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The 365 Best Films of the 2000s

Heroes of the Zeroes: Undercover Brother

Heroes of the Zeroes is Nick Rogers’ daily, alphabetical look back at the 365 best films of 2000-2009.

“Undercover Brother”
Rated PG-13
2002

Though born online long after his inner-city cinema forebears, Undercover Brother gave the Superfly set an animated superhero. His uproarious 2002 expansion into campy live-action could’ve been subtitled “When Aaron Met Austin.”

“Boondocks” creator Aaron MacGruder sees past race relations’ PC sanctimoniousness to lambaste when necessary. “Undercover Brother” does, too, coupled with an “Austin Powers”-esque affection for bygone kitsch.

Given Danielle Hollowell’s dazzlingly dated costumes and a Stanley Clarke score of wah-wah guitar and disco strings, even title-font serifs seem to sport Jheri curls.

Buckwheat by way of Jim Kelly, Undercover Brother (Eddie Griffin) is recruited by the B.R.O.T.H.E.R.H.O.O.D. to combat The Man’s latest scheme to quell black culture — brainwashing a Colin Powell stand-in (Billy Dee Williams) into forgoing the presidency to franchise mind-controlling fried chicken.

Brother must fight lackey Mr. Feather (Chris Kattan, acting with sinuses and spazzing out to DMX) and white America’s allure.

In “Brother’s” second, and best, act, Griffin adapts nasal inflections — undercover like Urkel with a master’s and seduced by naïve, compliant Penelope (Denise Richards, aptly comic whether in on the joke or hopelessly out of it).

Not surprisingly, Malcolm D. Lee’s film fares better as a blaxploitation spoof than with its silly-spy shtick. Scathing but not scatological, “Brother’s” withering insights are equal opportunity: Here, trading on white guilt is as satirically punishable an offense as propping up prejudice.

The final 20 minutes deplete much of “Brother’s” mojo, but the preceding 60 are stuffed with terrific post-modern parody and blessed with “The Naked Gun’s” semi-automatic zest.

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9 Responses to “Heroes of the Zeroes: Undercover Brother”

  1. Naomi Mack says:

    Undercover Brother was a movie I found funny. He was a cool behind the scenes hero. Most of us have a little hero in us. We want to protect or standup for those who will not stand up for themselves. I just wish I could do it in such a cool way.

  2. [...] intact of the original script, credited to the men collectively responsible for “Three Kings,” “Undercover Brother” and “The Boondocks.” They’re not exactly known for pandering patter. But they’ve said they [...]

  3. ERIC LATRICE says:

    This was a silly movie, which I did laugh at some parts. It’s not a movie I would love to see again unless it’s the only thing on tv at the current moment. I like Eddie Griffin as a comic though.

  4. anna schnitt says:

    I didn’t care a whole lot for this movie..it had its funny moments..but it was just elementry to me.

  5. Travis Bow says:

    @Nick Rogers

    Right on, man.

  6. Nick Rogers says:

    Travis: There are things in "Undercover Brother" that are stupid, too, but I think it’s a film that’s mostly shrewd and smart about *how* it’s stupid (a la "Austin Powers," "Anchorman," "Zoolander"). "Wilderness" was, for me, just plain stupid, to its core and not in an amusing way. (As an aside, profanity never bothers me, unless the "C" word would unexpectedly turn up in a Disney movie or something.) Like everything on either list, it’s just my opinion, and although we disagree in this instance, I appreciate your readership and commenting.

    Andi: Hopefully your reenactment doesn’t end with someone being swallowed by a shark. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  7. Andi Watson says:

    I begrudgingly liked this movie when it came out, and I still giggle at it today. I still like to re-enact the "get over here" scene on the rooftop to this day. :) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bIXMtl6Gnyk&feature=related

  8. Travis Bow says:

    I’m confused. Strange Wilderness was listed as a ‘Movie You Aught Not Watch’, but Undercover Brother is a ‘Hero of the Zeroes’.

    I’ve seen both, and would never watch Undercover Brother again. But even though Strange Wilderness is one long curse word, it still has a lot of fun stupid humor.

  9. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Nick Rogers, The Film Yap. The Film Yap said: Baby, sometimes I'm too much man for my own damn self! http://bit.ly/cgoEDW #bestfilmsofthedecade #heroesofthezeroes [...]