Undercover Brother :
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Reviewed by Wilson Morales
Within the last few years, there have been a number “black comedies” satirizing different films of different genres. Between “I’m gonna git you sucka”, “Airplane”, the “Naked Gun” films, and the “Austin Powers”films, one would think that there’s nothing left to cover. Well, what if one took a little of those films and made one hell of outrageous film. The answer would be “Undercover Brother”, a mixture of the blaxploitation era and the spy genre added with a comedic twist. In Malcolm D. Lee’s second feature since “The Best Man”, he has brought a film that is extremely funny and presented with a torrent of insightful gags at breakneck pace
Set in modern times, Eddie Griffin stars Undercover Brother, a man of mystery who lives and dresses himself with clothes from the 1970s when “black was all that”. As he cruises the streets in his vintage Cadillac, he looks for ways to outdo and outfox the “The Man”. The Man finds a new way to bring his enemy, black people, Undercover Brother is recruited to join forces with the B.R.O.T.H.E.R.H.O.O.D, another outfit set to go against THE MAN. Working with Sistah Girl (Aunjanue Ellis) to infiltrate the organization, Undercover goes through the rigors of knowing the enemy’s (white people) likes and dislikes. Not even a radical change can fool everyone. When The Man’s top henchman, Mr. Feather (Chris Kattan) gets winds that the B.R.O.T.H.E.R.H.O.O.D are onto him and his plan, he releases his secret weapon. Undercover Brother must use every one of his gadgets, and tactics to foil The Man’s plan to control black people.
Without giving much away in terms of the plot, Lee has successfully managed to make a good spoof of the blaxploitation era. The sets, costumes, and music all serve as secondary characters because their inclusion into certain scenes is essential to make this parody work. From the pork chop sideburns, the Afro, and down to the theme songs of old school films, its timing is important. With the appearance of two legendary figures from that era, the film brings some authenticity. Griffin does a good job of holding his own weight as he carries this picture, but at timeshe is saddled with some corny lines and unfunny expressions. His parody of James Bond and Bruce Lee mixed into his character is very funny, especially when he mocks the famous “head shake” Bruce Lee used to do when fighting. When featured in scenes with the B.R.O.T.H.E.R.H.O.O.D is when he truly shines. The jokes that go back and forth between the comediennes are hilarious. Chappelle is a scene-stealer in his role. He’s captivating as the brother who has a theory for everything wrong with black people. Who knew little Doogie Howser (Harris)had a funny bone in his body. His comic timing is impeccable. He may have a future as a comedian with the right script. Ellis is fine as the partner/love interest. The jokes made about white America takes a ribbing but in a fair way. Every spy film usually has more than one woman, and Richards indeed is a beauty to behold. Her character may start fights amongst couples. This film may not be for everyone’s taste as it pokes fun at the expense of black culture in a lighthearted manner. But if you’re looking a good laugh from start to finish, this is it. Enjoy the fun ride.
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