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Undercover Brother

movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Undercover Brother

Starring: Eddie Griffin, Denise Richards
Director: Malcolm D. Lee
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 88 Minutes
Release Date: May 2002
Genres: Action, Comedy

*Also starring: Dave Chappelle, Chris Kattan, Aunjanue Ellis, Neil Patrick Harris, Billy Dee Williams, James Brown, Chi McBride

Review by Steve Rhodes
3 stars out of 4

Why wait another two months for GOLDMEMBER, when you can see an Austin Powers film now? Although UNDERCOVER BROTHER, the second film by director Spike Lee's cousin Malcolm D. Lee, doesn't actually have Mike Myers, it does have a hilarious Eddie Griffin as Anton Jackson, a.k.a. Undercover Brother. Undercover Brother is a blend of Austin Powers, James Bond, Napoleon Solo, Shaft and even a little touch of Maxwell Smart.

A takeoff on the 1970's blaxploitation comedies, the story, which is set firmly in the twenty-first century, has the good sense to never take itself seriously, even for a moment. The plot concerns a battle between a nefarious white organization called Multinational, Inc, led by a mysterious and evil person known only as "The Man" and a band of good black guys called the B.R.O.T.H.E.R.H.O.O.D., who fight for "truth, justice and the Afro-American way."

The Man says things to inflame like, "I want the White House to stay white." Undercover Brother, on the other hand, keeps his lingo to simple clichés like "Solid," "Right on!" and "I can dig it." Among Undercover Brother's many gadgets are elevator shoes that really live up to their name. He also has a watch with a secret compartment that can make "Caucasian food" palatable by shooting hot sauce on it.

The strong supporting cast includes Billy Dee Williams as a brainwashed general who gives up his presidential ambitions to found a chicken chain. Yes, the general's chicken. Must be one rank better.

Denise Richards plays Penelope Snow, a.k.a. White She Devil. In her best performance since STARSHIP TROOPERS, Richards, who has enough blonde hair for a dozen mops, camps it up so well that you'll be hoping that she'll get a part in the next CHARLIE'S ANGELS film. She plays a secret weapon, the sexy white woman who is "black men's kryptonite." Snow doesn't win the hair race. Undercover Brother has an Afro that looks like an exploding bush.

Richard's female costar is Chris Kattan. I know this because the movie's poster features Undercover Brother and his two, sexy female companions. Under their picture and above the title, it clearly lists only three names: Eddie Griffin, Chris Kattan and Denise Richards. Although you may think that Kattan has never looked so good, the other female lead is actually Aunjanue Ellis, who plays Sistah Girl. Kattan (CORKY ROMANO) does manage not to sink the show, something that I feared going into it. Among other members of the cast is a funny Neil Patrick Harris ("Doogie Howser, M.D."), who plays the token white in the all-black B.R.O.T.H.E.R.H.O.O.D.

UNDERCOVER BROTHER can be the answer to one of those movie trivia games. If you're ever asked to name an anti-mayo movie, remember that UNDERCOVER BROTHER is a correct answer, perhaps the only correct answer. (Snow tortures Jackson by forcing him to eat a big glob of that quintessential white food item -- mayonnaise.) And, if you're asked to name a movie that is both silly and fun, UNDERCOVER BROTHER is a good reply.

UNDERCOVER BROTHER runs a fast 1:19. It is rated PG-13 for "language, sexual humor, drug content and campy violence" and would be acceptable for kids around 12 and up.

Copyright © 2002 Steve Rhodes

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