Death at a cinema

These days it’s common for production companies to remake films. Sometimes successfully, and sometimes not so much. Most of the time I shrug it off. I mean, technology is advancing at such a rate that there are old films which would drastically benefit from a revamp.

But when a production house picks up a film which is barely three years old and was done perfectly the first time around… Well, it annoys me.

Case in point: Death at a Funeral, the 2007 film directed by Frank Oz and starring Matthew Macfadyen, Keeley Hawes, Andy Nyman, Ewen Bremner, Alan Tudyk and Peter Dinklage.

It’s a hilarious British film which had me laughing from start to finish. In fact, I love the film so much I own the DVD. The British just have such a dry touch when it comes to humour. They manage to craft a situation so as to get the most laughs from little more than a slight change in facial expression, or the tone in which a line is delivered.

No resorting to cheap slapstick and toilet humour. To be fair, Death at a Funeral does have its fair share of slapstick and (literal) toilet humour, but it doesn’t drive the film. It is incidental. There is no feeling that the people in charge sat down and decided to ram in gags to get more laughs. The film would still be funny if those scenes were cut.

But.

The thing which has ruffled my feathers is that our friends over in the United States have decided to remake the film. Not three years later, with an American cast and a slightly different take on the family.

The new version, directed by Neil LaBute, will star Chris Rock, Martin Lawrence, Danny Glover, Luke Wilson and James Marden. Oh and Peter Dinklage reprises his role.

Now I’m not saying they’re going to make a totally hash of it. Erm, actually, I think I kind of am.

Why oh why oh why, do they feel the need to take a film which was perfect on so many levels and re-do it?

Is it because maybe they didn’t think the international audience was clever enough to “get” it? I certainly hope not. I think sometimes people in the entertainment and media bizz don’t give their viewers and readers enough credit.

Is it because they realized how well the British version was received and thought they’d try to translate it for the US market in the hopes of cashing in? I certainly hope not. There have got to be thousands of talented writers out there who are able to write brilliant, funny and intelligent new screenplays. Why not air the new talent rather than nicking someone else’s laundry, making a few adjustments and parading it as your own?

And if you’re going to remake a film, at least wait until enough years have gone by that’s it’s not a slap in the face to the people involved the first time around, or wait until technology has advanced enough that you can make a new version that will blow the previous one out of the water.

Will I go and see the new one when it’s released in June? Probably not, but I may have calmed down enough the time it comes out on DVD.

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