Why, Hollywood, Why?

December 20, 2009

Last night I went to the movies and, as is now par for the course, was bombarded by commercials for twenty-five minutes prior to the screening. By the time the previews started, I would’ve gladly watched almost anything that didn’t scream at me to shop at Wal-Mart or switch my “3G network”—whatever that is—and I largely held back judgment on the films being advertised. But then I saw this.

A lot of folks on the internets are mad at Chris Rock for remaking what they consider a “great British comedy,” but with all due respect, those people are idiots. 2007’s Death At a Funeral was less a true British comedy than a labored American facsimile, directed by Frank Oz with all the subtlety of an anvil to the head. Largely ignored in the States and trashed in the UK, the film faded away soon after its release, and with good reason. Alas, someone must’ve decided the original was too sophisticated for American audiences (particularly African Americans) and has remade the film a mere three years after its release. With a star-studded black cast, yes, but also with what appears to be an otherwise identical script and story, down to the title and the casting of Peter Dinklage as a blackmailing gay midget (what, was Tony Cox not available?)

My question is, why? The first Death At a Funeral may not have done well with black audiences, but then it didn’t do too well with the rest of us either, and besides, anyone who didn’t see it the first time is undoubtedly better off. Why punish black audiences for being wise enough to steer clear of a shitty film in the first place? And why remake a movie, black or otherwise, that recieved poor reviews, did poor box office numbers, and is still relatively fresh in the minds of moviegoers?

I wish I’d asked Danny Glover these questions when I ran into him at Fort Funston last year. Not wanting to disturb the veteran thespian, I merely nodded and let him pass. After Death At A Funeral hits theatres, he may want to stay inside for a while.