Underdog follows the exciting adventures of a failed Beagle sniffer-dog. He develops supernatural abilities after accidental exposure to a mad scientist’s experimental DNA formula.
Self-proclaimed ‘visionary’ Dr Simon Barsinister (Peter Dinklage) and his assistant Cad (Patrick Warburton) capture Underdog (voiced by Jason Lee). They want to use him in their animal experimentation program, which aims to develop an army of super-powered animals. While trying to escape the mad doctor’s laboratory, Underdog is doused in the experimental serum. This gives him incredible powers of speed, strength and the ability to fly and speak English.
Underdog is adopted by security guard Dan Unger (James Belushi). He takes the Beagle home as a pet for his teenage son Jack (Alex Neuberger). Jack initially resents the dog (whom they name Shoeshine), seeing it as a token gift from a father who is almost never home. But the two soon make friends. When Jack discovers the Beagle’s amazing abilities, he decides to keep it a secret. Jack encourages Shoeshine to use his extraordinary gifts to help others. His amazing rescues make the Beagle a super-hero.
Meanwhile, Dr Barsinister plots to capture Underdog to retrieve the experimental DNA he needs to take over the country. There is a final showdown between Underdog, the mad doctor, his assistant Cad, and the doctor’s three trained German Shepherd dogs.
Kidnapping of animals; experimentation on animals; bullying
There is some violence in this movie including:
- Repeated verbal harassment of Shoeshine/Underdog by a gang of three stray dogs
- Verbal harassment of Dan Unger by the chief of police
- During a mugging, thieves scruff Molly (Jack’s girlfriend) by her shirt
- After a failed kidnapping attempt by Dr. Barsinister’s assistant, Underdog drags Cad over several city blocks, during which Cad smacks into a fire hydrant, a street sign and assorted city refuse
- Dr. Barsinister uses his three aggressive German Shepherd dogs to threaten the mayor, Dan Unger and Underdog
- Underdog knocks Dr. Barsinister over with a large marble dome
- Dr. Barsinister chases Underdog with a large sword
- Dr. Barsinister throws a large shield at Underdog
- Underdog knocks Cad down several steps
- The three aggressive German Shepherd dogs turn on their master, Dr. Barsinister and surround him menacingly
Alcohol, drugs and other substances
Nudity and sexual activity
Ideas to discuss with your children
Underdog is a fast-paced family comedy/drama pitched at children under 15. It is also likely to be enjoyed by older audiences, who will appreciate several clever references to the Superman film series.
The main message from this movie is that we are all ‘born for greatness’. We will uncover a wealth of wonderful things inside ourselves if we don’t give up. The movie presents the values of faithfulness, persistence, courage and empathy. You could talk about these values with your children, as well as:
- the consequences of verbal and physical harassment
- the inappropriateness of using violence to solve problems
- our responsibility to care for animals.