An urbanised remake of a 2007 British comedy of the same name, Death at a Funeral does not land a single genuine laugh. A pointless remake of an average film, Death at a Funeral plays like a comedy with a crippling lack of confidence, relying on a shiny ensemble of talented comedians to bring it to life. Unfortunately, the film doesn’t seem to have a heart to begin with: it’s mechanical, calculated and at best; childish.

The death of a father brings his family together at his funeral. The event itself has no apparent impact on the characters, but it ties the multiple story threads together, reuniting the two sons (Rock and Lawrence) that have been estranged for years. Add to the mix some extended family members such as the senile old uncle (Glover), and a niece (Saldana) chased by her ex-boyfriend (Wilson); and you have enough subplots to make the tension quite colourful.

When the funeral starts, so does the madness. A bottle of valium makes the rounds, but no one seems to notice that it’s really filled with acid pills. The casket appears to have a tendency to open at the most hilarious moments, and an unannounced guest drops a bombshell that you’ll see coming a mile away.

Chris Rock’s on-stage comedic talents have never fully translated to the silver screen. His performances suffer from misplaced earnestness that always rings as desperate and immature. He has no reservations about exposing his vulnerability, as opposed to his co-star Morgan, who plays the same bumbling, loud-mouthed buffoon in every film, never exposing the least bit of humanity. That detached larger-than-life persona plays to his advantage on 30 Rock, where he’s basically a walking punch line-dispensing machine; but when he’s positioned as an actual human, his biggest strength turns against him.

What’s most frustrating about Death at a Funeral is its lack of investment: the film doesn’t bother to explore the plot’s potential beyond the obvious poop joke and embarrassing slapstick. Most of the quirks generate from the narrow dynamics of an average sitcom, and they become tiresome after the 20-minute mark; the average running time of a sitcom episode.

Death at a Funeral has a callousness that is not only mind-numbing; it’s also infectious.