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Gavin Grades The Movies

Death at a Funeral

How does one remake one of the funniest movies of all time?  Stop.  Let me start again.  WHY would you ever remake one of the funniest movies of all time?  Especially when it only came out three years ago and it was in English?!  The original Death at a Funeral was made by Director and former voice of "Miss Piggy" and "Yoda," Frank Oz (What About Bob, The Score) and starred an entire British cast.  Critics liked it but I loved it.  I thought the script, written by Dean Craig, was one of the funniest movies I've ever seen.  My brother Benjamin made me watch it and I laughed so hard that I had tears falling from my eyes.  Thinking that it was a one-time-fluke, I watched it again and again and still laughed my ass off.  So to go back to my original question: How does one remake one of the funniest movies of all time?  The answer: exactly like this.  Director Neil LaBute (Wicker Man, Lakeview Terrace) teamed up with writer, Craig, and changed virtually not a damn thing.  Next they went out and assembled one of the best black comedy casts they could.  Chris Rock, a chubby Martin Lawerence, Danny Glover (Saw, Lethal Weapon), Tracy Morgan (30 Rock, Cop Out), Zoe Saldana (Avatar, Star Trek), and many others take the script and make it their own as much as they could.  They also have Luke Wilson (Old School, AT&T commercials) and James Marsden (Enchanted, X-Men) join them as the token white guys in the cast.  Apparently the backstory for this remake is that Rock saw the original and loved it so much that he wanted to bring it to a wider audience.  So he produced the film and really championed to get it made.  It shows because you can tell that he's the one cast member trying the hardest to go against type and actually act in it.  Everyone else does pretty much what we've seen them do their entire careers.  However, the good news is that the story stays the same...they even use the same midget from the original (Peter Dinklage).  It's almost like painting a Picasso by the numbers; as long as you follow the directions, you'll successfully re-create a masterpiece.  The story is gold and shouldn't be messed and I'm really glad they didn't.  The only originality they added was one bit that ended up being the second biggest laugh in the theater.  (The biggest laugh goes to a scene that is so shocking and so funny that the theater was laughing so long, so loudly that you miss the dialogue for about 45 seconds.  Don't worry, it's worth it.  I still laughed as hard as I could even though I knew it was coming.)  If I was writing a review for the original Death at a Funeral, I would give it an A+.  The fact that it was an upscale British family that was so posh and had so much go horribly wrong at the funeral added to the craziness of the story...that and it was the first one.  This version works, but doesn't work as well because I don't get the impression that any of the characters are posh and seem like craziness happens often; so why should they be shocked?  But the translation from snooty British to loud Black works.  I wouldn't say that it's a perfect fit but if this means that more people get to enjoy this story, then I agree with Chris Rock and I'm glad this was redone. Death at a Funeral (Rated R) Gavin Grade: B+ Click here if you want to score passes to an advance screening of Iron Man 2!!!

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04/15/2010 12:36PM
Death at a Funeral
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