Dysfunktional Family Movie Review
There's no denying that Griffin has an easy confidence and a practiced style on stage. It's just that his material and delivery aren't superior enough to entice comedy fans to put their butts in movie theater seats. Even when Griffin's content is witty and thought provoking -- like his view of a short "racism-free" period after September 11 -- his windup and pitch just don't get you laughing out loud.
DysFunKtional Family does get interesting when Griffin tackles standard comic stuff - his family. Thankfully for Griffin, his is pretty off-kilter. His mother spanked him and his siblings heartily. His uncle is a porn connoisseur who collects snapshots of women's genitalia. Another uncle is an ex-heroin addict who became one of Eddie's greatest supporters. And Griffin lays their lives out there, for an entire Kansas City theater to see, while his clan sits in the front row.
Director George Gallo (Double Take) attempts a neat idea of overlapping Griffin's family with his performance, cross cutting between Griffin's onstage rap and his relatives telling the same exact, true-life stories off-stage. Unfortunately, the bare, twisted concept is wasted thanks to some generally atrocious editing. The sequences stutter by with a rhythm that never gets established, leaving nothing for the viewer to grab on to. When Griffin begins one sentence and his mom finishes the thought in a separate interview, the idea works best. Otherwise, the herky-jerky cutting comes across as a strictly amateur endeavor.
On top of that, Gallo tosses another "auteur's" touch onto the pile, adding completely needless sound effects to Griffin's already-animated performance. So, while Griffin discusses his mother nearly running over him with a car (!), we hear "vroom, vroom!" on the soundtrack. When he tells about darkening a room and bringing home an ugly girl, there are sounds of light switch clicks. It's an uncomfortable stab at injecting "filmmaking" into live concert footage.
Griffin, despite all the needless bells and whistles, can be a fairly enjoyable centerpiece, riffing on race, oral sex, Michael Jackson, and a litany of other topics that most "raunchy" comics usually delve into. Known as an excellent dancer nearly all his life, Griffin uses his wiry flexibility and physical control to his advantage, combining it with his acting ability to give his show some depth and polish. When he takes "requests" at the end of the gig, his set of impersonations is one of the most impressive and pleasing moments of the concert and the film.
For a healthy portion of the show, Griffin tends to begin and end nearly every sentence with the "n" word, making for a curious -- and often tiring -- rampage of profanity, sounding like a military man who surrounds his sentences by hollering "Sir!" While I understand Griffin's right to use the word in any manner he wishes, it sounds unnecessary after a while... and then he explains himself, saying that he utters it often so that it loses its meaning (a la Lenny Bruce). Smart move.
Even at a fairly trim 82 minutes, the film doesn't urge enough of that eyebrow-raising, doesn't provide nearly enough laughs and is sunk by its little "cinematic" stunts. In the end, DysFunKtional Family feels more like a dragging 100 minutes. At one point in his routine, Griffin asks the question: Have I said too much? Yeah, Eddie, maybe.
The DVD adds an extra half hour of Griffin riffs (on sports, parenting, and, of course, white people). There's also a short bit of outtakes from the movie premiere, mainly featuring Eddie's wacky family.
Aka Eddie Griffin: Dys-funk-tional Family.