Live-action adaptation of classic 'toon is Under-whelming


on August 03, 2007 by Chad Greene
This is only speculation, but perhaps the reason that Disney didn't screen Underdog for critics has something to do with all the times the legal beagle—a washout as a K9 officer—utters one-liners about his inability to “smell a bomb.” It's an all-too-tempting setup for a scathing line about how the same might be said of the actor who voices him here, Jason Lee.

“I would love to stay and chat,” he singsongs in the rhyming couplets characteristic of the cartoon classic, “but I have to find where the bomb is at.”

It isn't, as it turns out, in the 3,013 theatres the caped canine crusader is flying into this weekend, although his big screen bow(wow) is ultimately Under -whelming.

Imbued with superpowers—not to mention the ability to speak—after an accident in the laboratory of Dr. Simon Barsinister (Peter Dinklage), the doggy do-gooder is unwittingly adopted by a father (Jim Belushi) and son (Alex Neuberger) who nickname him Shoeshine due his penchant for licking loafers. In an ostensible effort to protect that secret identity—and his newfound family—from the evil scientist, he dons a strategically shrunken red sweater and ties a blue blanket around his neck while soaring through the streets of Capitol City.

If Underdog is, as his teenage owner says, “Superman with a flea collar,” then his kryptonite is Lee's lackluster narration—which director Frederick Du Chau unfortunately uses to condense sequences that a more ambitious filmmaker would have dramatized to full effect. Saddled with such shoddy storytelling, this is an Underdog in the saddest sense.
Distributor: Disney
Cast: Jason Lee, Alex Neuberger, Jim Belushi, Peter Dinklage, Patrick Warburton, Taylor Momsen and Amy Adams
Director: Frederick Du Chau
Screenwriters: Adam Rifkin and Joe Piscatella & Craig A. Williams
Producers: Gary Barber, Roger Birnbaum, Jay Polstein and Jonathan Glickman
Genre: Action comedy
Rating: PG for rude humor, mild language and action
Running time: 84 min.
Release date: August 3, 2007
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