Eddie Griffin has shown real electricity on screen before, especially in “Undercover Brother.” (Even in a loser like “Double Take” he had a certain gruff charisma.) This concert film of his stand-up routine demonstrates that he’s got tons of energy on the stage as well. The difference is that while “Brother” had a clever script with plenty of amusing lines, the material in “Dysfunktional Family” is too often more loud than funny. It’s crude, of course, but that wouldn’t matter if it weren’t also misogynistic, homophobic and–even worse–repetitive. Some bits earn laughs, of course–with a talent like Griffin’s on tap it could hardly be otherwise–but by and large this is a disappointment.
Things aren’t helped by the fact that the picture was made during a performance in Griffin’s home town of Kansas City, which allows for the autobiographical parts of his set to be amplified by inserts introducing his family members and wistful visits to his old haunts. None of the added footage is very amusing, though, and the effort to juice the picture up by constantly returning to one uncle’s apparent fixation on pornography grows positively unpleasant by the close. George Gallo’s direction is too busy by half; the whirling camera work and constant cutting undermines Griffin’s rhythm instead of helping it build.
“Dysfunktional Family” doesn’t begin to match the classic stand-up films. Maybe a few years down the line Griffin can give it another shot.