Reviewed by: Patty Moliterno
|Featuring:||Jason Lee (Underdog voice)
Peter Dinklage (Dr. Simon Barsinister)
James Belushi (Dan Unger)
Patrick Warburton (Cad)
Alex Neuberger (Jack)
Taylor Momsen (Molly)
Amy Adams (Polly voice)
John Slattery (Mayor)
|Director:||Frederik Du Chau
(“Racing Stripes,” “Quest for Camelot,” “The Land Before Time III: The Time of the Great Giving”)
|Producer:||Todd Arnow, Gary Barber, Roger Birnbaum, Eric Ellenbogen, Jonathan Glickman, Bob Higgins, Robert Higgins, Jay Polstein, Rebekah Rudd, Erin Stam|
|Distributor:||Walt Disney Pictures|
“There’s no need to fear, Underdog is here.”
I remember watching Underdog as a child. I was young and don’t remember a lot. Watching this movie brought back memories of the mild mannered dog who transformed into Underdog.
This story of Underdog begins before he became Underdog. Dog (voice of Jason Lee—remember Syndrome from “The Incredibles”)—has no name. He is working for the police department. He sniffs out a box and everyone thinks it may be a bomb or drugs. The box turns out to be smoked ham. Dog is stripped of his duties. He is made fun of by the other police dogs (German Shepherds). As Dog is walking down the street feeling sorry for himself, he is captured. He is put in a cage and it looks like it is the dog pound. However, it turns out to be a lab that is overseen by the evil scientist, Simon Barsinister (Peter Dinklage).
So begins the tale of how Shoeshine Boy gets his name, becomes Underdog, meets Polly and saves the world. Many parts of this movie are taken from the cartoon. Underdog still goes into phone booths to transform. He still is in love with Polly. He still destroys an awful lot while he is saving people. But there are also some new twists on this storyline. Underdog comes to live with Jack (Alex Neuberger) and his dad, Dan Unger (Jim Belushi). Dan is a former police officer who now works as a security guard. Jack is friends with a reporter named Molly (Taylor Momsen), and she owns an adorable cocker spaniel named Polly (voice of Amy Adams).
VIOLENCE: This movie is rated PG. It is about a Super Hero. Expect violence. Underdog was a violent cartoon, and Underdog destroyed everything in his path. This movie does the same. Simon Barsinister, has a lab where he is conducting experiments on animals. His henchman, Cad, is played by Patrick Warburton. They use large needles to inject animals. The lab catches on fire and as parts of it are crashing to the ground, Barsinister is crushed. Barsinister is left with deforming scars on his face and he walks with a limp. There are dogs in an alley that are “thugs.” Shoeshine destroys the house he is living in. He crashes through an office building while he is flying. He destroys Capitol City Building in the line of duty. There is a jewelry store robbery. Dan Unger is kidnapped by Barsinister. He is shown tied up in an underground laboratory. Dr. Simon Barsinister and Cad try to blow up the Capitol City Building. Molly and Polly are chained to the top of a building.
Jack is disrespectful toward his dad, and makes comments about his dad’s job. He keeps secrets from his dad and this all leads to them being kidnapped. Jack also forges a note to get himself out of PE class and he has done it before.
LANGUAGE: There is an “Oh God” in this movie and a few other versions of the same. The other language is pretty mild and what I consider bathroom talk. There are several references to dogs sniffing body parts. The comment was made “You never see people sniffing each other’s butts”. A dog says “people eat that too?” in reference to poop.
Cad says his body is a “Buddhist temple”.
SEXUAL CONTENT: “Underdog” makes a few references about Polly. Polly says that “there is not a hose cold enough to break that up”, in reference to her and Underdog. After Underdog stays out all night with Polly, Jack asks him where he has been all night and he replies “I don’t sniff and tell”. Most of the off color humor came from the dogs and went right over my kids heads.
Underdog’s story can be compared to Jesus Christ. Shoeshine, the dog looks like an ordinary dog. He is mild mannered, meek and doesn’t appear to be anything special. No one recognizes him for who he really is. When Jesus walked the Earth, many people he came in contact with did not recognize him as the King of Kings. They expected far more than what they saw. Even today, people still do not recognize Jesus for who He is. As Jesus was lead to his death, and placed on the cross, He was the ultimate underdog (a participant in a fight, battle, or conflict not expected to win); even his own disciples thought he was defeated. But 3 days later, Jesus rose from the dead to defeat sin and death, so that we could have eternal life.
While this movie will probably disappoint true Underdog fans, I don’t think Disney even thought of that age range when making this movie. I watched this movie with a group of 11 people ranging from 45 to 2 years old. There were laughs and groans (some of this movie is just plain corny). I was sure my 2 year old would be scared at some parts, but he wasn’t. The consensus among the adults was it was cute, but they probably wouldn’t watch it again. However, I expect the little ones to ask for it when it comes out on DVD.
Bottom line: I don’t recommend this movie, but I would expect kids 5-11 to want to see it.
Violence: Mild / Profanity: Minor / Sex/Nudity: Minor
Editor’s Note: This film also used a tagline that some find offensive: “One Nation, Under Dog.”
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.