Dysfunktional Family review by Mike Long

A trend which seems to come and go in Hollywood is the stand-up comedy feature film. Every few years, we get a wave of comics who want to bring their act to the local cineplex. One of these recent efforts was from comic Eddie Griffin with his film DysFunktional Family, a project which blends stand-up with biographical vignettes.

With DysFunktional Family, comic Eddie Griffin, best known for films such as Double Take and the TV series "Malcolm & Eddie", returns to his hometown of Kansas City, Missouri for a performance. This allows Griffin to splice footage of his family in-between his jokes. In these side-pieces, we meet Griffin's mother, his Uncle Curtis (a man who loves to watch porno films and often makes his own), and his Uncle Bucky (a recovering drug addict). Griffin devotes much of his act to talking about his family and his upbringing, and uses theses video montages to enhance the story. Outside of this Griffin talks about relationships, drugs, sex, racism, and surprisingly, cats.

I've never been a huge fan of Eddie Griffin (I find his voice to be grating), but I enjoyed him in the woefully underrated Undercover Brother (if you haven't seen it, see it right now!) , so I thought I'd give DysFunktional Family a shot. The movie has some very funny moments, but for the most part, it's an unfunny, and at times, depressing mishmash. If I had to score this concert on a continuum, I would say that it's much better than Martin Lawrence's numbingly bad Runteldat, but nowhere near as good as Chris Rock's best work, for example "Bring the Pain". Griffin is one of those comics who works far too hard to be shocking and doesn't allow his nature comedic talent to show through. There are several moments here where Griffin's jokes are not only very clever, but very insightful as well. His remark about why men aren't good at accepting gifts is priceless, and his assumption that all of the great historical figures were on drugs is very funny. His discussion of cats vs. dogs is hardly original, but it is funny.

But, far too often, Griffin goes for the shocking, controversial joke and misses by a mile. His outlook on racism has some humorous insights, but too often becomes a diatribe. And like many comics before him, his discussion of relationships turns into a misogynistic rant, as he affirms that sex is just an act and women are merely objects of sexual gratification. (And why do comedians feel that they must tell us that oral sex is good. We know this.) The film’s real low-points come during Griffin’s discussion of his family and the filmed vignettes which accompany this. The DVD box promises that we will “(discover) how your favorite comedians got so funny.” Apparently, it was a defense mechanism to deal with all of the tragedy in his family. As with comedians such as Richard Jeni and Louie Anderson, Griffin makes the mistake of getting too serious and this is a real turn off. I’m not saying that he shouldn’t be allowed to tell his story, but this goes beyond bittersweet to downright sad. Making matters worse is the direction of George Gallo, who has edited the film in a jarring manner, so that the audience allows feels as if we missed the opening line to the joke. And be warned, if you are the least bit sensitive to the "N word", then stay far away from this movie, as Griffin utters it every four seconds.

DysFunktional Family rolls onto DVD from Miramax Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 1.85:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. DysFunktional Family was shot on HDTV quality digital video, so the image is very sharp and clear, showing no grain. The picture also showns none of the blurring and “whiteout” effects usually associated with video. There are some moments of video noise and there are a few scenes where the image looks slightly dark and muddy. The DVD offers a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track. This track offers clear dialogue during the stand-up routines, and a nice bass response from the in-film music. The surround sound effects are practically non-existent, except for one moment where a heckler yells something at Griffin and this comes from the left rear speaker. I honestly thought that someone was in my house!

The DysFunktional Family DVD contains only two extras. There are 16 deleted scenes, 7 taken from the stand-up section of the movie, and 9 additional “real world” vignettes with Griffin’s family. The other extra is the 4-minute “A DysFunktional Premiere” which offers scenes from the film’s premiere and more quotes from Griffin’s outspoken family.

5 out of 10 Jackasses

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