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Undercover Brother

In Undercover Brother, an organization recruits a top spy, a '70s-style cool cat, to uncover a plot to brainwash the nation's first black presidential candidate.


Undercover Brother revolves around the B.R.O.T.H.E.R.H.O.O.D., an organization that believes in the virtues of truth, justice and the African-American way; that is, bringing back the funky vibe of the '70s. Their headquarters is headed by a burly guy referred to as The Chief (Chi McBride), whose main objective is to bring down The Man, the one responsible for keeping the White House white, by turning the nation's first black Colin Powell-type presidential candidate into a fried chicken spokesman. To do so, the B.R.O.T.H.E.R.H.O.O.D. enlists the help of Undercover Brother (Eddie Griffin), a cool cat who, doubling as the mild-mannered Anton Jackson, infiltrates a multinational conglomerate. Attempting to thwart their efforts are the enemies Mr. Feather (Chris Kattan) and the sultry White She Devil (Denise Richards). Undercover Brother is a feature movie based an animated Web series by the wittingly poetic John Ridley. The result is an outlandish spoof of 1970s blaxploitation films like Foxy Brown and Superfly, complete with characters like Sistah Girl, Conspiracy Brother and Smart Brother--the B.R.O.T.H.E.R.H.O.O.D.'s equivalent to James Bond's M.


The film's casting stayed fairly true to the Internet featurette upon which it's based, including Eddie Griffin (The New Guy) who fills U.B.'s shoes fittingly well: He's surprisingly suave, a little arrogant and utterly hilarious. Aunjanue Ellis (The Caveman's Valentine) plays his partner Sistah Girl and definitely has some really great lines in the film, especially when it comes to insulting U.B. Chris Kattan (Corky Romano) is The Man's right-hand guy who is in a perpetual state of indecision about his own whiteness. Although his physical antics are amusing, his character is too cartoonish and hard to relate to. As the evil temptress White She Devil, Denise Richards (Valentine) looks as though she's having a great time, especially when she's singing ''Ebony and Ivory'' at a karaoke bar with U.B.: she literally looks like she is about to crack up. However, it's Dave Chappelle's (Screwed) character Conspiracy Brother that's the funniest by far. Always convinced there is a hidden meaning in everything, he liberally peppers his dialogue with such phrases as ''so-called,'' ''aka,'' and ''quote-unquote.''


Ridley is no stranger to comedy. He has performed stand-up on the David Letterman Show, written for TV shows like Martin and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and written several novels, including Stray Dogs, on which Oliver Stone's U-Turn was based. Suffice it to say, Undercover Brother is big on laughs, and takes jabs at everything and everyone, including affirmative action, O.J. Simpson and interracial relationships, offending across the board without ever resorting to gross-out vulgar humor. Directed by Malcolm D. Lee (The Best Man), the film has a gut-busting final showdown scene done in Enter the Dragon style, where Mr. Feather cuts a wedge out of U.B.'s afro, sending him into a frenzy--all to the tune of ''Beat It.'' The movie is also packed with funny and imaginative gimmicks throughout, like using plastic afro picks as weapons, or carrying ''afro shine'' in case of a high-speed car chase. This comedy proves that any spoof done well can reinvent a tired genre.

Bottom Line

Undercover Brother is a hilarious spoof of '70s blaxploitation movies, an Austin Powers meets James Bond, with a talented cast that makes already funny material even better. Although there are a couple of drug references, the film is surprisingly clean in dialogue and thoroughly enjoyable.