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Overall Rating

Awesome: 20.34%
Worth A Look45.76%
Average: 20.34%
Pretty Bad: 6.78%
Total Crap: 6.78%

4 reviews, 35 user ratings

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Undercover Brother
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by Robert Collins

"Smart Brother, Indeed"
4 stars

In the same vein as Michael Myers' Austin Powers, Undercover Brother is an obvious caricature of past pop culture, with the focus on 70's black culture instead of 60's hippie society. When we first see him-- an enormously funny Eddie Griffin dressed head to toe in leather with platform shoes and an intimidating Afro hairstyle, smoothly directing an out-of-control spinning gold Cadillac with unimpressed eyes while not spilling a drop of the orange smoothie sitting in his hand-- we know he is cooler than cool-- cooler than Myers' incessantly obnoxious protagonist, at least. Sometimes nothing is funnier than exaggerated, absurdly extreme stereotypes. Even better is the fact that most of Undercover Brother does not have Myers' unfortunate appetite for dick jokes, the only exception being the infrequent "black fuzzy balls" joke. (You'll see.)

Luckily, like Austin Powers, Undercover Brother relies on a lot more than a stylish-looking protagonist. There's something to be said for a movie whose jokes and gags are aimed towards both sides of the racial and political spectrum evenly, skewering both the white and black cultures, both the liberals and conservatives with equal cunning. Take the scene in which a well-meaning (white) anchorperson talks about how a potential black presidential candidate is doing well in the polls "not just in the urban areas!" And when a supremacist gets down with his funky self to Mary J. Blige, much to his chagrin, it proves that even the most conservative of people are enticed by the opposite culture. A number of the jokes are scathing and perhaps even occasionally personal, but none of them are ever mean-spirited.

The entire movie runs on a simplistic premise: A secret organization, run by "The Man," has been undermining the black culture for decades implicating methods so incredibly funny that to mention them would be depriving you of a multitude of laughs. His latest scheme involves having The Man's lead lackey, Mr. Feather (Chris Kattan of "SNL" fame, restrained for Chris Kattan in a not only watchable, but entertaining, turn), brainwash the aforementioned politico (Billy Dee Williams), the first credible presidential nominee of his race, to drop from the election and start a fried chicken franchise. Fortunately, another organization called the B.R.O.T.H.E.R.H.O.O.D., led by the appropriately named Chief (Chi McBride), opposes "The Man" and finds Undercover Brother to enlist in his aid. With the assistance of Sistah Girl (Aunjanue Ellis), Smart Brother (Gary Anothony Williams), and Conspiracy Brother (Dave Chapelle, in a show-stealing role), he must stop The Man's diabolical plan.

Undercover Brother is abnormally observant for a comedy, and its celebration of the racial divide is probably its best feature. It takes note of even the tiniest differences; from the black distaste for mayonnaise and reluctance to admit O.J.'s guilt, to the white love of NASCAR and embracing of crappy pop music. And everything gets magnified during a stint in which UB falls under the spell of White She-Devil (the eternally ditzy Denise Richards), during which he dances uncoordinatedly to the approval of the white audience at a karaoke bar and proclaims to prefer Michael Bolton's version of Sisqo's "Thong Song." I can't help but remember Neil Patrick Harris's intern raise his fist just before telling the temporarily misguided Undercover Brother to "Represent." All of which arrives at the conclusion that men of all races can come together to watch women frenziedly tear clothes off each other.

Undercover Brother is deceptively intelligent, knowing and unbiased in its observations, and truly hilarious throughout most of its ninety minute running time. Cunning in its racial commentary and clever in its blaxploitation parodies, it only loses its footing momentarily when it loses sight of its goals during fleeting moments free of sociopolitical analysis. The only truly dreadful thing about this movie are the Austin Powers-esque catch phrases (a la "Yeah, baby, yeah!") it threatens to spew out that will undoubtedly grow old within a week of hearing them.


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originally posted: 06/13/02 18:10:43
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User Comments

12/07/08 Lenny Zane Poor Denise Richards, so overly trashed for TheWorldIsNotEnough, gets good roles no more. 2 stars
10/20/08 Shaun Wallner Hilarious Movie! 5 stars
5/29/08 MDH-Matt Tsk, tsk. More than a parody as an intelligent & funny satire. Holds up better now than AP 5 stars
6/19/06 jason the best 5 stars
7/18/05 BoyInTheDesignerBubble Intelligent and funny. Won't see the likes of again. 5 stars
6/15/05 DM Amusing at points but forgettable and extremely lightweight. 3 stars
12/01/04 da hood' this film deomnstartes the racist double standard in todays society.....niggers. 1 stars
11/16/03 Samuel A pretty funny movie!! 3 stars
5/29/03 John Aster Habig Michael McCuller's best script the best cast Griffin, Chappelle, Richards 5 stars
2/13/03 Maegs Underrated send up on Blaxploitation 4 stars
2/07/03 since when did black or white cultures involve kung fu? still funny. 5 stars
1/30/03 natasha_theobald smart-funny, with well-earned laughs 4 stars
1/19/03 bob funny as all get out 4 stars
8/30/02 Candace Troy Powers Clashing combination of slapstick and militant dogma 2 stars
8/16/02 scott a great film 5 stars
6/30/02 Jim Doo-gie! Doo-gie! Climactic fight to "Beat It" nearly gave me a heart attack. 4 stars
6/29/02 Zaw fun filled movie 5 stars
6/29/02 Steve Crawford 1 stars
6/25/02 Jiz Who cares about the racial shit, this movie kicked ass! 5 stars
6/15/02 MyztiQ "solid" 4 stars
6/13/02 Film Dude Hey, this isn't Taco Bell... 4 stars
6/13/02 Film Guy It had some funny moments but it kinda never picked up. i did laugh out loud though 3 stars
6/11/02 Janine Lay pretty funny but I am racially open to this stuff 4 stars
6/10/02 The Bomb 69 I laughed a lot, nuff said!!! 5 stars
6/08/02 Jake Mediocre at best. Not a whole lot to laugh at and I was drunk. 3 stars
6/07/02 Joe Levy Oh sure if you are black and are Jessie Jackson then you will like this ludicrous movie!!!! 1 stars
6/05/02 Butterbean FINALLY, Somebody who saw the movie and UNDERSTOOD IT! Great review, Mr. Snider! 4 stars
6/05/02 masin wolliams Where is Rudy Ray and D'urville when you need them? 3 stars
6/04/02 Todd Not a total lump of shit. Had a few funny parts 2 stars
6/03/02 Nick2k not bad. kinda got carried away from reality though. imminent sequel foh sho'. 3 stars
6/02/02 y0rt If your black, your gonna love it. In other words, childesh and rasist. 1 stars
6/02/02 MyztiQ definately 2 funny....lotsa excellent 1-liners 5 stars
6/01/02 Dr Laura Is A Bitch (Doo dah, doo dah...) Lots of great movie moments. Some of the jokes fell flat. Awesome premise. 4 stars
6/01/02 Butterbean I am ready for the sequel! 5 stars
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  31-May-2002 (PG-13)



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