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Undercover Brother: The Animated Series

Urban Works // Unrated // May 18, 2004
List Price: $14.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by David Walker | posted August 15, 2004 | E-mail the Author
The Film:
Those of you that enjoyed the silly but mildly entertaining Undercover Brother may want to check out this collection of animated shorts that served as the original inspiration for that film. Even if you haven't seen the live action version, these twelve shorts are worth watching. For those of you unfamiliar with the concept behind Undercover Brother, he is by day mild mannered Anton Jackson, a happy-go-lucky, non-threatening black man. But in reality, Anton is Undercover Brother, an asskicking secret agent who works for The B.R.O.T.H.E.R.H.O.O.D., a covert organization whose mission is to foil the sinister plans of The Man.

Featuring twelve episodes of the animated series that appeared on the Internet, Undercover Brother: The Animated Series kicks off with "Ain't Nuthin' But a Phantom Menace Thang", which introduces the characters and concepts of the series. The entire series features some genuinely funny moments that poke fun at race and racism. From black Republicans like Alan Keyes ("The Episode After Episode One") to white rappers like Eminem ("Melts in Your Bleepin' Mouth"), there's very little the show seems uncomfortable to attack. And while many of the jokes and most of the characters from these animated shorts made their way into the live action film, much of the biting humor seemed to lose its teeth during the translation from cartoon to real life. As funny and "edgy" as the film may have been, it doesn't compare to the more hard-hitting cartoon version, which really pushes the envelope (Undercover Brother actually kills Eminem In "Melts in Your Bleepin'Mouth"). In other words: these shorts are collectively more funny than the film they gave birth to.

Video:
In its original format, Undercover Brother, was a series of short cartoons, clocking in at around three minutes each, that were viewed on the Internet. That said, anytime you can watch something on your television, rather than waiting for it to download so you can watch something the size of a postage stamp on you computer monitor, it's a good thing. The animation is a bit clunky – as most web 'toons are apt to be – but the fullscreen presentation is crisp and clean.

Sound:
It's a bunch of short cartoons that appeared on the Internet! Whatta ya want? The sound is good. You can hear what's being said. But if you're buying Undercover Brother: The Animated Serieslooking for a dynamic audio experience, you'll want to invest in another disc.

Extras:
Sadly, there are only a handful of bonus features to be found on Undercover Brother: The Animated Series. Eddie Griffin, who starred as Undercover Brother in the live action film, introduces each of the shorts. Like a Chihuahua on speed, Griffin can be annoying as hell, and he's especially so before each and every one of the twelve shorts that he introduces. Griffin's intros are the same chapter as the episodes that follows, so you can't skip past him, only fast-forward (which you'll want to do). Beyond Griffin wearing out his welcome before it begins, the only other thing you'll find on this disc are brief interviews with some of the series creators, including John Ridley, writer of Three Kings.


David Walker is the creator of BadAzz MoFo, a nationally published film critic, and the Writer/Director of Black Santa's Revenge with Ken Foree now on DVD [Buy it now]
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