Undercover Brother
2 out of 5 stars
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E
he's all action This wacky spoof pokes fun at both 1970s blaxploitation movies and the spy-caper genre in general. With mixed results. Undercover Brother (Griffin), UB for short, is a activist in present day L.A., trying to keep alive funky '70s values in a corporate cutthroat society, driving around in his vintage Cadillac convertible with his mammoth afro blowing in the wind. Then he's drafted by the top secret Brotherhood spy agency to help in their continued battle against The Man, who's determined to destroy the black way of life. UB's new fellow agents include the foxy Sistah Girl (Ellis), a conspiracy-obsessed brother (Chappelle), a smart Q type genius (Gary Anthony Williams), the gruff and always shouting Chief (McBride) and their white-boy intern (Harris). But as he battles with The Man's henchman Feather (Kattan), UB is unprepared for the ultimate secret weapon, Penelope Snow (Richards), aka 'the black man's Kryptonite.'

Yes, it's very, very silly, and most of the film is so stupid that it's actually painful to watch. But just when you start to worry about your sanity, a moment of absolute genius flits across the screen--a throwaway line, a witty sight gag, an astute bit of satire, another inspired piece of music. These things are so smart and snappy that it makes you wonder why the rest of the film feels like mush, held together with a plot so lame that even the Zucker brothers would have passed on it. The cast is fine--physical and energetic, with perfect timing ... although some of the actors play it much hammier than others (Griffin is the prime offender here). The film works best when it's playing with stereotypes, poking fun at pop culture icons or hilariously highlighting prejudices. But when it resorts to broad and zany comedy, it falls flat.

cert 12 themes, language, innuendo, violence 17.Dec.02

dir Malcolm D Lee
scr John Ridley, Michael McCullers
with Eddie Griffin, Denise Richards, Chris Kattan, Aunjanue Ellis, Dave Chappelle, Gary Anthony Williams, Chi McBride, Neil Patrick Harris, Jack Noseworthy, Robert Trumbull, Billy Dee Williams, James Brown
release US 31.May.02; UK Feb.03
Universal
02/US 1h26

Mod squad. Penelope, Sistah Girl and Undercover Brother seem to be having a bad hair decade (Richards, Ellis, Griffin).

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2002 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall

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