I saw the original ‘Death at a Funeral‘ when it came out three years ago, and not once during the entire 90 minutes I spent wincing through this British farce/comedy of manners did I think that it would transpose well to an American audience. Nor, in my innocence, did I see these English stereotypes converted into a collection of the most famous black American actors and comedians around.
Sadly for cinemagoers everywhere, Chris Rock and his consortium of producers and comedians did see potential in this film and duly remade it. The consequences of their actions is currently sliding down the US box office in much the same way as the poo slid down the wall in one of the many ridiculous scenes of stupidity that fill this story from start to finish.
The plot is a simple concept tied to a single location: the family home of Aaron (Chris Rock), on the day of his father’s funeral. In this most poignant of places, we are treated to a breakdown of family tensions incorporating an inter-racial marriage, a sibling rivalry, an incontinent uncle and more than a few skeletons emerging from the closet.
Introducing the small element of racial tension seems to be the film’s only nod at the social commentary ploughed artlessly into the original, and this remarkably manages to make this flimsly material even more lacklustre.
Worse still, the ability of many of the actors (Chris Rock, Tracy Morgan and Martin Lawrence) to build up the tempo and energy levels with their inimitable exuberance’s was muzzled by failed attempts to build serious character identities. The only scene in which the audience noticeably reacted to their efforts to extracts some belly laughs came in the depressingly derivative poo jokes, and it some of Uncle Russell’s (Danny Glover) more insulting outbursts.
A ridiculous plotline involving some misplaced hallucinogenic drugs caps the collection of crap that comprises this waste of time. Only the aforementioned ‘skeleton’ in the family closet, which is taken almost verbatim from the original and even retains one of the main cast members, carries some comic weight. The rest is completely disposable.
To be perfectly honest though, if you don’t expect anything special from it you may not hate it as much as I did. The poor conversion of the social comedy is likely to grate on most, as it just doesn’t work, but the rest will probably be just as funny (of not as fresh) as just about every other farce made in the last few years.
Death at a Funeral opens in U.K. cinema’s tomorrow.
This article was first posted on June 3, 2010