Sunday, August 19, 2007

Movie Log: Underdog

Hey, my title rhymes...and that's very appropriate.

Underdog has gotten bad reviews, mostly because it's a live-action kids movie based on an old, beloved, badly-animated show (which was for kids at the time, but whose target audience is now all grown up and sophisticated). I'll admit, looking at the poster, that creature doesn't much look like the Underdog I know. But, on its own terms, Underdog the movie is fun and even witty.

Patrick Warburton, as Cad, the sidekick (he's prefer to be called "partner") of our villain, Simon Barsinister, continues his streak of being wonderfully funny in any project for kids he's cast in. Sure, he plays essentially the same part every time, but his voice is superb and his facial expressions wonderful. If he's in a movie for kids, you know it can't be that bad. (I also just learned from IMDB that he was born in Paterson, New Jersey, which is just down the road from me and also the birthplace of Lou Costello.)

Also good in this are Peter Dinklage (who I wish would work more, since he's great every time I see him) as Barsinister and Jason Lee as Underdog's voice. Oh, and the kid is decent, as well, though I spent most of the movie wondering "Is that the kid from Ned's Declassified?" (And it is.) Yes, it's got the plot you'd expect, and turning Underdog into live-action was an odd thing to do, and it is definitely designed as a movie for kids...but, on its own terms, it's quite entertaining. There are a lot of references to the TV show (down to "It's a bird, it's a plane, it's a frog"), so the people who made this knew what they were doing.

If you're the world's biggest Underdog fan, you'll inevitably be disappointed. If you vaguely remember the TV show fondly, and want to take some kids to a fun summer movie, you'll probably like this. Honestly, given the initial decision to make a live-action Underdog movie, this is probably the best possible movie that could have resulted. (My kids are already saying that they want it on DVD.)

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