Producer David Permut caught lightning in a bottle back in 1979 with his film "Richard Pryor -- Live in Concert," and he hopes lightning will strike a second time with "DysFunKtional Family," which stars African American stand-up comic Eddie Griffin.
Made for $1 million, the Pryor movie grossed more than $30 million domestically and influenced the way comedians would be presented on the big screen for years to come. Also a concert film, "DysFunKtional Family" opens Friday. Griffin has appeared in a handful of other movies, most recently the hilarious, underappreciated "Undercover Brother."
"What I love about this film is it's truly original," Permut said. "Richard Pryor talked about his family on stage, but we actually meet Eddie's along the way."
And what a family. There's Uncle Bucky, who raised Griffin and spent more time in the Big House than in Eddie's house; Uncle Curtis, who introduced Griffin to film, whether it was classic westerns or classic pornography; and Griffin's mother, whose disciplinary consequences for bad behavior became legendary.
Rated R for strong sexual content, language and drug-related humor, the film was shot over a 60-hour period in Griffin's hometown of Kansas City (or "KC-Mo," as Eddie calls it), with two nights of concerts filmed before a crowd of 3,500 in Chicago.
"What I love about the movie is it tells the story of a kid who made it out of Kansas City's ghetto," Permut said. "His father figure is Uncle Bucky, a pimp who always encouraged Eddie to go with his goals and go to Hollywood and be a star. It represents the American dream and embodies who Eddie is."
-- Robert W. Welkos