies.
Photo credit: Screen Gems
(1 out of 5)