Undercover Brother: As Tired as the Era It Spoofs
- Holly McClure Movie Reviewer
- 2002 31 May
Undercover Brother - PG-13
Best for: Mature teens to adults
The plot: Undercover Brother (Eddie Griffin) is a private detective recruited by a crime fighting organization called the B.R.O.T.H.E.R.H.O.O.D., a secret organization whose purpose is to preserve the black cultural identity and stand against another secret society trying to halt the African American way of life. The head chief of the B.R.O.T.H.E.R.H.O.O.D (Chi McBride), along with Smart Brother (Gary Anthony Williams) and Conspiracy Brother (scene-stealer Dave Chappelle), commission Undercover Brother to investigate and stop The MAN from using a black general (Billy Dee Williams) to brainwash America. Sistah Girl (Aunjanue Ellis) is a field agent who agrees to take the case with Undercover Brother and battle Mr. Feather (Chris Kattan) and his accomplice, Penelope Snow (Denise Richards), to save America.
The good: This is a black version of Austin Powers, a throwback to the black exploitation movies of the '70s. Griffin isn't one of my favorite actors (he's usually annoying), but he does a good job at playing the spy and embodying the black spirit from those earlier movies. His quick jokes, facial expressions, afro, atrocious clothes and numerous disguises make the character work.
I was surprised and sort of shocked to see a serious actor like Billy Dee Williams take on the role of a brainwashed general, but it's Dave Chappelle who really shines in this movie and manages to bring in most of the laughs. Chris Kattan has a smaller part that isn't so much funny as campy, with his mannerisms and goofy looks (the final fight between the two is a riot). Neil Patrick Harris plays the perfect "white guy" stereotype, while Denise Richards is the sexy white heroine who manages to get a few laughs but is mostly there for her figure. A couple of scenes and a few characters are amusing (annoying Caucasian newscasters, Griffin and Richards singing Ebony and Ivory in karaoke, a fight staged to the tune of Michael Jackson's Beat It), but the movie still has major flaws.
The bad: The script is filled with lots of clichés, stereotypes and jokes about the black man against the white man. Some are just plain silly and some hypocritical. The movie is filled with every racial stereotype imaginable, but the movie equally makes fun of whites and blacks, Republicans and Democrats, and everything else connected with the two races.
Offensive language: Lots of it.
Sexual situations: Mostly suggestive shots of Richards in revealing clothing.
Violence: Campy spy violence, but a few characters are killed in scenes that made audience members laugh.
Parental guidance: This film has language, sexual humor, drug content and campy violence, so it's not for your older kids or young teens. Even though it looks silly, the humor is such a throwback to the '70s I'm not sure young teenagers, much less the older ones, will get the humor.
It's a wrap: If you liked Austin Powers, you'll probably enjoy this black imitation version. I normally find Eddie Griffin annoying, loud and obnoxious, but fortunately for him, that's exactly what this character calls for. I've read other critics' comments about how they found this movie hilarious, smart and funny, but I just don't get it. I hardly laughed through the entire movie. Save your money on this one! There are too many other good movies to see right now.