U.S. Release Date:
May 31, 2002
Director: Malcolm D. Lee
Writer: John Ridley
Producer: Brian Grazer, John Ridley
Cast: Eddie Griffin, Chris Kattan, Denise Richards, Aunjanue Ellis, Neil Patrick Harris
Running Time: 1 hour and 28 minutes
MPAA Rating: PG-13 (language, sexual humor, drug content and campy violence)
|Watch out Austin Powers, here comes the Undercover Brother|
by Sean Saulsbury
Everybody knows that white people conspire against black people to hold them back. That, at least, is the premise behind Undercover Brother, the hilarious new comedy starring Eddie Griffin, Aunjanue Ellis, Chris Kattan, Denise Richards and Neil Patrick Harris.
Griffin plays Anton Jackson, an independent undercover agent who teams up with the B.R.O.T.H.E.R.H.O.O.D.—a covert group that exists to protect "black culture." Undercover Brother must lead his team to stop The Man—an evil character whose only purpose is to stomp out the increasing "black" influence in America.
The plot and characters spoof films such as Mission Impossible and the James Bond series. It is formulaic in that sense, but fun all the way. Our hero, Anton, is equipped with gadgets like super-platform shoes, special powered watches and an ultra-enhanced Cadillac. He is a master of disguise and—most importantly—well-acquainted with the ladies.
It might be said that Brother the urban version of Austin Powers. Is it?—or is Powers is the white version of Undercover Brother? Whatever your view, one thing is for certain: Undercover Brother is funnier than Austin Powers.
Yes, the humor is centered around race relations—nearly every joke has racial stereotypes at its core. But subject matter is perfect for a comedy because, ultimately, these stereotypes are unimportant. We can laugh and make fun because what is important is one's character—whether you call it by that name, or "soul" or "funk."
Brother manages to keep the humor fresh by taking a variety of angles on this premise (without the cheap use of gross-out humor). There's the black man and his Afro; there's Mr. Feather (Chris Kattan), sidekick to The Man—a co-conspirator in the plot to stomp out black culture, but who struggles with the "soul" in himself ... There's the "black man's kryptonite" (Denise Richards) as well as the intern, Lance (Neil Patrick Harris), who is the epitome of all that is "white." Finding out just why he works for the B.R.O.T.H.E.R.H.O.O.D. will tickle your funny bone.
All these elements—and many more—will keep you laughing and entertained throughout the whole of the film.