A black Austin Powers - that's the best way to describe Undercover Brother. However, that's not to say it's a rip off, but where Austin Powers spoofs Bond villains and Our Man Flint, Undercover Brother spoofs 1970's cop shows, Shaft and blaxploitation films.
As explained in the beginning of the film, the sixties and seventies was a time of great awakening for the black community, with more rights and freedom than before. Unfortunately since then, the black community has been falling (with examples of Mr T, Denis Rodman in a dress and so on) and this is all the work of The Man who is an shadowy, evil mastermind intent on bringing the black man down.
Eddie Griffin is Undercover Brother - a modern day black man complete with all accessories from the 70's. He's got a gold Cadillac, platform shoes, polyester flares and a HUGE Afro. He's skilled in kung fu (mostly the noises akin to Bruce Lee) and is definitely a ladies man. He's recruited into the B.R.O.T.H.E.R.H.O.O.D organisation, which fights against white prejudices. The organisation was created to combat the influence of The Man.
After being recruited into the B.R.O.T.H.E.R.H.O.O.D, Undercover Brother is trained to 'act alike an uptight white guy' and is sent undercover into a bank, which is a front for The Man's operation. As The Man is never seen, Undercover Brother faces Mr Feather (Chris Kattan) as The Mans right hand. Mr Feather has concocted as scheme to brainwash all influential Black Americans, starting with General Boutwell (Billy Dee Williams). Mr Feather has brainwashed the General into giving up his presidential campaign and instead open a chain of fast food chicken restaurants.
With Undercover Brother hot on his heels, Mr Feather unleashes his secret weapon, The White She-Devil (Denise Richards), who is irresistible to black men and can control them completely through her sexuality.
Can Undercover Brother and the B.R.O.T.H.E.R.H.O.O.D stop Mr Feather before his plans are concluded and every influential black American is under his power? And can Undercover Brother resist the 'Black Mans Kryptonite' The White She-Devil?
Most of the film is very funny and obviously most of the jokes are aimed at stereotypical racial issues. There are a few that are close to the mark, but when you realise that the jokes are played against both side, the film shows balance.
Performances are good; Eddie Griffins is excellent as always and has some very funny lines. However, the other members of the B.R.O.T.H.E.R.H.O.O.D are just as funny, with David Chappelle as Conspiracy Brother being the best of the bunch. His theories are excellent, such as the basketball leagues inclusion of the 3-point rule to give white guys a chance and OJ was ¾ innocent. Even Denise Richards is good - mind you She-Devil buxom bimbo equals believable; Dr Christmas, Nuclear Scientist equals who the hell are you trying to kid? The roles match the people playing them well. Undercover Brother's other love interest is Sistah Girl is played with charm by the lovely Aunjanue Ellis, but to be honest it a Liz Hurley/Heather Graham role to Eddie Griffins's Austin Powers. Chris Kattan is great as Mr Feather, who is slowly being engulfed by black tendencies and hates himself for it.
Malcolm D. Lee, brother of Spike Lee, directs the film and he seems to have put some dampers on the cast by not letting them cut completely loose. Most of the comedians in the cast are excellent at improvisation and one wonders how the film would have turned out if they were let loose totally. Some of the situations are down right hilarious but some are overdone time and time again, such as the mayonnaise skits, which show weak direction. Funny ones include a series of clocks on the wall showing different time zones and the 'Black time' is 40 minutes slow and also a slow speed golf cart chase.
Also a special mention must go to the music score, which has FUNKY written all over it. Songs are played at just the right point to make you laugh, for example a beat-less version of the Sisqo's 'Thong Song' designed for white people.
The film actually reminds me of I'm Gonna Get You Sucka as well as Austin Powers, which is a good thing. It's enjoyable, silly and spoofs up the blaxploitation genre very well. Whether it has the longevity of Austin Powers is another matter, but I am off to grow an Afro and trade my Audi TT in for a gold Cadillac Elderado.
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