MOVIE: ** (out of 5)
DVD EXPERIENCE: **1/2 (out of 5)
Jason Lee as UNDERDOG
Peter Dinklage as DR. SIMON BARSINISTER
James Belushi as DAN UNGER
Patrick Warburton as CAD
Alex Neuberger as JACK UNGER
Taylor Momsen as MOLLY
Amy Adams as POLLY
Directed by: Frederik Du Chau
BY KEVIN CARR
I tend to get pretty irritated at movies that are made – or at least titled – for no good reason. The thought of a live-action version of “Underdog” isn’t an awful concept, but how it eventually came to fruition is. In Disney’s live-action version of “Underdog,” they trample over the good name of the cartoon. Instead of a loveable shoe-shine boy who is secretly the rhyming superhero, they give us a watered down, DCOM style film.
Instead of telling the story of a canine superhero, it tells the story of an awkward teenage boy who discovers a beagle who has been given miraculous powers from a failed experiment. The dog is voiced by Jason Lee, whose narration makes you think you’re in a bad episode of “My Name Is Earl” throughout much of the film. And while the loveable Amy Adams voices Polly Pureheart, she’s only dropped in occasionally during the film.
Still, “Underdog” as a film is not totally worthless. It’s a winner with kids, as is anything with a talking dog. And if it wasn’t called “Underdog” and was just called ‘SuperMutt” or something innocuous like that, I might have warmed up to the film more. However, it was clear they were cashing in on Underdog’s good name and had no intention of making a decent Underdog film.
Maybe things wouldn’t have been so bad if they didn’t use the catch phrases from the cartoon, have updated music with the same themes or wouldn’t have shown a clip from the old cartoon as the opening of the film, all of which might have led the viewer to believe it would be a honorable adaptation.
The DVD isn’t a total waste for the kids, at least, and with a release so close to Christmas, it might see a sales bump. There are a nice assortment of special features, including deleted scenes, bloopers, a Kyle Massey “Underdog” rap (which could have been called “Underdawg”) and several imbedded selections in the movie that can be activated with your remote during the film.
One of the best features, which also serves to kill the movie in a way, is the original “Underdog” cartoon “Safe Well.” This is a breath of fresh air for anyone who wishes to see the original Underdog without the Disney spin. Still, you might be better off buying or renting the “Underdog” cartoon series.