Undercover Brother (2002)
“He’s All Action”
Director: Malcolm D. Lee
Cast: Eddie Griffin, Denise Richards, Aunjanue Ellis
Synopsis: When “The Man” tries to derail a black candidate’s presidential campaign, Undercover Brother and his fellow secret agents come to the rescue.
As spoof movies go, Undercover Brother is pretty good. Usually with these kind of films you have to wade through a dozen lame jokes to find one that raises a laugh, but here the hits are just about on a level pegging with the misses. And when the gags aren’t working there’s always the delicious Denise Richards and Aunjanue Ellis to gaze upon…
Writer John Ridley pokes fun at both black and white stereotypes here in a spoof of both 70s blaxploitation flicks and Austin Powers style super agent comedies and he manages to establish a decent pace throughout. Too often, films like these load all their best gags into the first couple of reels, but in Undercover Brother there are still laughs to be had in the final one. The humour ranges from near-slapstick to clever wordplay and the cast enter into the spirit of the thing with an appealing exuberance and, thanks to the quality of the script, are spared the indignity of having to desperately mug and strain for laughs.
John Ridley’s body of work ranges from the light comedy of Fresh Prince of Bel-Air to the action spectacle of Three Kings and the noir style of the novel upon which Oliver Stone’s U-Turn was based, and he’s showing no signs yet of spreading himself thin. While the direction from Malcolm D. Lee lacks flair on occasion, he does an acceptable job. Amongst the cast, Chris Kattan stands out as the villainous Mr. Feather, as does Dave Chapelle as Conspiracy Brother. Denise Richards looks hotter than hot as the kind of white girl every black man apparently dreams of bedding, while Aunjanue Ellis as Sistah Girl spars well with Eddie Griffin in the title role.
Perhaps the only thing working against the film is its continual pop culture references which are bound to soon leave it looking as outdated as the 70s flicks it spoofs. A lot of the jokes, though, will always be funny…