In the vein of Richard Pryor: Live in Concert and Eddie Murphy’s Raw, George Gallo’s Dysfunktional Family affords comedian Eddie Griffin (Undercover Brother) 90 minutes to talk about all things raunch n’ kink. The speed with which pro-pussy, anti-ugly Griffin chucks material at his audience is perhaps less shocking than how little of it actually manages to stick. Griffin’s impersonation of a stealth-balancing heroin addict is a riot but the funniest bit casts the ever-whitening Michael Jackson as an “invisible nigger” sent to fight the war in Afghanistan. Griffin unsuccessfully conceals his contempt for Arabs by calling attention to the legacy of slavery, and as such Dysfunktional Family repeatedly proclaims that the emperor has no clothes. A homophobe in the strictest sense of the word, Griffin gives props to gay men because anyone who can take a dick up their ass and still keep a smile on their face is certainly a force to be reckoned with. Griffin’s endearing relationship to his mother (not to mention his nostalgic endorsement of child abuse) is repeatedly undermined by the near crippling glean of racism-disguised-as-radical-thought. The concert film’s ultimate failure, though, is that it’s been edited with attention deficit. The frequent cutaways to Griffin’s audience give the film a full-bodied personality that other recent comedy films have lacked, but that the audience is sometimes laughing even before Griffin is finished with his jokes suggests that the same Miramax shills who crowded Chicago‘s New York media screening were doing double duty here.
As with most concert films transferred to video, anything bad that can be said about Dysfunktional Family's audio and video presentation can be blamed less on the technical brains behind this DVD edition than the actual film's "guerrilla" filmmaking. Probably because the film was shot on video, edge enhancement is the least of its problems. The film's concert footage suffers from its fair share of artifacts and popping audio. The off-stage theatrics fare considerably better, but that's a mixed blessing considering that Griffin fans are likely checking this disc out more for the comedian's shtick than the off-screen familial melodramas director Gallo frequently cuts to.
I could have done without Jennifer Pryor telling us that ex-husband Richard loves Eddie Griffin's humor, but the short Dysfunktional Family premiere footage included here offers a sweet glimpse of Griffin's wise-ass family members as they go to the premiere engagement of the film. Also included is a whopping 35 minutes of deleted scenes from the film. Though some moments are clearly extensions of existing footage, the bulk of the 35 minutes consists of unseen concert footage. And like any of the material that did make the final cut, the results are alternately hysterical and offensive. Griffin's funny when his shtick isn't too hung up on race and other men's asses, but he's still no Richard Pryor.
Fans of Dysfunktional Family may want to check out this DVD edition for the impressive 35 minutes of deleted/alternate scenes tucked away in the special features section.