Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Frederik Du Chau|
by W. Watts Biggers
|Music by||Randy Edelman|
|Edited by||Tom Finan|
|Distributed by||Buena Vista Pictures|
|Box office||$65.3 million|
Underdog is a 2007 American superhero family comedy film based on the 1960s cartoon series of the same name. Directed by Frederik Du Chau and written by Joe Piscatella, Adam Rifkin, and Craig A. Williams, the film stars Jim Belushi, Peter Dinklage, John Slattery, and Patrick Warburton with the voice talents of Jason Lee, Amy Adams, and Brad Garrett. The film was loosely based on the super-powered cartoon character of the same name and several other characters from the cartoon. Produced by Spyglass Entertainment and DreamWorks Classics, the film was released theatrically in the United States by Walt Disney Pictures. Unlike the TV series, the Underdog character is portrayed as a regular dog rather than an anthropomorphic one. Underdog, voiced by Jason Lee, was played by a lemon beagle named Leo sporting a red sweater and a blue cape. The film grossed $65.3 million worldwide.
In the Capital City Town Hall, a beagle on the police bomb squad sets off a false alarm. After being shunned by his fellow police canines, the beagle leaves in shame and is abducted off the street by Cad, who takes him to Simon Barsinister's lab. Bitter his proposal for genetic experimentation was declined, Simon plans to prove the mayor wrong by testing his new serum on the beagle. Underdog escapes and runs amok in the lab, causing a fire and becoming exposed to various chemicals, which modify his DNA and give him superpowers.
After his escape, the beagle avoids an encounter with a Rottweiler named Riff Raff and his lackeys. Dan Unger strikes the beagle with his car, but, thanks to the serum, the beagle is unharmed. Dan takes him home and names him Shoeshine after the dog licks his shoes. Dan's son, Jack, becomes jealous of Shoeshine's attention. Dan retired from the police to spend more time with Jack after his wife's death but still seems busy. Jack leaves for school and Dan for work, leaving Shoeshine at the house alone, where he, still unaware of his new powers, accidentally makes a very large mess. After coming home, Jack complains as he cleans up, and Shoeshine shocks both of them by claiming it was an accident. Jack initially runs away, but after they reach a park, Jack and Shoeshine talk and bond over their respective attraction to Molly and Polly, Jack's friend and her dog. After the girls leave, Jack and Shoeshine test his powers.
When Molly and Polly are mugged, Shoeshine rushes to their aid, discovering he can fly. After discreetly rescuing them, Shoeshine returns home with Jack, making Jack promise to never reveal his powers. Cad shows up at the door with posters of Shoeshine, but Jack fools him into leaving just before Dan comes home to discover the mess. Meanwhile, Simon and Cad find a new lair beneath the city, then plan a robbery to fund rebuilding Simon's lab. Seeing Cad's heist on the news, Jack convinces Shoeshine to intervene. Shoeshine disguises himself and saves the hostages, but Cad escapes. Shoeshine adopts the alias Underdog and becomes the city's resident superhero, donning a red sweater and blue cape as his disguise.
Simon repeatedly fails to recreate his serum and sends Cad to obtain a sample of Shoeshine's DNA. Shoeshine is rebuffed by Polly but gets a date with her as Underdog. Cad fails to capture Underdog but obtains his collar, which contains Underdog's name and address. Barsinister and Cad kidnap Dan and force him to call Shoeshine for help. Shoeshine and Jack attempt a rescue, but Barsinister uses both Jack and Dan as hostages to convince Shoeshine to give up his DNA. Barsinister synthesizes Underdog's superpowers into pills, forces Shoeshine to take a power-nullifying antidote pill, and feeds the super pills to three trained German Shepherds. He and Cad leave the family trapped in the sewers, but Dan's police experience allows him to free everyone. They pursue Barsinister with a hypodermic filled with the antidote.
At the city hall, Barsinister takes the mayor hostage and instructs Cad to attach a bomb rigged with a mind control serum to the roof; Molly and Polly follow Cad. Shoeshine smells the bomb and, conquering his self-doubt, enters the building despite having lost his powers. During a scuffle with Barsinister, Shoeshine accidentally rips open Barsinister's pocket and swallows a pill. With his powers restored, Shoeshine temporarily incapacitates the German Shepherds after he hears Molly and Polly cry for help, but Barsinister eats a pill and distracts Shoeshine by tossing a Frisbee. When the German Shepherds recover, Shoeshine convinces them to turn on Barsinister, who has not treated them well. While they restrain Barsinister, Shoeshine disarms the bomb, saving Molly and Polly. Dan injects Barsinister with the antidote, and Shoeshine, dressed now as Underdog, buries the bomb in the park. He is caught in the explosion and thought dead, but a mournful crowd is overjoyed when he revives. Dan is reinstated as a police officer, Barsinister and Cad go to jail, and Shoeshine returns to protecting Capital City as Underdog.
- Peter Dinklage as Dr. Simon Barsinister
- Patrick Warburton as Cad Lackey
- Jim Belushi as Dan Unger
- Alex Neuberger as Jack Unger
- Taylor Momsen as Molly
- John Slattery as the Mayor
- Samantha Bee as Principal
- Frank L. Ridley as Police Sergeant
- Jason Lee as Shoeshine / Underdog
- Amy Adams as Sweet Polly Purebred
- Brad Garrett as Riff Raff
- John DiMaggio as Bulldog / Supershep
- Phil Morris as Maim ("Supershep #1")
- Michael Massee as Kill ("Supershep #2")
- Cam Clarke as Attack ("Supershep #3") / Little Brown Dog
- Jess Harnell as Astronaut
Underdog opened on August 3, 2007 in 3,013 theaters across the United States. It earned $11,585,121 on its opening weekend, placing in third behind The Bourne Ultimatum and the second weekend of The Simpsons Movie. The film closed on December 13, 2007, having grossed $43,760,605 in the domestic box office and $21,509,872 overseas for a worldwide total of $65,270,477. The film was released on Blu-ray & DVD on December 18, 2007.
The licensed soundtrack album is only available as a download on various online music stores. It contains the original score by Randy Edelman and the hip hop rendition of the Underdog theme title, "Underdog Raps", performed by then-Disney star Kyle Massey, which received airplay on Radio Disney. The Plain White T's rendition of the theme, titled "Underdog Rocks", plays at the beginning of the film, but was not included on the album.
On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 14% based on 69 reviews and an average rating 4/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Underdog is a mostly forgettable adaptation that relies far too heavily on recycled material and sloppy production." On Metacritic, the film has a score of 37 out of 100 based on 16 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A−" on an A+ to F scale.
- "UNDERDOG (U)". British Board of Film Classification. October 15, 2007. Retrieved July 21, 2015.
- "Underdog (2007)". Box Office Mojo. Internet Movie Database. December 14, 2007. Retrieved July 21, 2015.
- "Weekend Box Office Results for August 3-5, 2007". Box Office Mojo. Internet Movie Database. August 6, 2007. Retrieved July 21, 2015.
- "Underdog". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved July 21, 2015.
- "Underdog". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved July 21, 2015.
- "CinemaScore". cinemascore.com. Retrieved November 14, 2016.
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