A Night At the Movies: Underdog

Family night out tonight with Zander was fun. We went to see Underdog because it was the only movie playing (other than Hairspray) that was rated PG. The main character is a police dog that isn’t very good at his job (voice by Jason Lee – The guy from “My Name is Earl”). Through a series of events, the dog (later named Shoeshine) is removed from his job, captured by a lab, experimented on by a mad scientist (played by Peter Dinklage), and finally finds himself in a home with a widower (played by James Belushi) and the widower’s son.

Only after Shoeshine has found his home with this father/son combo does he begin to realize he has ‘super’ abilities. Almost by accident, he saves a girl and her dog from two would be robbers, who in typical cartoon style decide to restrain the girl while going through her purse right there in the alley. This gives our hero enough time to destroy a city block while figuring out how to use his abilities before he is able to get to the crime scene. Eventually, Shoeshine takes on the superhero identity of Underdog and learns to use his powers to fight crime.

My son seemed to enjoy the movie and it kept his attention for the entire 84 min running time. My wife also enjoyed it and felt like it was ‘a good movie’. I had a different take on it. Jason Lee has a great voice and although I never followed “My Name is Earl”, I did enjoy watching the show from time to time. He narrated much of this movie in the exact character and style as Earl. I don’t know that I would call this a bad thing but for me it was a little distracting. Underdog was clumsy and destroyed property, stole food, destroyed street merchant’s stands while fighting petty crime.

In an attempt to ‘spoof’ famous movie scenes, Underdog takes a girl dog on a flight (Superman), then steals a couple’s food so that he and his date could eat spaghetti together (Lady and the Tramp). He also jumps into a phone booth to change clothes and completely destroys the phone booth while changing. He tears up a hundred yards of asphalt trying to stop a car with no brakes before it hits children crossing the street while a crosswalk attendant simply stands there with a stop sign instead of actually getting kids out of the street. With superheros like underdog, who needs villains!

One out of Four stars, two thumbs down, I would put this one on the rental list if you have one of those monthly all you can rent mail order plans or a buy one/get one coupon the next time you are actually at a rental store.

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