The original wasn’t a classic, but it had some raucous complications & a touching performance by Matthew MacFayden as the departed’s befuddled son. Sadly, despite the great cast the new version, directed by Neil LaBute, just doesn’t work up much of a head of steam; the complications feel tedious rather than comically frenzied.
Part of the shortfall, it pains me to say, is probably Chris Rock. Arguably the best living American stand-up comic, & inarguably one of the two or three best, Rock just isn’t a movie star. He’s occasionally been strong in supporting roles, in films like New Jack City, Nurse Betty & Lethal Weapon 4, but in his starring roles he seems to lose his exciting presence & verve. Mysteriously, he becomes boring—a scrawny, pleasantly smiling young man with none of his stage charisma.
Still, the movie has its moments, including a hysterical scatological flourish featuring Glover & Morgan. Peter Dinklage reprises his role from the first film & is very good, again. Also, it was great to hear “Papa Was a Rolling Stone” under the end credits.