Death at a Funeral in Black and White

Published: 2019-08-28 08:00:00
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Written by Dean Craig the story of 2007 movie Death at a Funeral was so brilliant that the movie was remade in the USA only three years afterwards which was unprecedented for an English-language film. The 2007 British movie Death at a Funeral directed by Frank Oz is a typically English old-school black comedy with plain faces and reserved sophisticated humor. Featuring almost no movie celebrities it allows the audience to submerge into the world of conservative high-class England with its primness and fake emotions. The movie will certainly be savored by a high-brow audience with appreciation of English humor. Three years after the release of the movie Neil LaBute made a brave remake having changed the cast to primarily black comedians, thus widening the prospective audience. The American version obviously appealed to less sophisticated viewers and LaButes interpretation of some of the main characters differed as well.

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The most drastic change can be observed in the character of the younger brother, a successful published writer. Robert, played by Rupert Graves, is a respectable English man admired for his talent and the ability to say the right thing at the right time. He possesses refined manners and exquisite taste with his black suit and tie. He wears his hair shoulder-length to emphasize his belonging to the world of art. Casting Martin Lawrence as Ryan, the same character in the 2010 version, adds new aspects to the personality of the writer. Ryan cracks inappropriate jokes (She may be in the 12-th grade but that ass is in grad school), has racist issues and hits on a teenage girl before the body of his father is buried. Lawrences general bad boy appearance and attitude appeal to lower-brow audience, those who enjoy naughty jokes and farcical behavior.

Another striking difference is displayed in the character of the elder brothers wife. The character played by Keeley Hawes, Jane, is a supportive wife desperately trying to fix her relationship with her mother-in-law. Her funeral outfit is neat and rather homely thus shifting the audiences attention to her sympathetic face and expressive eyes. Jane is preoccupied with her husbands paying the deposit money for the apartment that they are going to buy. Michelle, played by Regina Hall, is an entirely different character, a jaunty femme fatal in a low-cut sexy dress. She is also pressuring her husband but about a different issue: Michelle is determined to conceive a baby while she is still in the favorable time of her cycle and tries to seduce her husband in the middle of his fathers funeral.

The character of Oscar was one of the two characters that remained white in the 2010 version. He acquired new hints of meaning performed by James Marsden being significantly prettier than Alan Tudyk. Drugged and disoriented Oscar looks far less ugly and silly than Simon only because Marsden is so cute. Oscar is able to joke (Am I pregnant?) even under the influence of drugs which makes him even more adorable. Marsdens overt prettiness also makes Elaine shallower and more superficial than Martha because of her being into appearances.

Being in general more emotional and spontaneous, black characters shift accents in the story making it simpler but warmer and more appropriate for a family evening. The later version is also richer in explicit jokes that are easily comprehended by anyone unlike the British version with its comedy of situation. The only character left intact in the 2010 remake is the one played by Peter Dinklage his role as the gay dwarf became a sui generis reference to the original movie.

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