The Movie Binge

Underdog

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How to wear adorable little clothes in big people company (and enjoy it!)

Let me get this out of the way. I am not a "dog person," and I really can't identify with those of you who aspire to be "dog people," particular if you live in an apartment in Manhattan and don't have the money stacks necessary for like a private rooftop doggy playground or some sort of robotic laser poop slayer. I would like to note that I don't actually hate dogs, I just feel sorry for the lifestyle choices they have made for themselves. Your stereotypical dog is so embarrassingly ingratiating, all servile, slobbering licking and woofing and wagging. The fact that they put up this public face for just about anyone shows just how insincere and toadying your average dog is, and I'm hard-pressed to describe this behavior as actual affection or love. The lowest common denominator is a floppy, drooly tongue licking the filth off your wingtips. Kind of like what most Hollywood films attempt to do, come to think of it.

Underdog, is, by its very nature, a grovelling, sycophantic film, aimed at pleasing the lowest common denominator, children, or Hollywood's version of what children are. Real children are a lot more imaginative and dare I say perverse than a movie like Underdog would have you believe. I would hope that, in addition to me, there were several scheming, dark kids in the audience secretly or loudly cheering for the scenery-chewing Dr. Simon Bar Sinister (Peter Dinklage!) and to enslave the super-powered mutt (voiced by Jason Lee) and put an end to the menace of Jim Belushi once and for all. Now those are goals to aspire to - to conquer the limitations you were born with (e.g., being a dwarf) and rise to become the tops of your profession, even if the main facets of your profession mean treating animals just slightly better than Michael Vick and being a gloating tool to security guards.

But instead the damn kids were probably absorbing all these crazy and dangerous ideas about believing in yourself. And that, my friends, is a harmful message for a child, particularly when the main character's only apparent problems are that his mommy died and his dad has taken an embarrassing job and is Jim Belushi. It's not like those are serious obstacles to overcome, Disney. He's not a child camel jockey or one of the Jena six. Now those kids could use a punning, flying beagle to pal around with. This kid is just a little sad and needs to be told he's special in order for him to be able to like talk to a girl or something. I'm not sure what actual problems he was having other than being sort of a dick around Jim Belushi, but who could blame him?

The best thing about the film, other than Peter Dinklage's classic example of dwarfsploitation, is the fact that the tag line of the film, the call back line we're all supposed to remember, the "I'll be back" or "Make my day," is the brilliant "This will only hurt...a LOT!" You know it is totally payback time when you get to spit that little bon mot back in the face of the dude who originally chortled it while shooting you up with genetically engineered goo. Other than that, I would only recommend seeing Underdog if you are a fan of rhyming doggerel or really, really want to hear the Underdog theme performed in classic 2000s nu-metal style.