Undercover Brother (2002) Poster

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10/10
Undercover Brilliance!
Andrew Pelechaty3 September 2009
These days, we're all used to the weekly deluge of movies adapted from novels, comics and other mediums, but 'Undercover Brother' – released in 2003 - was one of the first movies to be adapted from an internet source. The film is based on a series of internet-based short animated episodes, also called 'Undercover Brother'. The adaptation is successful (with some scenes lifted directly from the animated shorts), focusing on racial stereotypes while paying homage to spy movies and seventies blaxploitation films.

Eddie Griffin is brilliant as the confident, swaggering, yet good-hearted title character, who is called into the B.R.O.T.H.E.R.H.O.O.D organisation to stop The Man after he kidnapped presidential hopeful General Warren Boutwell (Billy Dee Williams) and brainwashed him to sell fried chicken, with an aim to wipe out the black community.

One of the strengths of this movie is the cast. Aside from the aforementioned Griffin and Williams, there's Dave Chappelle as Conspiracy Brother, in a role not dissimilar to his stand-up routine (in this case a good thing), Gary Anthony Williams (who provided many of the voices in the original internet series) as Smart Brother, Aujanue Ellis as the headstrong Sistah Girl, the backbone of the group, Neil Patrick Harris (before his breakout roles in the 'Harold and Kumar' movies and 'How I Met Your Mother') as the B.R.O.T.H.E.R.H.O.O.D's white intern Lance, Chris Kattan as Mr. Feather, the underling to The Man who is secretly enchanted by black culture, Denise Richards as White She-Devil, described as 'the black man's kryptonite', and a cameo from James Brown, the Godfather of Soul.

While there is a lot of silly humour in this film (like the 'Austin Powers' trilogy) and broad racial stereotypes – black people like fried chicken and hate mayonnaise – the black director Malcolm D. Lee, and the predominantly black cast ensures the black characters are never mocked for a cheap laugh.

The soundtrack is a highlight, with a lot of songs from the blaxploitation era, some Michael Jackson and more modern urban music. Even if you're not a fan of this genre of music, it's still fairly catchy.

Though it's very much a comedy (at times very silly but never stupid), the film has a lot to say about how ridiculous racial stereotypes are. The role of Boutwell as the possible first black president is relevant to modern viewers (even though the film's only six years old) with the presidency of Barack Obama only a few months old.

Overall, 'Undercover Brother' is a hilarious, silly film, which pays homage to the spy and blaxploitation genre and explores racial stereotypes without ridiculing them for cheap laughs.
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7/10
"Mess with the Fro...you got to go!"
MetalGeek2 August 2010
I first saw "Undercover Brother" on cable a few years ago and since then it's become one of my favorite comedies of recent years. Though it's basically a "blaxploited" version of the "Austin Powers" concept, "Undercover Brother" is funny enough to be enjoyable on its own merits.

As the film opens, we are filled in on the ongoing battle between the black community and a super secret organization known as "The Man," who works tirelessly to negate African-American influence on the world at large. Fortunately, the black community has its own underground group, known as "The B.R.O.T.H.E.R.H.O.O.D." created to undermine The Man's plans to "Whitewash" the world.

Eddie Griffin stars as Undercover Brother, a funky '70s throwback hero with a huge Afro and platform shoes, who drives around in a pimped-out Caddy performing acts of Kung-Fu derring-do to aid the African American cause. Normally a lone wolf, he is drafted into the B.R.O.T.H.E.R.H.O.O.D. when a black war hero (Billy Dee Williams)'s plans to run for President are derailed by a mind control drug designed by The Man. Now rather than run for the White House, he runs a nationwide Fried Chicken chain instead. Ably assisted by fellow B.R.O.T.H.E.R.H.O.O.D. agents Sistah Girl, Conspiracy Brother, Smart Brother, and "Lance" (Neil Patrick Harris in a hilarious turn as the lone white member of the group -- he got his internship through -- what else? -- affirmative action), Undercover Brother infiltrates The Man's organization to destroy the plot, though he nearly becomes a victim of their most potent weapon, the gorgeous Denise Richards, aka "White She-Devil" (whom "The Man" calls "Black Man's Kryptonite.") along the way.

