I didn’t see the original Death at a Funeral (2007), but my fondness of Alan Tudyk, who starred in the film, means that it’s hard for me to see the necessity of a remake just two years later, although I do find the translation into an African-American family interesting*:
I’m not sure there’s actually an “urban” twist on the scenario of a family reuniting for its’ patriarch’s funeral to find they’re being blackmailed by his secret boyfriend, or even in this remake of it just because the actors are black, but I suppose if the studio wants to sell it that way, that’s fine with me. One thing they kept the same though struck me: Peter Dinklage plays the father’s lover in both the original and the remake. Or, as Chris Rock puts it to Martin Lawrence in the ”Our father was bromantically involved with a guy that could fit in his pocket, and you’re mad because he’s white?”
I think this is smart. Dinklage is an exceedingly fine actor, and incredibly sexy dude. I think his attractiveness throws a lot of people for a loop, given that he has a condition that causes dwarfism. And I think frequently when we see actors with physical or intellectual disabilities on television or on film, we think of them in terms of those conditions, and in terms of issues of representation. Dinklage shatters that. He is not an affirmative action hire, and he is not a plain guy. He seems entirely capable of seducing older men, Liz Lemon, or anyone else who passes him by. And I think that’s useful, in a way that goes far beyond mere representation. True embrace of people with bodies that differ from our own comes in multiple stages: we have to learn to look at people, whether they’re of small stature, of different skin color, or of different mobility, etc. as we do everybody else, and then we have to learn to look upon people different than us with desire.
Dinklage’s sexiness is, in addition to being enjoyable for all of those of us who get to watch him act and find men attractive, a kind of radical act. He has refused to simply be the small guy who gets the very few roles available for men who are not of standard height. He’s transcended the slot, to become very much himself, an act that will benefit a lot of other people.
*As a total aside, does anyone find it as strange as I do that studios will just throw together large numbers of black comedians in movies and assume they look–or have chemistry like–family? Just an odd peeve.