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Undercover Brother
Undercover Brother (Soundtrack)

Undercover Brother Review

Directed By: Malcolm Lee.
Starring: Eddie Griffin, Aunjanue Ellis, Dave Chappelle, Neil Patrick Harris, Chris Kattan, Denise Richards, Billy Dee Williams, Chi McBride.

Synopsis: Based on an animated comedy series created, written and produced by John Ridley on Urban Entertainment's Web site. It follows a man (Griffin) who, though he appears harmless, secretly works for an all-black brotherhood (B.R.O.T.H.E.R.H.O.O.D.) in its never-ending battle against the white establishment. A mixture of Blaxploitation homages, Airplane-style humour and the Afro-American way!

It's not quite Austin Powers, but man, oh man, there is some funny stuff here. I want to say that off the top because I usually get nailed for being pretty tough on stupid comedies (and this one has a whole slew of flaws) but Undercover Brother does have some good sized laughs overall. And it taught me that mayonnaise is bad, I never realized it, but they are right! Evil white salad dressing.

Eddie Griffin is a guy who I didn't care too much for when he first started cropping up in movies, playing the typical, brash, loud-mouth and annoying jerk roles. Or so I thought, and then I started watching the man more seriously since Double Take. Not a great movie, not a bad one...but he's pretty solid in it.

Supporting roles in John Q and The New Guy made me more interested and now he really comes out swinging in Undercover Brother. Yes, he's a 70's walking Blaxploitation movie but he is also hip enough to carry on in the regular world unlike Austin Powers who had to adjust. Naw, not Undercover Brother...he's just busy doing his own a black Robin Hood, canceling mortgages in bank systems for those who can't make their payments. Solid.

But Undercover Brother, for all its hip jive-talk and black conspiracies has flaws. One, the direction and look of the film is all over the place (and living in Toronto how was I expected to miss the fact that the CN Tower goes zipping by in the background during the chase scene?) The film never achieves a cohesive look, it's all over the map. It has a credit sequence that recalls the old TV and Film credit sequences of the 70's but never goes beyond that really.

But the saddest glitch in this film is the waste of Aunjanue Ellis in her role as Sistah Girl. Didn't anybody watch all the Pam Grier flicks from the 70's and think of giving this girl some of that kind of kick ass attitude in a more modern context? Ellis is perfect looking and acting for the role, she could have done it in a heartbeat. So, either the writer or director is to blame for the boys club of comedy rules here.

Here are the Highlights though...and there are many. Surprisingly...Neil Patrick Harris is a scene stealer in this flick...only rivalled by another scene stealer...David Chapelle. As for Billy Dee Williams doing a Colin Powell-esque General who is expected to run for President only to be under the mind-control of The Man and begins hawking Fried, I laughed every time he spoke. Oh, and for the guys, Aunjanue Ellis and Denise Richards (Sistah Girl and White She-Devil) in a cat fight that captures just the right amount of silliness without ever becoming offensive.

The weird thing about this movie is its politically correctness. For the most part it avoids swearing, nudity, and any overtly realistic violence which is good in one way, but for a movie that is an homage to the 70's blaxploitation realm, seems like a bit of a cop-out. However, they made the film for a mass audience and only through in major pop-culture references for the majority of the flick.

Overall 3 stars out of 5...certainly not a waste of time, but the potential that lies here to make this a a great comedy still lays untouched. But, hell, as a start, possibly the first in a franchise, it's not a bad step.

Copyright© Written By: Rob Paul

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Evil Ash

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