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"Undercover Brother"

Directed by Malcolm D. Lee.
Written by John Ridley and Michael McCullers.  Based on an Internet series by Ridley.
Starring Eddie Griffin, Aunjanue Ellis, Denise Richards and Dave Chappelle.
Release Year:  2002
Review Date:  6/10/02


Let it be known—“Undercover Brother” does NOT use all of its good jokes in the trailer.

The funniest preview I think I have ever seen turns into the best pure comedy of the year.  Eddie Griffin, star of the atrocious “Double Take” from last year, plays Undercover Brother, a rogue do-gooder that has a huge Afro and an even bigger belt buckle.  When agents from the all-black spy agency BROTHERHOOD run into UB while in action, they recruit him for a mission to take down The Man, a white guy (I know, shocking) that has brainwashed a black presidential candidate (Billy Dee Williams), into not running for office and instead starting a fried chicken joint.

“Undercover Brother” has a so-so first 30 minutes, with a lot of setup and some way-over-the-top black stereotypes.  But...

...those last 60 minutes...are FUCKING hilarious!!

Basically, once UB goes undercover on the mission, the movie is straight Opening Weekend.  Among the highlights:

--The soundtrack

I can’t think of the last time a soundtrack was so perfect for a film.  If it’s on CD, you need it.  Period.

--Neil Patrick Harris

In a world where great actors say comedy is the hardest medium and the Academy never rewards it, the former “Doogie Howser, MD” should be nominated for his work in “Undercover Brother.”  Seriously, he is great here, and I laughed at his every line.  And, when he wails “Daddy!”...

--The funny scenes from the trailer are still funny in the movie

When the guys in the BROTHERHOOD office ask UB what it was like to sleep with white temptress Penelope Snow (Denise Richards), listen for what The Chief (Chi McBride, “Boston Public”)!  And, that catfight/shower scene between Richards and UB’s love interest (Aunjanue Ellis) is still just as funny in its entirety.

--Dave Chappelle

Comedian Chappelle, who plays Conspiracy Brother in the film, is funny as hell, and is essentially doing an extension of his famous stand-up act.  Plus, he is as racist as any character in PG-13 film history has ever been.  Racism in comedies:  good!

--Funny bonus scenes

You have to stay until the very end of the film’s credits, but there is some good stuff in there if you are patient.

Hey, you’ve got to come in with an open mind, but “Undercover Brother” is some funny stuff.  And, if you like blaxploitation films or kung-fu films or black culture in general, you’ll get even more out of this film’s many quick-hit jokes.

Rating:  $9.00 Show


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
© 1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09