Sunday, December 6, 2009

Oops, They Did It Again

That's the "Ned Flanders" (i.e. not much to look at until he removes his clothes) of Hollywood, Alan Tudyk ("Dollhouse;" "Firefly:" "V") in Death at a Funeral, a 2007 comedy directed by Frank Oz. The movie, written by Dean Craig, is an outrageously funny look at the family secrets that come out after one dies. In this particular shot, Tudyk's character has taken what he believes is a Valium but is in reality, an hallucinogen. In the movie (WARNING - Spoilers ahead), the family patriarch has died and it comes to light that not only was he gay, but he had been having an affair with a Little Person (The Station Master's Peter Dinklage). I loved this movie when I saw it and urged everyone I knew to see it, as well.

Of course, Hollywood, being run by CPA's* rather than artistic visionaries, hired Craig to write a new version, starring a primarily African American cast, headed by Chris Rock; Martin Lawrence; Tracy Morgan; Danny Glover; Loretta Devine and Zoe Saldana. Of course, Luke Wilson and James Marsden are on hand as the token white men. Directed by Neil LaBute (In the Company of Men and the painfully bad remake of The Wicker Man, starring Nicholas Cage), the 2010 version looks just awful (though I must admit I don't mind seeing Marsden in the Tudyk role...).

Let's compare, shall we? Here's the trailer for the original:

And here's the trailer for the American version:

All I keep asking myself is: Why? And almost as important: Is Peter Dinklage the only Little Person working in movies? Why would he even agree to appear as the same character in a lame remake of a movie he'd already done?

Symptomatic of the problems that are inherent in most Hollywood movies today, the remake of Death at a Funeral is just another reminder of the sad state of modern American Cinema. There are loads of writers out there with original stories to tell. And there are loads of directors with original visions to commit to celluloid. Why should a once-promising director like LaBute be given a chance to remake yet another British classic, when he failed so spectacularly with The Wicker Man? Meanwhile, struggling writers with original ideas are reduced to peddling their scripts to independent filmmakers in the hope that they'll make a splash at Sundance or the Toronto Film Film Festival.

Yes, Hollywood has always been about making a profit. Every business is. But it also used to be about allowing people with vision to make original works of art that resonated with people around the world. It's so sad to see an industry that used to dominate the rest of world, reduced to making poor copies of what the rest of world produces.

I will not be seeing the new version of Death at a Funeral and I urge you to join me in boycotting what promises to be an unfunny mess. And yes, I know that remakes have been around almost as long as the industry itself. Hell, even DeMille remade The Ten Commandments, and A Star is Born is scheduled for its fourth incarnation. Still... I'd rather sit through an original film than a lame remake, any day. Sadly, until the sheep that most movie-goers are wake up and smell the disappointment, we'll be subjected to more of this kind of crap. And I will continue to gripe about it. 'Nuff said.

By the way, Uncle Prospero had a rather exciting phone call late last week, and may well have some very big news in the next coming weeks. Please keep your fingers, toes, eyes and any other body part you can, crossed for me. I'll let you know as soon as I can.

More, anon.

*Prospero in no way intends to mean that all CPAs are morons. Only those who are currently running the big Hollywood studios.


Anonymous said...

I think this movie is being remade for a black audience and as such, falls into a remake sub-catagory. I think this is Chris's 3rd or 4th remake.

I have to say that watching movies with my 12 year old nephew has given me a new insight into remakes. The older versions don't hold his attention or interest (usually to slow) and there is no emotional attachment to the old movie. The context is usually in need of explaining.

Prospero said...

I can understand that for a movie that's 20, 30 or 50 years old. But three years? Pointless other than the studio's (and the actors) grab for money.