What happens when mad scientist Dr. Simon Barsinister (Peter Dinklage) and a former police beagle Shoeshine (voiced by Jason Lee) are involved in a fiery lab accident? A dog with superpowers (soon to be dubbed "Underdog") is born, and Dr. Barsinister becomes a man obsessed with revenge and bent on genetically modifying the entire population of Capital City. An unwitting former policeman, Dan (James Belushi), and his son Jack (Alex Neuberger) adopt Shoeshine in the hope of improving their strained relationship. What follows is a typical scene of home destruction by a young dog, multiplied exponentially by the incredible strength, speed, and newly developed language skills of one super dog. While Jack and Shoeshine struggle with the conflict between Shoeshine's desire to be a regular dog and Jack's insistence that he use his newfound powers to help people, mayhem reigns in Capital City as Barsinister and his henchman Cad (Patrick Warburton-- Emperor's New Groove
) wreak havoc on the entire city and Jack's dad, schoolmate Molly (Taylor Momsen) and her dog Polly (voiced by Amy Adams--Enchanted
) are all unwittingly dragged into the conflict. Underdog dedicates himself to good, quickly becoming revered as a superhero, but ultimately it will take the combined efforts and understanding of Underdog, Jack, Dan, Molly, and Polly to defeat Barsinister and save Capital City from destruction. Based on the original animated Underdog
television series, this live action film is entertaining, if not great.
Bonus features include deleted scenes with director introductions, bloopers, a 5-minute glimpse of the logistics of shooting animals and blending live action with animation, and the first Underdog cartoon "Safe Waif." (Ages 3 to 12) --Tami Horiuchi
To save the day, here comes Underdog
, a 1970s Saturday morning cartoon transformed to glorious, semi-CGI animated life; it's a talking animal live-action film--a la Babe
--with wisecracks aplenty. Voiced by Jason Lee, Underdog is the joke of the K-9 police force after his weakness for ham disrupts a public ceremony. Dejectedly, he lets himself get abducted for an animal experiment by a mad scientist, Dr. Simon Barsinister (Peter Dinklage). He escapes, doused in experimental chemicals, to become a dog with 80 times his normal strength. Jim Belushi embodies the sad-sack security guard at the laboratory who finds Underdog and takes him home as a playmate for his alienated tweener son (Alex Neuberger). The fact that chaos follows will come as no surprise, but what may is the genial tone the film maintains throughout.