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(2003) (Eddie Griffin) (R)

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Comedy: Standup comedian Eddie Griffin covers various topics in this filmed concert performance.
In a filmed concert performance, standup comedian Eddie Griffin covers various topics while also reflecting on his family and growing up in Kansas City.
OUR TAKE: 4 out of 10
When it comes to filmed standup comedy performances, the advantage is that they're cheap to produce yet usually reap great profits both in theaters and then later on video. The disadvantage is that they're usually rather boring from a visual standpoint since they usually only consist of footage of the performer and the occasional cutaways to the audience.

Obviously sensing that, director George Gallo ("Double Take," "Trapped in Paradise") has decided to jazz up comedian Eddie Griffin's standup concert film "Dysfunktional Family." Aside from those audience cutaways and some backstage footage, Gallo has included various sound and visual effects to enhance the material, as well as clips and interviews featuring Griffin's various family members.

The former does little for the effort beyond making one question whether Gallo and/or Griffin didn't have complete faith in the comedy bits. That also holds true for the various crowd cutaways that dominate the beginning but thankfully somewhat diminish as the 80-some minute effort proceeds. We can already hear the audience laughing and thus such reaction shots - that don't always seem as if they're contiguous with the jokes - feel forced and far too manipulative.

While I understand what they were trying to achieve with the off-stage family material - namely showing how Griffin's childhood and family life affected him and his sense of humor (as well as supplied him with various routines) - it isn't as effective as envisioned. Gallo occasionally cuts away in the middle of a story to show some family member talking about or even telling the same thing. Such cutaways don't add much, but they do disrupt the rhythm and timing of those comedy bits.

As far as those jokes and routines themselves, it's obvious that Griffin ("Undercover Brother," "The New Guy") studied or at least was influenced by the previous work of the likes of Richard Pryor, Eddie Murphy and maybe even Martin Lawrence.

Unfortunately, that also means that much of the material feels recycled, whether it's the sexual humor, the black experience in America bit or the differences between blacks and whites. Admittedly, some of it is funny, or at least amusing. Yet, it's hard to shake the feeling that you've heard the material or something quite close to it before.

The best part of the film comes at the end when Griffin impersonates various celebrities by playing them in the inverse context to which they're normally associated (such as Sammy Davis, Jr. working in McDonald's and Bill Cosby working as a pimp, etc.).

The rest of the material is of the hit or miss variety, although much of that will depend on your sense of humor and what you find funny versus offensive. If you like your comedy crude, rude and obscene (as well as occasionally funny), this offering will probably be right up your alley.

On the other hand, if you don't and/or wonder if comedians such as Griffin could still be considered funny without relying on a barrage of profanity and more, you'll probably want to skip this film. With its structure a bit akin to its title, "Dysfunktional Family" rates as just a 4 out of 10.

Reviewed March 27, 2003 / Posted April 4, 2003

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