Chris Rock produces and stars in this remake of the British comedy of the same name, which was released only three years prior. While I thought the original wasn't great, it was still nonetheless funny.
Director Neil LaBute takes the same script and plays it for all the same laughs. With Chris Rock, and two other great black comics, Martin Lawrence and Tracy Morgan, as the leads, all the same laughs still turn out to be remarkably funny. I may even argue that they're funnier.
The entire film all takes place in one day and it all revolves around the funeral of the family's patriarch, Edward. Chris Rock plays Aaron, the eldest son who is supposed to give the eulogy but he's nervous about it. He's an aspiring writer but can't seem to come up with anything.
Martin Lawrence plays Ryan, the second son, Aaron's brother, and his mother's favorite. Ryan is in actuality everyone's favorite child, probably because he was lucky enough to get his novels published. Ryan isn't an aspiring writer. He's an actual accomplished one.
This is of course a source of consternation and jealousy for Aaron. It doesn't help that Ryan and everyone else take every opportunity to rub Ryan's success in Aaron's face. It makes the fact that he has to write a great eulogy even worse.
If sibling rivalry was the only thing Aaron had to worry about, that would be fine, but pretty much everything that can go wrong at a funeral goes wrong in this one. From drug abuse to blackmail to nudity to the splashing of human feces, this is all certainly one death memorial to remember.
Changing the ethnicity of the family from the original is really the major difference here, and in many ways I think the movie's saving grace. In the British film, the family is all white, but in this remake, the family is all black.
All the comical elements are repeated, so they alone are our sure to make you laugh whether or not you've seen the original, but for those of us who have, the nuances due to the racial and ethnic changes make the film slightly more interesting.
I have to give a special shout-out to James Marsden who is one of only two caucasian characters in the film. Marsden plays Oscar, a future cousin-in-law to Aaron. Without telling too much, Marsden gives a balls-out performance that steals almost every scene and certainly got most of the sight gags. Chris Rock, of course, gets all the great, verbal one-liners.
Four Stars out of Five
Rated R for language, drug content and some sexual humor
Running Time: 1 hr. and 32 mins.