ninth symphony films - movie reviews


DIRECTOR  -  malcolm d. lee

RATED  -  pg-13

GENRE  -  comedy

LENGTH  -  86 minutes

RELEASED  -  31 may 2002

DISTRIBUTOR  -  20th century fox

OFFICIAL SITE  -  undercover brother

ESTIMATED BUDGET  -  $25,000,000
undercover brother - a shot from the film


buy the dvd from undercover brother at

buy the dvd from undercover brother at

when "the man" tries to derail a black candidate's presidential campaign, undercover brother and his fellow secret agents come to the rescue.

when chi mcbride is in his office, he says, "i'm gettin' too old for this shit!" he then looks up at a picture of danny glover, who has said the same line in all of the lethal weapon films.


picture from undercover brother

picture from undercover brother

picture from undercover brother


three out of four possible stars

Undercover Brother,a hilarious spoof of the Blaxploitation genre quite popular in the 1970's, benefits from a talented cast, an upbeat tempo, and a plethora of hilarious jokes. Entertaining from beginning to end, Undercover Brother is packed with laughs that begin with the first frame. The audience is introduced to the Undercover Brother, played by Eddie Griffin, sporting quite a fabulous 'do, when he performs an impressive acrobatic feat with an orange soda filled Big Gulp. And the film continues on after that sidesplitting moment much in the same vein. Although the jokes tend to wane somewhat in the final quarter, Undercover Brother is filled with more than the usual allotment. And those jokes tend to be much more good-natured than what is usually found in today's comedies. Save one particularly painful joke concerning a butt whoopin', the film is remarkably clean of crass humor and gross-out jokes.

Though those types of jokes can be entertaining on their own, finding a film whose entertainment value comes from the abilities of its actors, rather than the number of fart jokes per hour, is refreshing. Undercover Brother can be enjoyed by anyone who's a fan of comedy, without the danger of being grossed out over the similarities between concession stand food and certain bodily fluid influenced jokes. And while the spy spoof has been tried in films before (need one bring up Dr. Evil?), the film itself is never tiring or tedious. In fact, with this film's short eighty-three minute running time, moviegoers will probably wonder, with enthusiasm, when the sequel will be produced. And just to put everyone at ease, a sequel is already in the works.

While it is true that the jokes may be somewhat familiar, the entire cast of the film does more than a good job in making their scenes fresh. Eddie Griffin is quite natural in his role and the quick pace of his scenes that are thrown at the audience ensure that looking at one's watch is not an option. And the actors joining Griffin, there are several, all seem to have been cast with nothing short of genius on the part of the casting director. Hiring Denise Richards as the voluptuous yet innocent Penelope Snow, referred to in the film as "black man's kryptonite," couldn't have been a better choice. Richards's sometimes over-the-top acting, which in any other film, might be considered bad acting, suits this film well. And each of the actors playing members of the all black B.R.O.T.H.E.R.H.O.O.D. spy organization fill their roles as if the script was written for each of them. Particularly funny was Dave Chappelle, playing "Conspiracy Brother," a self explanatory title, but entertaining nonetheless.

Also entertaining in this cast were Chi McBride, playing The Chief, and Neil Patrick Harris, playing the bumbling white man hired at the B.R.O.T.H.E.R.H.O.O.D offices because of affirmative action. Hanging on the wall in back of The Chief's office are eight by ten photographs of famous black actors who have played police in past films like Danny Glover, from his Lethal Weapon days. At one point, The Chief gazes hopelessly at his wall of actors and sighs palpably, his character wondering how in the world the B.R.O.T.H.E.R.H.O.O.D will triumph. The photographs are one of the many small touches in this film that make its jokes just a little bit funnier. And Harris's performance as the numskull affirmative action employee is a great reversal on that debate. In fact, this film is filled with comedic references that poke fun at not only black culture, but at white people as well. The film is never too harsh on either race and its fortunate that the screenwriter thought of so many jokes that fly in the face of political correctness.

But that light texture highlights the only drawback among this film's many successes is that it sometimes does not go far enough in its satire of pop culture and the modern Blaxploitation of African American film stars. Though the film is on every level meant to be fun and entertaining, the light and fluffy feel to the story could have carried with it more of a statement on black culture. But, in all fairness, the filmmakers managed to provide nearly an hour and a half of truly hilarious banter that will, by and large, entertain most audiences. Bringing the serious subject of racism into a film can make the experience a much darker one very easily.

And perhaps ticket buyers interested in a more weighty examination of the subject would have a more enjoyable experience if they left their brains at home. Undercover Brother is funnier than all the movies currently on the auction block and, as light experience at the movies, is devoid of both rudeness and heavy drama. This movie sticks out like a sore thumb in a sea of mediocre and unintelligent movies, and is an example of how a comedy can entertain more than just a niche market, and still be intelligent. Brother is a solid example of a spoof comedy with a fine cast and a higher than average per-minute joke ratio.

Review by Kelsey Wyatt.

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