Undercover Brother
***.5 BM
Starring: Eddie Griffin, Aunjanue Ellis, Chi McBride, Denise Richards, Dave Chappelle, Chris Kattan, Billy Dee Williams, Neil Patrick Harris


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Spoofs and insane comedies are a rather precarious sort of film to make, because more often than not, they feel haphazard and hastily patched together, and if one joke isn't really funny it can snowball rather quickly and turn into one long, boring exercise in pathetic hamming and mugging.

Thankfully, "Undercover Brother" doesn't fall very far into that direction, although there's the occasional moment or two where it feints that way. Eddie Griffin is Undercover Brother, super cool superhero, that joins The Brotherhood to fight The Man. The Man has lackeys, though, named Mr. Feather and White She-Devil. Everything is tweaked up to ridiculous levels and zany hijinks ensue.

While it still has a bit of that seat-of-your-pants this-better-work erratic feel to it, the laughs generally come pretty steadily, if not all that heartily. I like the idea of completely making fun of all sorts of different race-relations issues by turning them into insane comic moments. Griffin is appropriately funkadelic, Ellis makes a fine straightwoman and Denise Richards isn't as annoying as she usually is. Taking the cake in this film, however, are Dave Chappelle as Conspiracy Brother, because he always takes the cake, Doogie Howser as an intern in The Brotherhood, Billy Dee Williams as the mind-controlled Colin Powell figure and Chi McBride as the surly boss. I love that guy. I wish he was my principal. Chris Kattan, eh, whatever.

Let's get to the obvious, though - comparisons will be made referring to this as an attempt to make a "black Austin Powers." I prefer to think of it as "Pootie Tang with a budget." Sa da TAY! Hopefully, this film leads to the eventual crossover flick "POOTIE TANG vs. UNDERCOVER BROTHER: SINE YOUR PITTY ON THE RUNNY TINE."

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