by Eric D. Snider
Released: April 4, 2003
I had long hoped that someone would make a film pointing out the humorous difference between white people and black people, and now Eddie Griffin's "DysFunKtional Family" has done it!!!!!!!!!!
Comedy in film is subjective -- what make me laugh might not make you laugh, and vice versa -- and stand-up comedy is even more so. We can talk a little about less emotional issues like how the film was produced, whether the camera angles work, things like that, but what a concert film boils down to is: Do you think this person is funny?
I had few preconceived opinions on Eddie Griffin, having never watched his TV series "Malcolm and Eddie" and having found his film work a mixed bag. ("Undercover Brother" was very funny, but "Double Take" was mediocre.)
"DysFunktional Family" has Griffin back in his home town of Kansas City, Mo., and the bulk of the film is his stand-up act. He directs his comments primarily at a black audience, and your appreciation of them may depend on your falling into that category, though I -- an extremely white man -- laughed quite a few times, too.
I have a certain admiration for a comedian, like Griffin, who will blithely make jokes about anything, no matter how taboo. In this show, Griffin unapologetically expresses post-9/11 racism toward Arabs, makes jokes about (and does an impression of) retarded people, gives sample conversations between God and Jesus, and displays some rather un-p.c. attitudes toward gays, too.
He also gets in some good lines about Michael Jackson -- his father, Joe Jackson, "beat those kids into superstardom" -- and why inventors such as Alexander Graham Bell must have been on drugs ("I wish I could talk to someone who ain't even here...."). Some of his funniest stuff comes from the humdrum topic of cats and dogs, largely because his impressions of these animals are filtered through his from-the-'hood persona.
And, of course, he addresses sex, in very graphic terms.
Most of what he says throughout the show can't be printed in reputable outlets such as this one; his use of the F word and N word is non-stop, and the latter word is used as punctuation, often both beginning and ending a sentence. Again, your tolerance of this will in large part determine whether you enjoy the film.
Director George Gallo (who directed Griffin in "Double Take, too) does more with the film than he ought to. Some of Griffin's stories are "enhanced" with sound effects that distract more than help, and the inter-cutting between Griffin onstage and Griffin offstage, talking with his family, frequently disrupts the rhythm of the joketelling. I could swear a lot of the audience reaction has been sweetened with canned laughter, too. It just sounds unnatural a lot of times.
So there you have it. I laughed often. One of the critics sitting near me seldom laughed, another one laughed more than I did. The mostly black audience we watched with laughed more than any of us. Griffin is a talent, and he knows his audience. The film captures that more than anything.
Rated R, non-stop harsh profanity, some very strong sexual dialogue and clips of sexual activity, partial nudity
1 hr., 24 min.
Copyright © Eric D. Snider.
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