Wednesday, 29 September 2010



Yet again with the remakes. There are many reasons why a film can have two, or more, runs at the box-office. Advances in technology will allow you to give the story the treatment it deserved first time. More relaxed censorship might permit a greater degree of sex and violence whereas the older version was hampered by not being allowed to show enough of the good stuff. You might be able to use that old story to make political points about a current topical debate. Or, hell, it might be for no other reason than it's guaranteed to make a pile of money. It's always a case of what you're bringing to the table this time.

It might be a big name star in a part he/she could kick some serious backside in, such as Samuel L Jackson in the remake of Shaft. It might be whizzy CGI effects or it might be a deeper exploration of a beloved character. It might just be noise and swearing and frenetic overediting (the terrible remake of The Taking Of Pelham 123). But when you've taken a film and have done absolutely nothing to change it - scenes and lines play exactly the same - you have to wonder what the point of the exercise was. Specifically, what have the remakers of Death At A Funeral brought to the table? And the answer appears to be: black people.

Frank Oz did the original Death At A Funeral all the way back in 2007 and it was fine - the increasingly farcical events surrounding a family funeral in leafy, well-to-do suburbia. Now what is essentially the same script has been relocated to the USA by Neil LaBute (following his remake of The Wicker Man!) but - with an almost entirely black cast. Now obviously there's nothing intrinsically wrong with that at all. But because 99% of it is exactly the same - word for word in many cases, as a check at the quotes on the original's IMDb page will confirm - it is, literally, the same film.

It's got perhaps bigger names and box-office draws like Danny Glover, Chris Rock and Martin Lawrence (against that, it's got Tracy Morgan in it, who was rubbish in Cop Out) but that's really all. And it doesn't have Daisy Donovan either, which is a shame and probably the only reason why the original sneaks past this new version. Well, that and the sense of utter pointlessness. It's still funny, but it's funny in exactly, and precisely, the same way the first one was.


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