Starring: Chris Rock, Martin Lawrence, Zoe Saldana, James Marsden, Tracey Morgan, Luke Wilson, Danny Glover, Peter Dinklage
Director: Neil LaBute
Writer: Dean Craig
Cinematography: Rogier Stoffers
Original Score: Christophe Beck
Running Time: 92 Mins.
What possessed anyone to remake (shot for shot no less) the flop British comedy from only 2 years ago is anyone’s guess, but most bizarrely of all is that the director is Neil LaBute, a man best known for his drama’s, but wait there is more, it now stars Chris Rock, Martin Lawrence and Tracey Morgan who between them have enough awful comedies to sink a ship. All of which begs the question, why? Why did they remake it? Why has it attracted a reputable director? Why does it have (some) good actors, a returning Peter Dinklage for one! And why on earth did I choose to see it against all my horrible expectations…
Alas it was not the eye-wateringly bad experience I went in expecting, amassing a laugh quota enough to warrant a post-pub viewing and showing that when required too Chris Rock can hold back and tone it down for more comedic effect, even if it also became abundantly apparent that Martin Lawrence can’t. Direction, cinematography, music, script, there is little here that stands out other than the large ensemble of largely African American actors, thankfully it refrains from slipping into what I’d like to tout as the kind of Cosby-esque humour that Tyler Perry’s output has become ridiculously successful from in America, hence why it is more likely to play better over here than Perry’s offerings.
Death at a Funeral is a farce through and through, never played for anything other than laughs, which is no bad thing as more often they hit than miss even if they are likely to play better first time round and offer little in the way of repeat humour, in a cast this vast and well-known some players were always going to stand out over others and while Luke Wilson, Saldana and most of the other female characters are little more than window dressing or comedy foils there are a few notably funny turns, Marsden and Tracey Morgan proving the highlights over-acting to the desired levels and perking up any scenes they are in.
The premise itself is one that is humourous in thought and concept alone so wringing some laughs was pretty much a no-brainer. lazy or not the thought of the wrong body beign brought to a funeral is funny in the darkest and most distasteful way and as with the 2007 version of the film Dinklage appears with a rather tasteless secret with some unsavoury demands of the deceased son, all of which results in some of the funniest scenes and lets some great comedy actors bounce of each other in a bickering way that is once again as funny as you would expect.
On the flip side though there are moments when you can half expect a tumble weed to blow past, given Lawrences’s appearance though what did you expect, while there are some real clangers of jokes concerning fertility, grandchildren alongside deeply unconvincing relationships between Wilson and Saldana, though to be honest considering how poor i was expecting the film to be these were minor quibbles.
Offering little more than an all out farce Death at a Funeral is much funnier than it ought to be (which isn’t really saying much), switch off when Martin Lawrence is on-screen and the humourous antics of Morgan, Marsden and Dinklage will carry you through a film that purports to be no more than it is.