Undercover Brother review

Austin Powers gets a funky makeover in this good-natured spoof of the ’70s blaxploitation craze. Inspired by an internet cartoon series, Brother follows its Afro-sporting, jive-talking star (Eddie Griffin) as he battles ‘The Man’ – a criminal mastermind out to stop Billy Dee Williams’ Colin Powell-style general becoming president. Plot, though, comes a distant second to lurid polyester, period tunes and Bondian set-pieces as cheap as they are cheerful.

Griffin makes an amiable hero, though his winning presence is rather undermined by co-stars David Chappelle and Chris Kattan. Between the former’s babbling and the latter’s bodily contortions, there’s only so much room to appreciate the lead (not to mention Denise Richards’ catsuit-clad femme fatale). Thankfully director Malcolm D Lee – cousin of Spike – achieves just the right balance between playful homage and mocking pastiche.

The movie runs out of steam by the end, and James Brown’s cameo (his second in two months after The Tuxedo) is one soul brother too far. But as spoofs go, you could do a lot worse.

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