I have seen a lot of discussion on IMDb about this film being "racist" towards whites, but to be honest, I found "Undercover Brother" to be an equal opportunity offender, with no stereotype about blacks OR whites going un-skewered. The cast is excellent, especially Dave Chapelle as the eternally paranoid agent "Conspiracy Brother," and the always welcome Chi McBride as the long-suffering "Chief" of The B.R.O.T.H.E.R.H.O.O.D. Denise Richards looks amazing in a white leather catsuit (her catfight scene with "Sistah Girl" is worth the price of the DVD all by itself), and oddly enough, even though I usually find Eddie Griffin and Chris Kattan (who plays The Man's flunky, "Mr. Feather") quite irritating in other films, their shtick totally works in "Undercover Brother." Fast, funny, and an utterly silly good time, "Undercover Brother" is -- in the words of its hero -- "Solid."
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8/10
Underrated Comedy
Claudio Carvalho4 June 2006
An Afro-American organization, the B.R.O.T.H.E.R.H.O.O.D., is in permanent fight against a white organization, The Man, defending the values of the black people in North America. When the Afro-American candidate Gen. Warren Boutwell (Billy Dee Williams) has a weird behavior in his presidential campaign, the Undercover Brother (Eddie Griffin) is hired to work undercover in the white organization and find what happened with the potential candidate.

I do not recall the last time I laughed so much with a comedy. "Undercover Brother" is one of the most hilarious and silly comedies I have ever seen, and very underrated in IMDb. The story is a big joke with the North American racism, both white and black, with very funny situations "à la Austin Powers". I believe this is the major point of the plot, keeping a neutral position and ridiculing and satirizing racism of Caucasians and Blacks. Dave Chappelle is the funniest, but Chris Kattan, Eddie Griffin, Aunjanue Ellis, Denise Richards and the rest of the cast are also amazingly funny. I did not understand the joke with mayonnaise, but I believe that usually Afro-American people do not like this dressing, or at least there is a clichés about in USA. There are many other jokes related to the North American culture that are impossible to be understood by an overseas viewer, but anyway I loved this movie. My vote is eight.

Title (Brazil): "Undercover Brother – Com a Cor e a Coragem" ("Undercover Brother – With the Color and Courage")
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Think "Shaft" meets "Get Smart" here. :-)
Blueghost31 October 2004
There's seems to be a lot of misplaced animosity among, what I presume, are "white" commentators, regarding this film's racial thrust.

The film isn't about belittling or ridiculing "white people."

The film is about tackling prejudices: And specifically those among the U.S.'s so-called "white" and "black" populations, but told from, ostensibly, a "black" perspective, and told with humor.

Reading the negative comments on this film I wonder what movie some of the angry folks were watching. Racism is using one's own physical traits to establish social superiority over another person, or group of people, who don't look like themselves. I saw nothing of any of the African/Black/persons-of-color trying to "reverse role play" by holding themselves in a superior light over so-called "white people."

It simply wasn't there.

Myself, I hate "white guilt" messages in media of all forms. I've had enough social agenda thrust in my face. But that's NOT THE MESSAGE of "Undercover Brother."

What a lot of the "angry-white-commentators" are bothered by is the fact that they believe this film makes ALL so-called "white persons" look like evil-clowns, or condescending jerks. IT DOESN'T. If that's what you see in this film, then maybe you shouldn't be watching movies in the first place.

This film, as stated clear as day by both cast and crew, is an attempt to tackle a social problem with good humor. If you're offended by the jokes in this film, then you've completely missed the point, and are, in fact, the racist idiot that you claim this film to be (I believe psychologist call this phenomenon "projection," where someone refuses to acknowledge their own faults, and casts their own negative qualities on people they dislike).

