(In theaters, May 2002) It had been a long time since the last successful film genre parody, but here’s a perfectly satisfying take-off on blacksploitation movies. Undercover Brother may be a laugh-a-minute silly comedy, but it’s also a gentle satire of race relations that does more through laughter than others films will though pure anger. Eddie Griffin is da man (though not “The Man”), Denise Richards turns in one of her best (or rather, most appropriate) performances, Aunjanue Ellis is a revelation and Chris Kattan isn’t nearly as annoying as usual. Stay for the credits, as they contain what may be the film’s biggest laugh. Undercover Brother is thankfully devoid of gross-out gags and will probably stand the test of time adequately well. It’s solidly in the same vein than the first Austin Powers. Super soundtrack. Clean laughs. Pure fun!
(Second viewing, In theaters, July 2002) Holds up admirably well a second time around, though the pacing is not as sustained than during the first viewing. Eddie Griffin’s performance is excellent and the rest of the actors do quite well too. After Austin Powers‘s continued descent in self-referential tripe, it’s great to find a new approach to parody, especially given the racial social message hidden at the core of the film. Good stuff. Funny stuff.
(In theaters, November 1999) A mixture of the excitingly new and the distressingly familiar. Things start off in a promising fashion, with an extended pre-credit snippet that features an inventive action scene and intriguing new elements (Bond making mistakes, etc…) Unfortunately, the film loses steam as it goes along, only to end on a trite conventional finale that barely elicits anything beyond vague satisfaction. The villain Renard is, again, promisingly introduced (he cannot feel any pain!) but wasted in a role that could have been filled by anyone else. At least the series’ vaunted sex-appeal is distressingly high, what with Sophie Marceau and Denise Richards. Plus, Pierce Brosnan finally proves without a doubt that he’s the best James Bond since Sean Connery. The World Is Not Enough, however, is an average Bond film at best, satisfying without being truly interesting.
(Second viewing, On VHS, August 2001) Like most blockbusters cursed with a strong whiff of stupidity, this is one film that’s not quite as offensive the second time around. Just as forgiving the American Godzilla‘s brain-damaged script makes subsequent viewings oddly endearing, this James Bond adventure might even work better the second time around, if only because you now know when to pay attention. (It helps to have a good book handy to use during the boring parts, of which there are quite a few, all things considered. Is it ironic that the last fifteen minutes are among the most boring? I can’t decide.) This being said, Sophie Marceau turns up in looking great as an unusual Bond girl, while Denise Richard’s overall performance really starts to grate. (I think she’s attractive… but her delivery might be improved by sleep, unconsciousness or a long coma. “Unconvincing” is a gentle word to describe her work. I’ll just rent Wild Things again.) Still think that Brosnan’s the best Bond, close behind Connery. Still think that whatever the faults, James Bond films are good fun.