Dysfunktional Family

on April 04, 2003 by Annlee Ellingson
Part stand-up comedy routine, part family reunion, this documentary finds funnyman Eddie Griffin ("Undercover Brother) returning to his hometown of Kansas City, Mo., for a show, where he visits with his relatives, talks to people on the street and waxes comedic on topics as wide-ranging as the post-September 11 solidarity among the races, the drug habits of America's founding fathers and Beethoven, oral sex and his two cats. The guy is knee-slappingly funny, if at times blush-inducingly racy.

Much of Griffin's humor derives from his family, and the film juxtaposes his bits about the Griffin clan alongside interviews with the actual people involved: his mom, who's not ashamed that she disciplined him with a switch; his Uncle Curtis, a rotund man in denim overalls who fancies himself a porno star; and his Uncle Bucky, a former thief, hustler and pimp who, Griffin claims, is the only one who ever believed in him. (Bucky counters that he never really thought the boy would ever make anything of himself.) Frankly, the film could use more of this.

Also immensely funny and underused are Griffin's man-on-the-street interviews, especially the conversation that opens and closes the film in which Griffin informs a stranger that he's filming a documentary on this, his first day out of the pen. Starring Eddie Griffin. Directed by George Gallo. Written by Eddie Griffin. Produced by Eddie Griffin, David Permut and Paul Brooks. A Miramax release. Documentary. Rated R for strong sexual content, language and drug-related humor. Running time: 84 min

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