The father of Aaron (Chris Rock) and Ryan (Martin Lawrence) has recently died, and the funeral arrangements have been made, but on the day the service is supposed to be held, in the home of the deceased as per his wishes, there's a small problem. Well, quite a big problem because the funeral director has delivered the wrong body, as Aaron points out, this is a Chinese man in the casket, rather than his dad. But that is only the beginning of a day that will be marked with disaster and mishap - how hard can it be to hold a funeral, anyway?
Here's an odd thing, a remake of a British film by the Americans arriving a full three years after the original had been released, which was curious as every comic beat that the first one had hit in Dean Craig's script was faithfully recreated, with the sole reason that this was duplicated being that the cast first time around were not as likely to attract the new audience the remakers were hoping for second time around. Nevertheless, just about everyone who was aware of this mark 2 incarnation were also aware of the mark 1, and found it impossible not to compare the two.
If you liked the original, chances were that you were not going to appreciate this version any more, as so little was done with it to make it distinct from its source this was more like one of those instances of Hollywood buying a hit sitcom from the other side of the Pond and recreating it with an American cast, and we all know how massively successful such practices usually go, as for every Sanford and Son there are a billion Paynes, or so it would seem. But if you were able to put that to the back of your mind, or if you were one of those who had never seen the UK one (it was not an especially big hit), was it possible to enjoy this?
Indeed it was possible, it's just that it never rose above the level of mildly amusing without being offensively dreadful. In spite of humour that would willingly embrace the crass, you never felt that it truly set out to shock, just go for the "I can't believe they went there" big laughs which were more likely to elicit a shrug. Certainly the ensemble cast were willing, and none of them embarrassed themselves, but then with gags like Danny Glover shitting on Tracy Morgan's hand they were not exactly driven to the very limits of their comedic potential either. The director this time was Neil LaBute, well known for his kneeslapping humour (well The Wicker Man remake made a few people chortle), but here he's about as anonymous as he ever was.
The plot is intended to see the characters caught up in an escalating spiral of setpieces, so James Marsden plays the fiancé of niece of the deceased Zoë Saldana, stressed because he knows her father doesn't like him, who pops a couple of valium only to find out that he's actually taken LSD. Cue much kookiness from Mr Marsden. Then there's a mysterious dwarf (Peter Dinklage, the only cast member to have appeared in the original), who has a secret that he wants to reveal and a lot of money he wants to inherit, but really he's a walking punchline. So it goes on, never really picking up the pace, never attaining hilarity, simply trundling along until we reach the sentimental ending that seems to say, but seriously folks, love your family, and not, as the rest of the film has been saying, good grief, Jean-Paul Sartre was right: Hell is other people. Music by Christophe Beck.