Oh boy, another cartoon is getting the live action Disney treatment. This time it’s Underdog, a show from the ’60s of which I possess a vague awareness!
Our hero is a disgraced police dog (Jason Lee) who can’t tell the difference between a ham and a bomb. He’s just a normal dog with no powers, and no ability to speak or anything.
Sad. Also, boring.
But wait! There’s an evil scientist (Peter Dinklage) trying to create a superhero serum out of animal parts! He and his henchman (Patrick Warburton) kidnap that sad dog and use him as a test subject for their evil plans.
This villain deserves a better movie.
Accidents happen, however, and the shitty dog gets doused in chemicals.
Cruelty to CG animals!
In real life this would result in a very unhappy dog covered in cuts and chemical burns, but in Underdog it results in a bizarre canine superhero. I’m not complaining though, because up till now, shit has been boring. And it continues to be boring, as the super-pooch is adopted by a shitty doorman (Jim Belushi) and his son (Alex Neuberger). He proceeds to wreck their house with his superpowers for a needlessly long time. He then falls in love with some lady dog (Amy Adams).
I don’t hate myself enough to make a “puppy love” joke.
Eventually the movie stops dicking around and Underdog gets to do some hero shit. Okay, so the movie’s still dicking around, but at least there’s a terrifying CG flying dog now.
God, make it go away.
Assorted superhero hijinks occur. Cats are chased. Villains are foiled. A cross-dressing Patrick Warburton is road-hauled through the streets. Your normal Disney-superhero-dog fare.
I mean, what movie doesn’t have at least one scene like this?
After a final fight with Dinklage and some suped-up German Shepherds, Underdog saves the day, and everything is mercifully over.
As I watched this film, I was continually struck by how utterly terrifying Underdog is. He bumbles around town utterly destroying shit with no concept of how much damage he is doing. He endangers lives and destroys massive amounts of property without giving it a second thought. This is Man of Steel-level carelessness, made even more frightening by the fact that the stakes are so low. The following mayhem is unleashed while trying to save a purse.
I mean, fuck, he nearly killed numerous people here!
Disney DVDs contain a function that autoplays special features once the film is over if, as I was, you are in too much of a stupor to turn off your goddamned TV. After sitting through the many deleted scenes and fake bloopers, I was treated to one of the original Underdog cartoons. To my surprise, the only similarity it had to the 2007 movie was the pointless havoc. The entire cartoon was a satirical take on how terrible and destructive superheroes are. It’s kind of amazing. When asked about the damage he’s caused, Underdog replies, “I am a hero who never fails, I can’t be bothered with such details.”
Here he can be seen for the terror he is.
The movie retains all of Underdog‘s collateral damage but never takes a moment to comment on how fucking awful it is. In fact, Underdog’s hazardous antics are never portrayed in anything but a positive light. The world this leaves us with is one where stopping a petty thief justifies the endangerment of numerous civilian lives, and where it is appropriate to level a jewelry store in order to prevent it from being robbed. Justice in the abstract is valued more than the people a hero is supposed to protect. Whippidy dippidy doo!
WHY DON’T PEOPLE LIKE IT?:
Gah, Underdog is just a sad mediocre pile. It’s a standard superhero origin story, but the powers are boring, the hero has no built in appeal, and there is nothing noteworthy in the way of plot, character, or special effects. I think this is just a case where there’s nothing really wrong with the film, but there’s nothing right about it either.
I mean, what is this? Not much.
MOST REGRETTABLE MOMENT:
There’s a comment about accidentally hitting on a male poodle that might be a little homophobic, but otherwise, nothing really offensive here. Tune in next week for a whole bunch of dogs embodying Mexican stereotypes, probably.
Fuck this dog.
Beverly Hills Chihuahua (2008)