A blast from the past...
Written: Jun 20, 2002 (Updated Jun 20, 2002)
a Very Helpful Review
by the Epinions community
Pros:Great acting by *most;* wonderful comedic style, funny movie overall.
Cons:Denise Richards can't act, but she's easy on the eyes.
The Bottom Line: Good acting, technical execution, and scriptwriting come together in a rare combination to create a really wonderful end product.
Those of us who are old enough remember the blaxplotation movies of the 1970's vividly. Unfortunately, most of the viewers of Undercover Brother are too young to have seen them - so you're in the same boat that I am. However, that's a reality that we deal with, but it doesn't change the fact that this is the best comedy I have seen in a long, long time.
What Undercover Brother does with satire is something any movie seeking to be a parody or spoof should take careful note of. They found the right balance between ridiculousness and offensive jokes and struck it carefully with a plotline that while ridiculous, is also somewhat plausible, and is not an amalgamation of fourteen different movies (read: Scary Movie 2). That's what makes this movie so amazing, in that as a spoof it succeeds, but it also succeeds on another level entirely, as a comedy force unto itself.
The basic plotline is set against the battle between the B.R.O.T.H.E.R.H.O.O.D. and The Man. The former is a group of Afro-Americans dedicated to preserving black culture and promoting justice and equality, while the latter is the evil force holding black Americans back from achieving true equality. In their fight against The Man, B.R.O.T.H.E.R.H.O.O.D members Sistah Girl (Aunjanue Ellis), Smart Brother (Gary Anthony Williams), Conspiracy Brother (David Chappelle), The Chief (Boston Public star Chi McBride) and affirmative action hire Lance (Neil Patrick Harris) come across Undercover Brother (Eddie Griffin) battling The Man in his own way. The organization puts him to work when a Colin Powell clone, General Boutwell, is expected to announce his presidential campaign. The Man, led by his chief henchman Mr. Feather (SNL regular Chris Kattan) sets out to derail the campaign, and hilarity ensues.
Now, it would be easy for a movie like this to be derailed by race jokes, and certainly, the movie has its share, from making fun of Lance (hired due to an affirmative action program) to the Caucasiavision (a device capable of transmitting the whole of white culture to one person). But there are also jokes that are funny because they allude to a joke that hasn't been made, from mocking parachute pants to The Chief muttering "I'm getting too old for this ****," while a picture of Danny Glover is in full view of the camera. The excellent scriptwriting aside (kudos to John Ridley), all of the actors deliver, except for Denise Richards. Really.
Her performance seems forced at best, and not at all authentic. It is the performance you'd expect in Scary Movie 2. That, in a nutshell, is what sets Undercover Brother apart from so many failed spoofs: this one had excellent actors and actresses who all delivered when required. Okay, one bad apple in Denise Richards, but as previously mentioned, all is forgiven - she is easy on the eyes.
Aside from that, the editing and sound, and music choices are all phenomenal, as well as the seventies references, from big Cadillacs, to the 7-11 Big Gulp, to an 8-track weapon on Undercover Brother's car. It's enough to give one an altogether satirical look at the symbols of the seventies, and for those among us who lived it, I'm sure they are watching this movie and chuckling heartily.
An incredible success for a comedy - even the Chicago Tribune gave this three stars, and after years of watching their reviews, I concluded long ago that they hate comedies. However, this movie is very difficult to dislike. Undercover Brother delivers on all fronts, and delivers Denise Richards. Her acting was better in The World is Not Enough despite the awful name, so see that if you're a Richards fan.
Other than that minor flaw, this is an excellent final product that should be enjoyed by almost anyone. Be warned, though, that some of the humor is graphic and there is violence - this movie is not for the easily offended, but for the person who is able to see a little truth in every joke.
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