DEATH AT A FUNERAL movie review

by Rick Grant
Remaking films is a way of recycling tried-and-true scripts that give the filmmaker an inkling of its boxoffice success. Lately, the time between the original film and a remake has shrunk from the usual ten years to three years in this case. This same script was made into a movie in 2007 with an all-British cast that was directed by Frank Oz, of Muppet fame. This 2010 version is directed by Neil LaBute, who stuck to the script, word for word, using mostly African-American comedians. And it is hilarious. Thankfully, it’s not a Tyler Perry-esque remake, creating stereotypes of the characters. .
Interestingly, Peter Dinklage (a little person) reprises his role in the remake. He plays a pivotal role as an unwelcome visitor to the funeral who sets off a guffaw-producing chain of events that embarrass the family.
The screenplay is based on its farcical elements and needs precise timing by the actors. Since most of the cast are experienced comedians, that wasn’t a problem. The funeral starts off with relatives and friends gathering at the home of the deceased, as per his will, an old black man who harbored a bombshell secret.
Chris Rock plays Aaron, the oldest sibling of the family who is designated to give the eulogy. His slightly younger brother, Ryan (Martin Lawrence) is a successful novelist, much to the chagrin of his brother Aaron, who is struggling to finish his novel. Then Ryan backs out of the deal to co-pay for the funeral.
Things begin to go wrong right away when the funeral home delivers the wrong body. Then a cascade of faux pas happen until the funeral turns into a debacle of hilarity, as the farcical elements kick into the mix and the theater laugh level remains high.
Tracy Morgan, who is remarkably restrained in this film, plays Norman who has to deal with Uncle Russell, who is confined to a wheelchair. The bathroom scene is played just like the original, as Norman has to get Uncle Russell on the potty…in a hurry.
One thing leads to another, and the funeral has turned into a farce with an all-star cast and a great script, this remake is a laugh-a-thon of the highest order. Each actor plays their role with the upmost respect for the script and LaBute’s direction. As Hitchcock said, there are three things that make a great movie–the script, the script, and the script. This movie has all three in spades.