But to the movie; it was hilarious. Myself, not being black, I couldn't help but laugh of the number of stereotypes this film poked fun at; especially "Conspiracy Brother" (played by Dave Chappell), whose loose form of illogic-thinking and one-liners had me, quite literally, falling out of my chair with laughter. And Neil Patrick Harris (Doogie Howser M.D. fame) playing the "affirmative action" intern nearly bust my gut, particularly near the end of the film. And Chris Kattan as the evil high energy second in command was just brilliant. The entire cast and film was superb. Think "Shaft" meets "Get Smart" here. :-)

What this film needed was to poke more fun at itself in a more direct manner. In a large sense this film pokes fun at itself in terms of its genre, but I think it also needed to show a couple more stereotypes. One of the great "high-profile" stereotypes in white America are black people talking in theaters, or otherwise being loud and obnoxious in places and circumstances "white" Americans thinks inappropriate. It would've been nice to see Undercover Brother cleaning up "his peoples" stereotypes, but doing so with humor before going after "the man."

I think that's a thing the film makers missed, because the other thing I believe "angry white commentators" are bothered by is the fact that there are "black" folks who have their own prejudices, and that this film might seen by that segment of black-America as a green light for ridiculing "whites." IT ISN'T.

One of the other themes the film makers missed is the coupling that that occurs between Denise Richard's character and Eddie Griffin's character. One of the primary drives of racism is the abhorrence of interracial couples. This plot point, even though it's high comedy, seemed implausible for a racially motivated antagonist. Then again, that may've been part of the film makers' strategy to show how ludicrous racial prejudice is, and can be.

The final mistake, and this is more of a minor quibble, but a profound one from a fan of this film, was the downplay of Jim Kelley's role in this film.

Where I grew up Jim Kelley was a hero, and this was amongst a circle of friends who were all white. I think the marketing decision to ace Jim Kelley's role in this film was a mistake. Not a huge one, but a mistake nonetheless.

If you're still of the opinion that this film is racist (assuming you've read this far and haven't burst a blood vessel), then I would suggest you're taking the film too personally, because the film isn't ridiculing so-called "white-people," but prejudice that, in this case, is assumed by a large chunk of white America. If you think otherwise, then you're not viewing this film with a clear mind.

Beyond that, it's one of the funniest films I've ever seen. View it with a relaxed and open mind, and enjoy some of the biggest laughs to ever hit the big screen.
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8/10
It Tears the Roof Off the Mother Sucker!
EmperorNortonII29 June 2002
I loved "Undercover Brother!" It's the movie "Pootie Tang" should have been! I found it over-the-top, laugh-out-loud funny! Eddie Griffin scores as Undercover Brother, an afrolicious version of Austin Powers. And Chris Kattan is hilarious as Mr. Feather, an evil underling of The Man, devoted to the white man's dominance, but succumbing to hip-hop influence. Other funny performances came from Dave Chappelle as the paranoid Conspiracy Brother, and Neil Patrick Harris as the clueless caucasian intern Lance. Some viewers may complain about the black stereotypes, but you must look at it as black actors and filmmakers laughing at themselves. It's all a "solid" laugh!
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Deliberately stupid and very funny movie
Hang_All_Drunkdrivers31 October 2004
In the 80s there was a film called "i'm gonna get you sucka" about a black gang led by keenan ivory wayans who bring down a white company run by Mr. Big played by john vernon. It was hilarious and "undercover brother" is the same type of movie and equally funny. Whitey has mind-controlled a black general modeled on colin powell, and turned him away from running for president. Instead they have him shill for a fried chicken restaurant that has mind control drugs in their chicken.!! Whitey wants to turn blacks into slaves and the BROTHERHOOD led by our hero UB, is out to stop them. Among the choice bits of silliness is when smart brother develops a vaccine against the drugs but says they can't use it cause it only works on one person at a time!!! Now how can a vaccine only work on one person at a time? HAHAHA. I give this movie a B+.
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7/10
Austin Powers watch out for Undercover Brother
DunnDeeDaGreat1 June 2002
Undercover Brother is a smart and sassy comedy similar to Austin Powers. Eddie Griffin stars as Undercover Brother a smooth seceret agent type cat who is out to save the world from the Man. He gets help from the brother hood who have employess with names like Conspiracy Brother & Smart Brother and Sistah Girl. The supporting cast of Chi McBride, Chris Kattan and Denise Richards are all very good but Dave Chapple steals every scene he's in. Malcom D.Lee has made a worthy follow up to The Best Man and Unisversal may have a new franchise on their hands.
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Hilarious but not for the easily offended
vchimpanzee21 July 2005
If you find 'Family Guy', 'Married ... with Children' or even 'The Simpsons' to be in bad taste, you may want to avoid this movie. If you found 'Good Times' and 'What's Happening!' to be stereotypical and buffoonish, you probably won't like this movie.

