Undercover Brother (2002) / Comedy-Action
MPAA Rated: PG-13 for language, sexual humor, drug content and campy violence
Running Time: 86 min.
Cast: Eddie Griffin, Chris Kattan, Denise Richards, David Chappelle, Aunjanue Ellis
Director: Malcolm D. Lee
Screenplay: John Ridley, Michael McCullers
Review published June 5, 2002
Eddie Griffin (The New Guy, John Q) plays Anton Jackson, who uses his alter ego, Undercover Brother, to promote the cause of the Black man, sporting his impressive afro and typical 70s garb. Soon his plight causes him to merge with an organization known as the BROTHERHOOD, also promoters for the Black cause and the nemesis of The Man, mastermind of pro-White causes. Undercover Brother's mission is to find out what's causing the leading presidential candidate, who is also Black, to sell fried chicken and sell out to Whitey.
Undercover Brother is an energetic and ambitious comedy based on a series of internet short films by John Ridley (U Turn, Red Tails), who also co-wrote the screenplay for the movie. Viewers may find parallels to Mike Myers' homage to the British 60s spy, Austin Powers, and I presume this will find the same type of audience. However, unlike Austin, Undercover Brother delivers much of its laughs without the need to stoop to potty humor and graphic sexual perversity, concentrating mostly on laughing at stereotypes and blaxploitation flicks with a sense of fun and flair.
Eddie Griffin makes an impressive performance as the lead, with a supporting cast that for the most part is likeable as well. If there is any main detraction to the film, it's the casting of a very unfunny Chris Kattan's (Corky Romano, Monkeybone) righthand-man Mr. Feather, and whenever he is onscreen the laughs come to a screeching halt.
Luckily for us those appearances are few, allowing us to laugh at the zany antics and nod to the ultra-cool music amid the hit-and-miss comedy. At only 86 minutes, it doesn't overstay it's welcome, and if you're in the mood for comedy, Undercover Brother gets a marginal recommendation for sheer energy, fun and a few belly laughs.
©2002 Vince Leo