‘Dysfunctional Friends’ delivers laughs

    When a group of college friends, who haven’t seen each other in years, get together after the sudden death of their schoolmate, relationships, old stories, and secrets are renewed and told in the hilarious new dramedy Dysfunctional Friends.

    Directed by Corey Grant, Dysfunctional Friends features a host of veteran actors and relative newcomers, including former NFL football player Terrell Owens, who are hoping to jumpstart new careers.

    Filled with humorous scenes, along with some tender moments, the film should attract an audience looking to have a good time and enjoy an evening’s entertainment.

    The sudden death of Dennis (Keith Robinson) from a freak skydiving accident reunites his college friends at his funeral to pay their respects. While some are happy to see each other, others can’t wait to board a plane and head back home. When Dennis’ lawyer Veronica Stevens (Meagan Good) informs the group that an inheritance was left for each of them, everyone is left bewildered but intrigued. There’s only one catch. Everyone must spend time together in his house, getting to know one another again. No one gets their cut if anyone leaves.

    Though no one wants to admit it, this is easier said than done. Aron (Datari Turner) is still pining over his ex-girlfriend Lisa (Stacey Dash), who’s dating Jackson (Terrell), an NBA player who’s been traded around the league numerous times and is looking to finally settle down. Gary (Jason Weaver) is a porn director hoping to make a real film from a script by B-actress-turned-screenwriter Trenyce (Persia White).

    Jamal (Hosea Chanchez) can use the money since his music career took a nosedive when he let Gary film his last video. Brett (Wesley Jonathan) is supposed to be the successful one in the group since he owns an advertising agency, but looks can be deceiving, especially when he elects to bring his assistant Hanna (Vanessa Simmons) to the occasion instead of his wife (Tatyana Ali). Meanwhile, Ebony (Reagan Gomez), Stylz (Christian Keyes), and Storm (Stacey Keibler) all have issues that none want to share or discuss.

    In the course of a long weekend, with careers and relationships questioned, emotions are high. Will anyone crack under the stress of being coerced to share stories in order to get a financial reward?

    While comparisons will be made to The Big Chill because part of the plot is similar to the Lawrence Kasdan film, Dysfunctional Friends is different, but also works due to the good chemistry from the ensemble. In many films where the cast is large and backstories are presented for each of the characters, the focus of the story can be diluted at times, but Corey was able to weave in some comedy and drama at various points without letting it get long-winded.

    Having sitcom veterans such as Jason, Tatyana, Essence Atkins and Persia comes in handy when the comedic moments are introduced–especially Reagan, who steals most of her scenes from her co-stars. Christian, who’s been seen in various stage plays, is also hilarious as the model looking for a starring role in anything, whether it’s a commercial, video or magazine.

    As for the newcomers in the film, Datari and Stacey Keibler have the potential to land key parts in major projects. Terrell still has some ways to go, and has to prove to others that he can be an asset in the industry if given the chance.

    The film does have its flaws. There’s one annoying character, and a scene or two that’s a little over the top, but for the most part, it’s a very entertaining movie that deserves to be seen. When there are plenty of Hollywood ensemble films that fail to deliver, here’s an independent film that moves with a lot of laughs.

    Grade: B

     

     

    —Wilson Morales

     

     

     

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