If you are still reading ...

According to this movie, African Americans have made numerous advances as a result of the Civil Rights movement. But a powerful Caucasian male known as 'The Man', whose face we never see, wants to put black people back in their place.

Which is why the B.R.O.T.H.E.R.H.O.O.D. must stop him.

If there was such a person as 'The Man', he could have written this movie.

Eddie Griffin did quite a good job in what were essentially two roles. Most of the time, he had the giant afro and the cool clothes and the classic Cadillac pumping out funky 70s music as he represented everything good (or bad, depending on your view) about the 'blaxploitiation' genre. And he worked undercover as Anton Jackson wearing a suit and acting more white than I do. A very good contrast, showing a lot of acting skill.

Billy Dee Williams nailed the potential presidential candidate obviously based on Colin Powell, who was acting very strange for some reason. Not quite stereotypical, because he was always dignified--but shouldn't have been. His advertising campaign was hilarious!

Denise Richards and Aunjanue Ellis also gave good performances as the two female partners of Undercover Brother--one when he was black, and one when he was undercover.

Chi McBride and Gary Anthony Williams were very funny as two of Undercover Brother's associates. And Dave Chappelle was very stereotypical, very racist, but very funny--it was just satire, after all. Neil Patrick Harris did quite a good job as the organization's token white. And let's not forget the one associate of 'The Man' who seemed to want to be black and even acted black at times. That must have been Chris Kattan.

With all these talented actors, there were of course very clever writers to make the material so hilarious. It takes real talent to produce satire as opposed to just being mean-spirited.

The music was good too, for this type of movie. I personally would like to have heard Jay-Z do Lawrence Welk. Or maybe not. Today's artists don't often sound as good as, say, Rod Stewart. I'm not hopeless, though. I can't stand Michael Bolton or Celine Dion or, even though he wasn't mentioned but could have been, Kenny G. For some reason I do like 'Jungle Boogie' by Kool and the Gang.

I highly recommend this movie for fans of satire.
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8/10
Good comedies don't come along very often...
dgeer809 July 2004
...Most of the time, the type of comedies we get are teen comedies that pretty much only focus on sexual topics. Not my cup of tea. It's just not funny.

But here, we have a brilliantly funny comedy about a black man mentally stuck in the 70s who's out their protecting racial equality. We also have "The Brotherhood," a secret organization doing the same thing, consisting of mostly blacks. But they stress the message that you just have to be "down" to be in the brotherhood, and you don't have to be black. At first, it seems like only blacks are welcome. But then they realize that working as an equal team is how the job should really be done, regardless of one's race. So this movie has a good message, despite all the racial jokes.

But enough of that. This movie is hilarious! The jokes they make about both black culture and white culture kept me laughing all the way through. You can't take it too seriously. If you do, getting offended will come with the territory for you, and that's not what this movie is about. What goes through my head when the jokes are cracked is, "That's exactly how it is!" And I'm a white guy.

Sure, a lot of the jokes are ones that have been used before. But the WAY they're used in this movie and the creativity behind it all is what made me laugh.

So if you don't get offended easily by culture jokes, and you're in the mood to laugh a lot, this movie is for you.
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8/10
Funny parody
Jim-51230 May 2004
I am sick of "white-man demonizing" movies, and usually wont watch them. This movie, however, was a parody on the whole. It pokes fun at both sides, and with successful comedic relief. I don't know how it rates in textbook guidelines for proper film protocol. All I know is that I chuckled all the way through it, which is rare. It was funny and fun. (The mayonnaise slurping sound effect really struck my funny bone for some reason). A lot of thought went in to the details, I think. And they pulled it off without a lot of foul language and sexual content. Good job in my opinion.

The Man (I hate mayo too)
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