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  Undercover Brother Super Soul
Year: 2002
Director: Malcolm D. Lee
Stars: Eddie Griffin, Chris Kattan, Denise Richards, Aunjanue Ellis, Dave Chappelle, Chi McBride, Neil Patrick Harris, Gary Anthony Williams, Billy Dee Williams, Jack Noseworthy, Robert Trumbull, J.D. Hall, William B. Taylor, James Brown
Genre: Comedy, Science FictionBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: In recent decades African Americans have been making leaps and bounds in the cause of civil rights, but now they must endure a new threat. A shadowy criminal mastermind known as The Man is using his organisation to erode black people's equality with whites, and the mingling of the races is abhorrent to him. Luckily, there's a rival organisation known as The B.R.O.T.H.E.R.H.O.O.D. which is dedicated to fighting racial injustice wherever it finds it. However, a new plan by The Man to stop a black General (Billy Dee Williams) running for President needs special handling...

...so it's time to call the Undercover Brother, played by Eddie Griffin. Originally, Undercover Brother was an Internet animated comedy series, but it was so successful that a big screen version was ordered, and this was the result. Some felt it was trailing in the wake of Austin Powers, with a seventies influence instead of a sixties one, and it's true the film adhered more typically to the spy spoofs of that era than the blaxploitation flicks of the following one, but it was all handled with affection.

Scripted by the series' creator John Ridley with Powers writer Michael McCullers, the film was less interested in plot than setting up the next gag. Almost all the main characters have code name, from the title one to the members of The B.R.O.T.H.E.R.H.O.O.D. (we never find out exactly what that stands for, incidentally) who go by such aliases as Sistah Girl (Aunjanue Ellis) or Conspiracy Brother (Dave Chappelle working hard at scene stealing). Once they have recruited our hero, a fine figure of a man in aeroplane collars and a huge afro, the business of stopping The Man can begin.

As we know, The Man can spring up anywhere, and even has his own corporation the U.B. must infiltrate. It's here that the film reveals itself as an equal opportunities spoof, as the bad guys (Chris Kattan as the can't-admit-he-wants-to-be-black Mr Feather in particular) send what they refer to as "Black Kryptonite" to sabotage the mission. The Achilles' Heel of U.B. is White She-Devil (Denise Richards), that is the promise of sex with a white woman although our hero must also make great sacrifices such as eating food slathered in mayonnaise.

Sistah Girl is having none of this, and works out a plan to free the Undercover man which involves a catfight that is thoroughly enjoyed by U.B. and the heavies who are there to take him down - they even settle back with popcorn. Displaying a keen eye for sending up pop culture, there are many jokey references from Diff'rent Strokes to Murder She Wrote, which all goes to prove that The Man's worst fears have been realised and the races in America already have great influence over each other; in this film at least. The message is that you don't have to lose your identity to get along with your fellow man, but mostly this is a goodnatured laugh a minute slice of daftness. Music by Stanley Clarke.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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