Underdog – DVD Review

Available at Amazon.com

Directed by
Frederik Du Chau

Cast
Jason Lee ……… Underdog/ Shoeshine (voice)
Peter Dinklage ………. Dr. Simon Barsinister
James Belushi ………. Dan Unger
Patrick Warburton ………. Cad
Alex Neuberger ………. Jack Unger
Taylor Momsen ………. Molly
Amy Adams ………. Polly (voice)
John Slattery ………. Mayor
Brad Garrett ………. Riff Raff (voice)

Run Time: 82 minutes
Rated PG
DVD Release date: December 18, 2007

“You know that beagle you see flying through the air with all sorts of super-powers? The kind of dog that wears a sweater and takes a bite out of crime? Well, that dog is me. My name is Shoeshine.”

At least, that’s how my brain works when Jason Lee is Underdog. If you don’t like Jason Lee, Underdog is going to seems like the longest 80 minutes of your life. Jason Lee is the voice of Underdog, the title and central character. Underdog has dialogue with humans and other dogs. We hear Underdog’s internal monologue. Underdog narrates most of the film. This includes Spider-Man-like opening and closing bookends.

It’ a lot of Jason Lee.

Directed by Frederik Du Chau of Racing Stripes and Quest for Camelot, Underdog is fairly standard family fare: i.e., inoffensive to the point of being insipid. It supplies some token references to the Underdog cartoons, and borrows other elements from such films as Spider-man and Superman Returns. The whole thing is at about the level one would expect from a movie featuring super-powered talking dogs.

Our villain, Dr. Simon Barsinister, is played by a slumming Peter Dinklage of the Station Agent. His performance is fairly camp, but still threatening enough to scare my 4 year old. His henchman/comic relief, Cad, is portrayed by Patrick Warburton, the master of playing dense henchmen. Warburton is doing a slight variation on the character he usually plays (e.g. The Tick, Kronk, David Puddy, Johnny Johnson), but still manages to be the best and funniest part of Underdog.

Jim Belushi and Alex Neuberger provide the requisite “father and son with a strained relationship.” Belushi is doing his normal blue-collar cop routine, which doesn’t stretch his modest talents too much. Neuberger is decent as the kid, but the cliched father/son storyline is never particularly interesting nor meaningful.

We’ve also got some interesting actor’s rounding out the cast by means of dog voices. The charming, and Oscar Nominated, Amy Adams provides the voice of Polly Purebred. Adams sounds as though she is channeling a psychotically perky Drew Barrymore. Everybody Loves Raymond‘s Brad Garrett voices dog bully Riff Raff. More importantly than that, though, is the fact that Riff Raff’s toadies are portrayed by the voices of Die Fledermaus and Bender.

Though the film would be better were it a buddy picture between Die Fledermaus and Bender, it isn’t nearly as terrible as I was expecting. Sure, it isn’t particularly creative or inspired or funny, and the science is awful (e.g Underdog can fly because some Eagle DNA fell on him).

But, if you absolutely have to see a movie where an evil midget gets attacked by super-powered German Shepherds, Underdog is probably one of the 10 best options.

If nothing else, not counting the credits, the thing is only about 75 minutes long.

The DVD

Audio and Visual
The movie looks and sounds good. No complaints.

The Extras
First off, we got the “kid friendly” Disney Fastplay. This means that you can drop the disc into player and run out of the room, secure in the knowledge that the film will play automatically after some trailers.

We get a Blooper reel, which might be all of 90 seconds long. It’s nothing special

There are 3 deleted scenes with optional intros by the director. Even with the intros, this only lasts about 4 minutes.

There is a music video entitled, “Underdog Raps”. Pass.

Sit. Stay. and Act Diary of a Dog Actor is the longest and most involved of the special features. It’s the standard “making of” mini documentary, except that it is hosted, in character, by Underdog. Watched without a remote, it lasts about 5 minutes.

BUT

it also features a “Dig Deeper” option. This is one of those, mostly annoying, DVD options wherein you are prompted to press select on the remote. Generally, you only see these thing for the films themselves (e.g. the annoying infinifilms option for New Line dvds). To have this option in a five minute featurette is a little silly, as one is pushing the select button every 45 seconds. The five minute mini-feature is thus interrupted half a dozen times by a number of mini-mini-features. Ugh.

More annoying than that, is the fact that my DVD automatically played in Fullscreen with Quickplay. One can watch the movie in Widescreen. You want to know how? How would one switch from fullscreen to wide? Flip the disc over? No. Go to visual options? No.

In the Underdog DVD, Fullscreen v. Widescreen is selected via the . . . AUDIO options? What the hell?

Finally, the only worthwhile extra we are given is the original Underdog cartoon “Safe Waif”.

The DVD Lounge’s Rating for Underdog
CATEGORY
RATING
(OUT OF 10)
THE MOVIE

5
THE VIDEO

8
THE AUDIO

8
THE EXTRAS

3
REPLAY VALUE

2
OVERALL
4.5
(NOT AN AVERAGE)

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