Rated PG; Directed by Federik Du Chau; Starring Jason Lee (voice), Peter Dinklage, James Belushi, Alex Neuberger, Taylor Momsen, Amy Adams (voice)
Another superhero comes to the screen, but unlike Spiderman or Superman, this film goes to the dogs. Underdog is about a super-powered dog who fights crime and rhymes while doing it and even wears a cape. Sounds silly, doesn’t it? Expect nothing serious as this movie is based on a TV cartoon and comedy is the focus. Aimed at kids, this movie doesn’t offer much for adults.
Underdog (voice of Jason Lee) is a normal canine dognapped for scientific experiments. When Dr. Simon Barsinister (Peter Dinklage), along with his dim henchman Cad (Patrick Warburton), use the cute beagle to test a secret formula it doesn’t take long before the dog escapes with newfound powers. In no time at all the feisty dog finds a home with ex-cop Dan (James Belushi) and Dan’s moody son Jack (Alex Neuberger) and begins a life fighting crime.
The movie’s strength – an adorable dog – is also its weakness. The filmmakers ditch the animation and go for real actors and real dogs instead of animation and use computerized special effects to make the dogs talk. Using real animals limits the story. Instead of a world where human-like dogs and humans coexist, we no longer see animal characters cleverly parody human stereotypes. Of course, a clunky plot and some very awkward scenes do not help. There are some charming scenes mixed among the clumsy and children may not care if logic disappears. But really, what’s logical about a superhero dog?
Underdog is underwhelming. Your children will find enough of the movie enjoyable while you may find episodes of the old TV cartoon the better bet.