Frank Oz’ Death at a Funeral (a movie I only recall because of Naked Wash) is being remade by Neil Labute, a mere 2 years after its release. As unneccessary as most American remakes are, this one seems even worse. I get that there’s a language barrier that lots of US moviegoers just aren’t willing to hop over; subtitles are surely repellant to folks who head to the movies specifically because reading doesn’t entertain them. I get that there are occasionally cultural differences portrayed in films that can be confusing or even scary to people who are uncurious about the rest of the world or uninterested in seeing characters who aren’t exactly like themselves.
But for fuck’s sake, this is a remake of a movie that was filmed in English just two years ago. There are no subtitles to hold people back. I guess you could argue on the “cultural differences” front that the original was a bit British, but the best thing about British farces is the contrast between old-timey propriety and ludicrously inappropriate behavior. How can that dynamic possibly be improved by the addition of Martin Lawrence cringing “Ohhhhh Daddy!”?
Aboslutely the only interesting thing I can imagine coming out of attempting to remake this British black comedy as an African American slapstick farce is the possibility of exploring the Black community’s attitudes toward homosexuality and race mixing. And I’m not talking about some bullshit feel-good thing where everyone just suddenly decides hey it’s not such a big deal if Dad was gay and had a white lover. With the amount of homophobia pervading Black pop culture, trying to just breeze through the gay dad angle without a really violent confrontation would take this film beyond “unrealistic” to a realm more like “a dimension of existence so utterly foreign that you kinda can’t conceive of it anymore”; it’ll be like the moviegoing equivalent of what happens to Dave Bowman at the end of 2001.
Hit the jump to watch both trailers and compare for yourself.
The original film by Frank “Bowfinger” Oz:
And the remake by Neil “The Wicker Man” Labute: