Sunday, November 9, 2008

What Has Hollywood Come To?

Death at a Funeral is a British comedy that came out in mid-2007. While it got mostly good reviews, it did not fair well at the box office in the United States. Of course, it is very rare for a British comedy or any kind of foreign movie period to do well in the United States box office. I went to see Death at a Funeral last September, and I must say that it is a pretty good movie.

British comedies are different from comedies made in America. They tend to be more subtle and well-acted, and overall just more funny. In America, you get the sense that everything is overacted because the actor onscreen knows that they're in a comedy so they are trying to be funny instead of just letting the humor be natural. Half the time I expect the actor to look at us through the screen, wink and say "Watch this" before embarking on their next over-the-top "hilarious" escapade. I've found that most comedies these days just aren't that funny. The ones that work are the ones where the actors just let the humor fall naturally and play their part as if they're not the funny one, but funny things are just happening to them. You get the occasional over-the-top performance that is great and funny, but those are rare.

The actors in Death at a Funeral played their roles straight and let the humor arise out of the situation. They did not overreact and did not "wink" every time something was about to happen. They reacted like any normal person would in their given situation. Well...sort of. If you've seen the movie, I wonder how many of us would allow us to behave in such a manner, but you never know. The point is, Death at a Funeral is a funny, entertaining movie that was well-received by critics, but just not seen by very many people.

So what does Hollywood do? They decide to remake Death at a Funeral with American actors in American settings. That's right! The movie that came out in 2007 is already being remade or "re-imagined" by Hollywood. (see the link below)

As someone who has seen the movie and can find nothing wrong with it the way it is, I am left with one question; Why? Why must Hollywood insist upon doing this? It's one thing to "re-imagine" a 30- or 40-year-old movie that could still be relevant in modern times (although a lot of remakes these days are unnecessary if the original was good enough), but to remake a movie that will barely be 2-years-old by the time its remake comes out?

Now I suppose it can be considered "flattering" for American filmmakers to want to take a British concept and Americanize it for American audiences, but I have two big problems with that. The first is already touched upon above in the difference between American and British comedies and why American comedies these days simply do not work, for the most part! The second is, what does the original gain from being remade? It's not being updated for modern times, because it already came out in modern times. It's being updated because...well, someone likes the idea and what's to give their take. And that's when the slapstick kicks in when they can't come up with anything overly different to do from the original.

Now, maybe I'm being overly harsh and critical of a movie that hasn't already been written or made...excuse me, rewritten or remade...but I'm sure you can understand my puzzlement and frustration with this situation. There really just is no need for this. All this really does is display just how bankrupt and desperate Hollywood has become for fresh and new ideas. Instead of paying writers to actually come up with their own ideas, we are being forced to watch remake after remake of movies that perfectly fine the first time (i.e, Psycho and The Omen) and do not need to be remade.

Oh, I also read that there's a case where a foreign movie was remade but the remake is going to hit theaters before the original even does! What!?!


Evie said...

I usually don't like remakes of older movies either, let alone remakes of movies that have barely made it to Blockbuster's shelves as DVDs.

I also generally prefer British comedy to American stuff too. We get to see some British comedies on PBS here, but we had a much better selection of them in Iowa City, and an even better selection in Winnipeg.

Joanne said...

That's as bad as the british commercial that was dubbed over by american actors voices so that americans could "understand" it better!

Dave said...

I concur with your outline on the differences between British and American comedies. You nicely expressed key differences. The British have a more refined sense of how to play with words to create humor.

Stephen said...

It's all about the American sense of how the world revolves around itself. Americans at times struggle with a global perspective, that others may actually have it right.