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Death at a Funeral
Genre Comedy
Year: 2010
 
Review:

The first thing you'll be thinking is... why, oh why, oh why did they remake a film only 3 years after the original Death at a Funeral? Well, the first guess would be money. If the cow's not dry, there's milking to be done and Hollywood hasn't got any time for charity, although you'd be forgiven for thinking that considering some of the film productions that actually make it past the conceptual phase. It's just easier to get an audience, rake up a bit of press and run with a title and plot that everyone's already enjoyed once. They did it with The Italian Job, creating a movie that involved a heist and Mini-Coopers. Thankfully, the new Death at a Funeral had the decency to elect a solid cast and familiarise itself with the source material, Frank Oz's hilariously dark comedy, Death at a Funeral (2007).

Death at a Funeral (2010) isn't trying to hide the fact that it's a carbon copy of the original, it's embracing the characters to the point of reprising Peter Dinklage's pivotal performance as the little guy. This time Chris Rock's in charge of proceedings at his father's funeral and it's set in the United States instead of the English countryside. The opening credits cleverly start with a heart monitor flatline that becomes a series of roads and networks for the hearse to bring us to the opening scene.

The new Death at a Funeral actually has loads of potential arming itself with a winning ensemble including: Chris Rock, Keith David, Danny Glover, Loretta Devine, Tracy Morgan, James Marsden, Zoe Saldana, Luke Wilson, Martin Lawrence and Peter Dinklage. That's quite a comedy arsenal if you ever considered doing a comedy remake. The cast share the film quite well with Rock guiding the narrative and the supporting posse adding weight for the laughs in a scene-for-scene translation of the original by Neil LaBute.

The chemistry is there with James Marsden going all the way, but one gets the impression of a nervous hesitation... and possibly an over-commitment to the original. Death at a Funeral (2007) was distinctly British with a little American comedy thrown in and the remake is an anti-thesis when it comes to casting, location and flavour. The original was regarded as something of an art house film playing to a niche audience in the line of other dark comedies like Eulogy. The remake gives the film wider scope, mainly due to the big name cast, allowing the comedy to be more accessible to a commercial market.

The result is actually pretty decent as a winning premise, ensemble and comedy come together with a fresh spin on the original. LaBute keeps no. 2 faithful, yet presents it for a wider American audience. The big problem is that the ship has sailed and the broken champagne bottle is still on ice. It's difficult to forget such memorable comedic twists and such a hilarious farce as Frank Oz's Death at a Funeral (2007). It's so fresh in our minds that you could almost do a parallel scene-by-scene comparison without having to watch the original again.

The idea was great, the comedy is passable a second time around, but the remake just seems completely pointless three years down the line. As a stand-alone comedy it'd be a satisfactory production, but compared with the original - it falls short. They should have waited until its 10 year anniversary before attempting a remake, because this just seems irreverent, even more than having a cadaver bowled out of a coffin. If you haven't seen the original, you'll leave the cinema satisfied after a good chuckle. If you have - the second time round the mulberry bush will echo with a sense of deja vu with hollow laughter from the uninitiated.

The bottom line: Secondhand.

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