out of 4
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Review by Susan Granger
2½ stars out of 4
Blaxploitation films were big in the '70s and, slowly, that genre is
drifting back into contemporary culture. Quentin Tarantino did "Jackie Brown,"
while Samuel L. Jackson personified a new "Shaft." Now director Malcolm D. Lee
(Spike Lee's cousin) and co-writer John Ridley add a bit of "Austin Powers"
attitude with a fillip of Bruce Lee's kung-fu to come up with a satirical riff
that's filled with racial humor. Wearing a mighty Afro, platform shoes and shiny
snakeskin pants, Eddie Griffin stars as Anton Jackson, a ghetto Robin Hood,
who's recruited by sexy Sistah Girl (Aunjanue Ellis) to join
B.R.O.T.H.E.R.H.O.O.D., a super-secret society for the preservation of '70s
African-American culture, led by The Chief (Chi McBride of TVs "Boston Public").
Their nemesis is The Man (Robert Trumbull), who is determined to keep black
culture down and whose influence is so great that even a Colin Powell-like
General (Billy Dee Williams) gives up a run for the U.S. presidency in favor of
opening a fried-chicken franchise: "The General's nappy meal!" As Undercover
Brother, Anton works with Sistah Girl, Smart Brother (Gary Anthony Williams),
Conspiracy Brother (Dave Chappelle) and Lance, a white intern (Neil Patrick
Harris), The Chief's nod to "affirmative action," to infiltrate The Man's evil
organization to prevent further damage. "If you're going to pass in white
America, you must like mayonnaise," he's instructed. But they don't figure on
seductive Penelope Snow a.k.a. White She Devil (Denise Richards), a blond
temptress whom Mr. Feather (Chris Kattan), The Man's white supremacist
enforcer, dubs "black man's kryptonite." On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10,
"Undercover Brother" is a campy, silly 6. "Holy Motown!" Mockery may be the
funkiest form of flattery.
Copyright © 2002 Susan Granger
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