When I heard in January that Eliza Dushku — the Buffy the Vampire Slayer vet now starring in Dollhouse — was making her producing debut with a biopic of Polaroid-loving photographer and big gay Robert Mapplethorpe, I added it to my mental list of “Movies to Get Excited About.” (Eliza’s older brother and co-producer Nate will play Robert; Eliza insists she’s not playing Patti Smith.) But today I heard Martin Lawrence and Tracy Morgan were joining Chris Rock, Danny Glover, and Zoe Saldana in the remake of Britain’s Death at a Funeral, and the reaction wasn’t exactly “excitement.” Rather, caution.
That’s because Funeral is about a family who loses their father, and at the funeral faces a blackmailer who threatens to out their father as his gay lover. And remember: This is a comedy. And while it all depends on what Funeral‘s writers do with the script, the comedic stylings of Lawrence of Morgan suggest cheap laughs with homophobic jokes (see: Wild Hogs) are on order. I’m not willing to judge the film yet, especially given how amusing the original looks, but I’ll have my eye out.
I do love, however, when producers take projects accustomed to all-white casts and summarily blackwash them. (Debbie Allen’s all-black Broadway production of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, starring sister Phylicia Rashad, Terrence Howard, James Earl Jones, Anika Noni Rose, and Lisa Arrindell Anderson was among my favorites.)