Death at a Funeral (Review)

DEATH AT A FUNERAL
(4/16/10; Comedy)
Chris Rock, Martin Lawrence, Tracy Morgan, Danny Glover, James Marsden, Luke Wilson, Zoe Saldana, Regina Hall, Columbus Short, Peter Dinklage / SCR: Dean Craig
DIR: Neil LaBute
MPAA: R for language, drug content and some sexual humor.
1 hour 30 mins
BOX: $34,691,129

Riddle me this: What’s the justification for remaking a perfectly funny and moderately successful British comedy less than three years out of the gate? Despite a great cast of African-American heavyweights (the story now unfolds in Los Angeles), barely anything about the story has changed.

It’s still about a family assembling to bury their father and all the crazy situations and revelations that unfold on the day of the service. Dinklage even plays the same character (to say more about him ruins one of the better twists).

But what has changed is the tone: the 2007 version generated comedic tension from outrageous moments in such a repressed and respectful environment. When someone starts talking to plants at a funeral because he’s accidentally taken a hallucinogenic drug or emerges onto a roof naked, it’s funny.

But it’s less funny when every scene is played for broad humor with wacky music telling us when we should laugh. And of course, if a joke was distasteful the first time, it’s cranked up to Jackass-levels on the gross-o-meter. What a supreme waste of talent. (Screen Gems)

— DENNIS WILLIS

Author: Dennis Willis

Dennis Willis is an award-winning producer, TV host, producer, director, editor (he preferred Avid until a torrid affair with Adobe Premiere, and the rest is history), author and film critic (print and radio). Dennis produced and hosted the TV programs Reel Life, FilmTrip, Soundwaves (1983-2008) and produces the annual Soundwaves Xmas program. He is currently the film critic on KGO Radio in San Francisco, and a member of both the San Francisco Film Critics Circle and the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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