Death at a Funeral remake is only so-so

After his ill-fated Wicker Man revision (recently cited on as one of the top-ten turkeys ever), once cutting-edge filmmaker Neil Labute remakes another British property, and the good news is that humor here is intentional. It's a so-so Americanization of the 2007 Death at a Funeral, an ensemble farce of escalating disaster and humiliation at an upscale funeral held in a plush home, in which the wrong corpse delivered at the outset is the least that goes wrong. Following the Frank Oz original nearly scene for scene, this has a largely black cast; Chris Rock, replacing Matthew McFayden, as an eldest son staging the affair, suffering sibling competition by his hotshot novelist brother (Martin Lawrence, replacing Rupert Graves), as well as blackmail demands of a gay dwarf (Peter Dinklage, repeating his 2007 role), secret lover of the deceased. There's also a loose-cannon container of designer drugs making folks hallucinate, nasty old Uncle Russell (local union hero Danny Glover), and, yes, the bare-ass nudity and projectile-excrement gags retained (fortunately not at the same time). Some funny bits, and Rock and Lawrence play off each other well, though the picture rather paradoxically goes out of its way to be color-blind in its interaction of black and white characters. More acknowledgment of the race-change might have lent some extra juice. Call me a white devil, but I wondered how Tyler Perry might have handled the material - or is he booked for the Hispanic/Latino remake? ** 1/2

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