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Undercover Brother (2002)
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Review Date: May 31, 2002
Director: Malcolm D. Lee
Writer: John Ridley, Michael McClullers
Producers: Brian Grazer, Damon Lee, Michael Jenkinson
Actors:
Eddie Griffin
Chris Kattan
Denise Richards
Plot:
When "The Man" tries to derail the upcoming presidential campaign of a formidable African-American candidate, the black underground society, also known as B.R.O.T.H.E.R.H.O.O.D., recruits a crime-fighting brother (who digs the undercover) to investigate. Comedy ensues.
Critique:
A hilarious concept, many funny gags and spoofs, a range of colorful characters including our cool lead brother and a fast and furious pace, make this film one of the most enjoyable comedies of the year. Imagine AUSTIN POWERS running into ZOOLANDER at a Black Panthers meeting...and strap yourself in for a fun ride (unless of course, you didn't enjoy those two flicks, in which case-this likely ain't your thang!) Much like those films, this one doesn't take itself too seriously, so the idea is that the audience should also play along (shut your mouth!). The film has a blast with blaxploitation movies, the kung-fu genre, pretty much every black and white stereotype, bad guys and sexy babes. It's not the most consistently funny movie as a whole, in fact, I thought the second half wasn't as solid as its first 45 minutes, but overall, I really dug the premise of these black and white underworlds, cracked up every time Billy Dee Williams mentioned his scrumptious fried chicken and especially loved "Conspiracy Brother" played brilliantly by Dave Chapelle with pokes at every conceivable "white man" theory that you've ever heard (or not heard). Also, being as the film is entirely race-based, I thought the idea of mixing the white and black cultures was also very well handled, tastefully mixed (under the circumstances) and with a nice overall message for the audience (not that this is a "message" movie or anything).

Eddie Griffin was also "on" as the Undercover Brother himself, and I absolutely adored his 'fro, his super-slick duds and his kung-fu kicks. He did seem to "disappear" to a certain extent during the film's latter act, with Chappelle's character seemingly picking up more of the laughs, but overall, the man delivered plenty of humor and kicked loads of the white man bootie! The film also sports some decent special effects and gadgets, exciting fight scenes, a very cool opening sequence, precious odes to the 70s style of movie-making (stay tuned during the end credits for an homage to 1976's CAR WASH) and Denise Richards, looking her usual "hot" self. Overall, there were definitely more jokes that worked than didn't, but some of the bigger concept gags which didn't click for me included Chris Kattan's "bad guy" character, who I didn't think was humorous, and James Brown, who in my opinion, has been "played out" in movies already. But in the end, the one-liners, the clever insights, the racial exaggerations all made for a fun time at the theatre and the uniqueness of the project, as well as its lack of "gross out" jokes, made for a fresh change from the static crap that we've been getting so far this year. So if you're a fan of the 70s, love that funky music (the soundtrack is slammin'), don't mind a good time at everyone's expense and want to forget about the horrors of your real world for a quick hour and a half, step inside this comedic Cadillac, with high style directing, very little seriousness and plenty of entertainment value. Or to describe it all in one word: solid!
(c) 2016 Berge Garabedian
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