|cast: Eddie Griffin, Chris Kattan, Denise Richards, Aunjaune Ellis, and Dave Chappelle
director: Malcolm D. Lee
85 minutes (12) 2002
Ever since the emergence of black power in 1950s’ America, secretive supervillain The Man has been struggling to reverse the tide. Fighting against him are the Brotherhood, a highly organised ring of secret agents, and vigilante master of disguise Undercover Brother, an afro’ed 1970s’ throwback whom the ladies can’t resist. When the first black contender for the US presidency suddenly turns down the nomination in order to open a fried chicken chain, the Brotherhood and Undercover Brother must join together to prevent the mass hypnosis of black Americans – but are they ready to face The Man’s secret weapon, the White She-Devil?
Playing like a politicised Austin Powers, with the smut replaced by homages to Shaft and Enter The Dragon, Undercover Brother is a surprisingly funny movie. Yes, the dialogue scenes lurch awkwardly from joke to joke, and it’s based entirely on stereotypes. But with characters ranging from Conspiracy Brother and his wild theories (“Shakespeare? Black man.”), to the white office boy foisted onto the Brotherhood by affirmative action legislation, there’s rarely a dull moment. And who can resist chuckling at a high-speed chase conducted in golf carts? Not me…
Eddie Griffin has lots of fun as our ultra-cool hero, dividing his attentions between sassy secret agent Sistah Girl (Aunjanue Ellis) and sultry temptress the White She-Devil (Denise Richards, well cast for once). Dave Chappelle’s paranoid Conspiracy Brother steals most of the laughs, but leaves a few for Chris Kattan, who delivers a deliciously OTT performance as evil henchman Mr Feather, a white supremacist with an unfortunate weakness for black music…
Blacks and whites are united against evil in a pleasingly soppy conclusion, true love triumphs, and plenty of room is left for a sequel. Despite some rough edges, Undercover Brother thoroughly deserves one – but maybe Conspiracy Brother is right, and The Man is firmly in control of Hollywood, making sure black characters only appear in order to be eaten by sharks or dismembered by dinosaurs. So track down Undercover Brother while you still can…
If all that isn’t enough, there’s a decent package of DVD extras, including two commentaries, out-takes, an alternate ending, and a slew of deleted scenes, which adds to the amusement.