In 2007 the British version of Death at a funeral was released. It was so funny it hurt, but that was not the point. The best comedies are subversive and are more than just laughs, they come in under the radar and hit you when you are least expecting it. At their best they are subtle and for this reason many people just see the laughs and the subtext is entirely lost.
One of my favourite examples is the Peter Sellers/Blake Edwards classic The Party. These two were an explosive combination, comedic genius but with an almost homicidally factious relationship. Like death at a funeral it dealt with issues such as class and prejudice in a humorous and disarming way.Â In one way Death at a Funeral is a modern remake of The Party. In both there is a setup which demands adherence to a strict social etiquette. Contrasted to this are characters who, by their very nature do not adhere to these expectations. There are even parallels in the opening sequence with the film shoot going wrong in The party and the wrong coffin at Death at a Funeral.
I have been reading the reviews for the US remake of Death at a Funeral and the first thing that striks me is why? What is the point of trying to remake a classic merely three years after the original? What could a Black/White version made with “comedy” actors bring to such a sophisticated and intelligent comedy? To be fair I have not seen the remake but reading the reviews makes me want to see it out of curiosity. I might be wrong of course and it could be a completely fresh take on the theme of class and societal divisions but somehow I doubt it. Especially since almost all of the reviewers consider Chris Rock to be mis-cast.