Reviewer's Rating 2 out of 5   User Rating 4 out of 5
Undercover Brother (2003)

The Blaxploitation era of the 70s - famous for its improbable Afros, jive slang, and two-dimensional ethnic stereotypes - suddenly became respectable in the 90s thanks to Quentin Tarantino's "Jackie Brown" and Samuel L Jackson's subsequent remake of "Shaft".

Well, what goes around comes around, for that same era now gets roundly spoofed in this lurid parody.

In what might generously be described as a black "Austin Powers", Eddie Griffin plays an international superspy working for The Brotherhood, a secret organisation intent on battling the white elite.

That elite is represented by The Man (Robert Trumbull), a Bondian mastermind plotting to sabotage the campaign of America's first potential black president (Billy Dee Williams).

Malcolm D Lee's comedy was inspired by an internet cartoon series. The padded narrative and desperately protracted gags suggest that this was its natural home.

There's hardly enough material here for a sketch, let alone a film. Perhaps that explains why the title character (agreeably played by Eddie Griffin) is continually sidelined by mugging comics given far too much free rein.

First there's Chris Kattan, almost unwatchable as a cohort of The Man who really wants to be black. Then there is Dave Chapelle, whose role as Conspiracy Brother is just an excuse for him to perform a shrilly unfunny stand-up routine.

And then we have Doogie Howser's Neil Patrick Harris, looking utterly lost as The Brotherhood's token white employee.

Any picture that has Denise Richards in a leather catsuit can't be all bad, but this is still one Brother that should have stayed Undercover.

End Credits

Director: Malcolm D Lee

Writer: John Ridley, Michael McCullers

Stars: Eddie Griffin, Chris Kattan, Denise Richards, Aunjanue Ellis, Dave Chappelle, Billy Dee Williams

Genre: Comedy

Length: 86 minutes

Cinema: 14 February 2003

Country: USA

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