Eddie Griffin's new concert film/documentary, "Dysfunktional Family," is a sometimes funny, sometimes tacky, and sometimes offensive 84 minute stand-up routine. Stand-up movies are the most challenging films to review because the entire movie is about a comedian telling jokes to an audience laughing much harder than any viewer in the theater.
I was hoping to watch an original presentation that wasn't just about sex, drugs and race. It turns out that this movie is just about sex, drugs and race. Taking place in Griffin's hometown, Kansas City, Missouri, the majority of the film is Griffin's routine, although it is often intercut with interviews and videos of the people and places that eventually inspired Griffin to become a comedian.
The word 'family' from the title refers to Griffin's exploitation of his real-life family. He talks about three key characters; his borderline-abusive mother, his porn-addicted Uncle Curtis, and his Uncle Bucky, a former pimp, convict, and heroin addict. It wasn't so bad listening to Griffin talk about his family, it was only when the camera actually cut to these individuals did this film sink pretty low.
Uncle Curtis shows no dignity because he is too busy showing us his picture collection of female genitalia. When the camera isn't on the pictures, it's on the television screen showcasing one of Curtis's many porn tapes. Uncle Bucky explains how he was both the drug abuser and Griffin's fatherly figure at the same time. Griffin's lovely mother recalls times when she would beat her son senseless whenever he needed a good fixing. Griffin's portrayal of his beatings on-stage were somewhat funny, especially since his family was sitting in the front-row the entire show.
I tried to receive the message Griffin was trying to get out, but I'm not sure if there was a message at all. While there's no pride in Uncle Curtis, there is a chance at seeing Uncle Bucky redeem himself. In one short clip, we see Bucky at a rehab clinic talking to other drug abusers. On camera, Bucky tells us that his past experiences have helped teach Griffin the right way to live life. Griffin even recalls a time witnessing his uncle getting high and how he learned that drugs are bad and lead to negative consequences. Then he repeatedly contradicts himself by never failing to mention in every joke that he was always high or stoned whenever in a particular situation worth talking about in his routine.
When Griffin isn't rapping about his family, he raps about the standard sex, drugs and race issues. The highpoint of his routine comes when he discusses the roles of men and women; men are the givers and women are the receivers. But even at this crude moment, I didn't find myself rolling on the floor from laughing so hard. Checking to make sure that I wasn't the only one, I checked and saw that the people next to and in front of me reacted in a similar fashion. A few outbursts here and a few ovations there, but nothing like I witnessed through "Old School."
Does Griffin ever go too far? I would say no, because he doesn't say anything that hasn't been said before. I already knew that flight 11 and 175 wouldn't have crashed into the Twin Towers if the passengers were mostly black, because black people aren't afraid of Muslims with box cutters the same way whites are. I didn't need Griffin's 'white person' imitation because I already knew that all white people are nerds, can't walk straight, have no rhythm, and need to learn how to relax, and just chill; all white girls are airheads and submissive to any black guy wanting to take her home for some action.
The movie actually opens with Griffin on the street pretending he's the subject of a documentary about a recent prison parolee with the sole purpose of making a white guy look like a complete moron. He's shown again near the end giving Griffin a few good words of encouragement. It will be embarrassing if the kid ever sees this movie, but then again he kind of deserves it for not recognizing "Undercover Brother's" Eddie Griffin.
Griffin wonders why it is so hard it is to find Osama bin Laden and then follows up by harassing a Sikh on the street, yelling, "bin Laden!" Not only does this poor guy have to put up with discrimination on a daily basis, now his face is shown across the country on the big screen.
Griffin does his best not to marginalize the audience despite the fact that he uses the n-word well over 300 times. He eventually shifts from talking about sex, drugs, and race and goes into religion, cats vs. dogs, then switches back to sex, drugs and race.
Another problem I found is that Griffin needs assistance to make his material funnier. Much of time his routine is accompanied by sound and special effects to get the point across. When talking about Bucky's drug problems, the camera gets blurry to show the mindset of a person shooting up heroin. When discussing how his mother would often hit him, a whip-cracking sound would follow his explanation. And of course, when talking about Michael Jackson, a photo of a the female ape from "Planet of the Apes" covers the screen.
"Dysfunktional Family" has it moments but it offers nothing new and doesn't match wits with "The Original Kings of Comedy." It has a few good parts and some decent segments, but they aren't worth the big screen and would have best been suited as an HBO special.
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