Read the interview with Death at a Funeral’s Tracy Morgan and Chris Rock here.
Bottom Line: This lazy, uncreative remake is full of cringe-worthy acting and exaggerated humor.
It is no shocker that the remake of Death at a Funeral is poorly acted, uninspired and inferior to the 2007 original. What is surprising, though, is the extent of the disparity in quality. While the British original is equal parts farce and dark comedy, Neil LaBute’s remake is almost exclusively made up of over-the-top slapstick humor.
In the movie, Aaron (Chris Rock) must cope with the loss of his father while putting up with a whole host of family issues. He must contend with his jealousy towards his famous brother Ryan (Martin Lawrence), his cousin’s drugged boyfriend (James Marsden) and his father’s friend with a secret (Peter Dinklage, who plays the same part in the original movie).
At first glance, it seems as if the star power would be strong enough to carry the film. But since Tracy Morgan’s acting is miserable and the rest of the cast is mediocre, that potential saving grace is out the window within the first ten minutes of the movie. In case it is not already obvious, Morgan proves over and over that he cannot turn in any kind of performance different from his usual shtick on 30 Rock: talentless for the most part, but with a handful of winning jokes about strippers.
The new movie takes the well-executed jokes of the original and makes them stale. Chris Rock says that the new version changes things up a bit and plays with new jokes, but that statement is inconsistent with the final result on the screen. Even the jokes that do succeed merely parrot the original’s charm, in many cases with almost identical wording.
Another issue with the movie is the transparency of its rushed message and the speediness of its resolutions. Audience members are supposed to realize how important it is to accept family members. Of course, as evidenced by the film’s title, the secondary theme is that it is okay to laugh in times of great sorrow. Indeed, that is sometimes how people need to heal.
By the end of the movie, however, glaring flaws in the acting and writing overshadow all attempts at lovey-dovey, canned messages. The movie arguably lost any chance at credibility the second Tracy Morgan signed on.
Overall, Death at a Funeral serves as a lesson for Hollywood in remaking English-speaking films so soon after the first release. The two works are too similar, and the original sticks out as the better, wittier film.