Volume 96, Issue 3

Thursday, June 6, 2002
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Who ever said racial stereotypes aren't funny?

Katana Kafe tries to take flight

12 Questions

Hand of God touches Katzenjammer Deli

Mousetrap sure to catch audience's laughter

So good it's Blackalicious!

Who ever said racial stereotypes aren't funny?

Undercover Brother
Starring: Eddie Griffin, Chris Kattan, Dave Chappelle
Directed By: Malcolm D. Lee

By Grant Donaldson
Gazette Staff

He's one bad mother – and I'm not talking 'bout Shaft.

The possible love child of Superfly and Austin Powers, Undercover Brother (Eddie Griffin) breathes funky new life into the time-honoured tradition of "blaxploitation," first conceived in the '70s. Director Malcolm D. Lee delivers a phenomenal comedic punch with his sophomoric effort, Undercover Brother.

Kerry Hayes / Universal
HEY THERE, FOXY LADY. Undercover Brother (Eddie Griffin) proves that afros are, and always will be, sexy as hell.

The tale teams Undercover Brother with B.R.O.T.H.E.R.H.O.O.D., a group of highly trained operatives determined to protect rights and equality for "black people of all races."

The funky freedom fighters attempt to stop a plot hatched by The Man and the nefarious and confused Mr. Feather (Chris Kattan), to brainwash black celebrities and political leaders with tainted fried chicken. However, before evil can be thwarted, Undercover Brother must reclaim his soulful identity from the wily clutches of White She Devil (Denise Richards) and escape the temptation of racial stereotypes and segregation.

This film attacks the audience's funny bone on an astounding number of levels. The script itself is a witty mockery of the age-old stereotypes that plague both white and black people. No stereotypical stone is left unturned, creating an atmosphere that allows the viewer to truly understand how insignificant the glorified differences between people really are.

The jokes are handled in such a way that no one race can be offended. Instead, the audience cannot help but laugh at the collective foolishness of the human race.

The action scenes are a mockery, not only of the cheesy fight scenes found in original blaxploitation films, but also of the unnecessarily high-tech camera work that has become a staple of 21st century filmmaking. The appearance of a rotating, foot up the ass x-ray shot is especially poignant.

The casting of supporting roles is also quite successful. Although Eddie Griffin's character is clearly the lead, the line between the stars and supporting cast is blurred. Each member of the cast delivers as many laughs as any other, creating a cohesion unseen in many Hollywood movies that rely on the power of a handful of superstars.

Especially effective is Dave Chappelle's effort as the paranoid Conspiracy Brother. The character is flawlessly hysterical, allowing Chappelle to use his full comedic potential through his patented arsenal of rants and raves.

The only problem that may arise for viewers is if the film's intensely sarcastic nature is misunderstood as seriousness.

For example, it is possible that the saucy female shower scene can be seen as objectification, rather than the commentary on male voyeurism that it is clearly meant to be. Also, while the cast as a whole is a masterpiece, Chris Kattan's pouty-boy image crossed the line between funny and annoying about three months ago. Much of his lines are humourous, but until he can tuck in that pesky lower lip, his comedic potential will remain stifled.

All in all, Undercover Brother shines in what could easily be the dark horse comedy smash of the summer. It is guaranteed to leave you in stitches and you might just learn something while along for the ride. One thing is guaranteed – thanks to Undercover Brother, the world is still a funky place.

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Copyright The Gazette 2002