By Wilson Morales
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, the film features a host of veteran actors (Meagan Good, Stacey Dash, Tatyana Ali, Essence Atkins, Hosea Sanchez, Wesley Jonathan, Jason Weaver, Reagan Gomez, Persia White) and newcomers (Vanessa Simmons, former model Datari Turner, former pro wrestler Stacy Keibler, record producer Rodney Jerkins, Christian Keys), including former NFL football player Terrell Owens, who are hoping to jumpstart new careers.
Filled with humorous scenes, along with some tender moments, ‘Friends’ should attract an audience looking to have 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 (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 the weekend in his house, getting to know one another again. No one gets a payment if anyone leaves.
Though no one wants to admit it, things are easier said than done. Aron (Turner) is still pining over his ex-girlfriend, Lisa (Dash), who’s dating Jackson (Owens), an NBA player who’s been traded around the league numerous times and is looking to finally settle down. Gary (Weaver) is a porn film director hoping to make a real film from a script of B-actress-turned-screenwriter Trenyce (White). Jamal (Sanchez) can use the money since his music career took a nosedive when he let Gary film his last video. Brett (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 (Simmons) to the occasion instead of his wife (Ali). Meanwhile, Ebony (Gomez), Stylz (Keyes), and Storm (Keibler) all have issues that neither 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, ‘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 writer-director Grant was able to weave in some comedy and drama at various points without letting it get long-winded.
Having sitcom veterans such as Weaver, Ali, Atkins, White, and Gomez comes in handy when the comedic moments are introduced, especially Gomez, who steals most of her scenes from her co-stars. Keyes, who’s been seen on 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, Turner and Keibler have the potential to land key parts in major projects. Owens 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.