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Undercover Brother (2002) – Movie Review

Undercover Brother

Directed by Malcolm D. Lee
Written by Michael McClullers & John Ridley, based on a story and a character created by Ridley
Starring Eddie Griffin, Aunjanue Ellis, Chris Kattan, Denise Richards, Billy Dee Williams

My Advice: Don’t Miss It.

Undercover Brother (Griffin) is a solo agent in the fight to free the Afro-American people from the influence of The Man, the shadowy bastion of All Things White. Undercover Brother’s been fighting alone up until now, but there’s a threat on the horizon that will cause U.B. to team up with the BROTHERHOOD, a secret organization of black people dedicated to the overthrow of The Man. There’s a certain general (Williams) who’s so popular that he might wind up being President of the United States. And a black man in the White House is too much for The Man to stand. So he’s asked his number one flunky, Mr. Feather (Kattan), to spearhead the utter destruction of black culture. U.B. will need all of his soul to pull this one off.

It’s so refreshing to see a comedy that’s actually funny. I laughed so hard I was hurting afterwards. In fact, I demand a sequel. It’s simplistic to do the high level exec pitch and say it’s “the blaxploitation version of Austin Powers,” but like the Myers flick, Brother takes stupid and ridiculous to such a level that it goes back around to become brilliant. And you can’t help but laugh.

Griffin is well…solid…as the title character, performing the jokes and the action with equal skill. Aunjanue Ellis brings the appropriate amount of attitude to a character called “Sistah Girl.” The rest of the BROTHERHOOD is superbly cast, especially David Chapelle as “Conspiracy Brother” and Gary Anthony Williams as “Smart Brother,” the film’s version of James Bond‘s Q. Chris Kattan is too damn silly to be believed, and amazingly enough, is a capable villain when all is said and done, despite the utter lunacy of what’s happening around him. I must admit, though, that the two most brilliant spots of casting were for Denise Richards and Neil Patrick Harris. Harris playing a white intern in an all-black secret organization because of affirmative action is ridiculously apt. And Richards–who probably made the smartest career choice in her life by taking this role–gets to play not only to type (i.e. incredibly good looking bimbo) but beyond type into caricature. Granted, that’s a caricature in a white leather/vinyl combat suit, but hey, no one here is complaining.

And what’s great is that there’s something for everybody. No one is safe from the comical bludgeoning of the film. Stereotypes both black and white are on the chopping block and only a total P.C. whackjob would get offended. Oh, and the soundtrack kicks much ass as well. Definitely recommended, since so many comedies these days don’t know how to deliver on ninety minutes of fun. Ah, we live for these exceptions.

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