DEATH AT A FUNERAL
These kinds of screwball comedies should be no brainers to make funny. You have Chris Rock, Martin Lawrence, Peter Dinklage, and Tracy Morgan all in one house. It might have been a more successful approach to turn this into a reality TV show. You really feel like these guys only say their lines because they have to.
It’s a waste of funny talent. The jokes don’t exist. They were never on the page. If they were funny in the original, which I doubt they were, they don’t translate here. I was pretty sure Neil LaBute was in on the joke during The Wicker Man. It turns out he is tone deaf. He likes that line between drama and comedy, straight down the middle, with neither foot too far on either side. If it’s meant to be funny it’s “safe funny”. A guy who is tripping on acid wrapping his head with toilet paper, does, on the surface, seem funny. But that isn’t how humor works. It’s not a math problem. It’s not 2 plus 2 equals 4.
Movies like this actually piss me off more than others because I buy a ticket to laugh. I like to feel the film get its groove so I can go for the ride. But from the opening scene I wasn’t on board. It was the pacing, how Neil chose to go fast instead of slow. This film doesn’t build. It drops you in and you amble around looking for laughs. You never feel like the jokes will get funnier, or anticipate things will start detouring wildly out of control.
I’d love to know what the hell James Marsden was doing in this. It surprised me that he had one of the bigger roles as the white guy who trips on acid and makes an ass of himself in front of his fiancee’s family. This isn’t the guy you want for that role. He’s like the guy at the party who thinks he’s doing an awesome impression of Al Pacino but in reality it fucking sucks. He’s cast for his looks and sex appeal, not for his comedic timing. I didn’t realize they were going after the female demographic so aggressively. Once again, this isn’t a math problem. Having James Marsden hanging naked from a roof isn’t as funny as it might sound.
I’m pretty sure Tyler Perry could have done more with this than Neil LaBute. That’s the real tragedy. And I’ve seen Perry movies. I’ve even gone to the theater to watch them. LaBute and Perry are both extremely tone deaf. They read from the same retarded “urban comedy” playbook. If you’re going to make a comedy, you better go balls to the wall. And if the British counterpart isn’t funny then heed the philosophy of Charles Bukowski before you remake it: don’t try.