Movies: Death at a Funeral **
(15A, general release)
Published 04/06/2010 | 05:00
Ever since the stadium-filling glory days of Monty Python, Americans have been slightly in awe of 'British humour'. Which is possibly why Neil LaBute and Sidney Kimmel decided to remake a 2007 English comic drama that wasn't very good in the first place.
In that film, Matthew Macfadyen and Rupert Graves played two brothers who got a nasty shock when they gathered to mourn their late father, but in this Death at a Funeral an impressive list of Hollywood big guns is brought to bear on the family farce.
Chris Rock is Aaron Barnes, a dutiful son who tries to keep his cool on the day of his father's funeral. But his sang-froid is challenged by a series of disasters that begin with the arrival of his brother, Ryan (Martin Lawrence). While Aaron is a thus far unpublished writer, Ryan's trashy airport novels have made him famous.
But Ryan is the least of Aaron's problems, because as friends and relatives descend on Aaron's house for the funeral, a small man emerges to drop a very large bombshell.
A midget called Frank (Peter Dinklage) shows Aaron and Ryan incontrovertible evidence that he was their father's gay lover, and demands $30,000 for his silence. And while they're wondering what to do about this, chaos is erupting all over the house.
There's nothing particularly transgressive or interesting about either version of Death at a Funeral. Both films lack genuine wit, and this one seems the bigger sin because it squanders the considerable comic talents of Chris Rock and Tracy Morgan, and descends to the bargain basement in search of feeble laughs.