A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that they might be more excited to see a beloved old cartoon transformed to a film than their kids. But even children who've never heard of the super crime-fighting dog will be drawn to a talking-animal movie. Although it's lighthearted, there is some mild, cartoonish violence involving characters being dragged through the street, getting hit with objects, and beging threatened by German Shepherds and a mad scientist and his sidekick. Dog owners: Don't be surprised if your young child pretends that your pet is Underdog.
What's the story?
Jason Lee voices the titular beagle, who abandons his post as a police dog, gets zapped with superpowers by Capitol City's resident mad scientist, Dr. Barsinister (Peter Dinklage), and unexpectedly lands at the home of security guard Dan Unger (James Belushi) and his mopey teenager Jack (Alex Neuberger). Jack, who initially dismisses the new pet his dad names Shoeshine, soon discovers the rescue dog is anything but normal -- he's got superstrength and can inexplicably talk human. Together they decide to use Shoeshine's abilities to keep their city crime free. With a cape, an undersized "U" sweater, and a penchant for speaking in rhyme, Underdog is born.
Is it any good?
UNDERDOG is back, but instead of capturing the kitschy fun of the long-running animated series, the rhyming canine has been rather blandly transformed into a gabbing live-action dog. Never fear, however, as most kids won't know the difference since it's parents and not children who remember the beloved original.
But aside from a couple of laughs coaxed from slapsticky antics, the predictable action seems squarely aimed at very young children. There's nothing remarkable about the special effects, nor does the story line build to a thrilling dramatic showdown. Underdog obviously saves the day, but it's not all that heart-stopping. Still, young ones love talking animals, and they'll overlook the film's shortcomings when they see a flying superdog.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the importance of helping others -- especially the people you love. How does Underdog help bring Jack and his dad together? How do they help Underdog? Kids: What would you do if your dog had superpowers? Families who've seen episodes of the old TV show can also talk about how it compares with this version.
- In theaters: August 3, 2007
- On DVD or streaming: December 18, 2007
- Cast: James Belushi, Jason Lee, Peter Dinklage
- Director: Frederik Du Chau
- Studio: Walt Disney Pictures
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Superheroes, Adventures, Misfits and Underdogs
- Run time: 84 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: rude humor, mild language and action.
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