‘This is so much more fun than sticking your head out the car window!’ whoops the gifted canine protagonist of Underdog, a live-action feature from Disney about a crime fighting dog with super-powers. Attractive as this proposition might sound to fans of both talking-animal and superhero genres, Frederik Du Chau’s family-friendly pooch-flick is a wayward affair with none of the humble charms of the 1960s cartoon series.
Pitched somewhere between Hong Kong Phooey and Scrappy Doo, the new live action Underdog relies heavily on Jason Lee’s laid-back voice work and some Babe-style special effects to get some expression out of an awkwardly positioned beagle. The human performers look even less comfortable, with Peter Dinklage running through some awful, mad scientist shtick complete with an unfunny sidekick, Cad (Patrick Warburton).
Despite some genuinely surreal scenes of dogs chatting each other up, it’s left to veteran actor Jim Belushi to save the day. The prodigal hero of talented dog movies since 1989’s genre ‘meisterwerk’ K-9, Belushi brings welcome gravitas to his small role as Underdog’s owner. (Eddie Harrison)
General release from Fri 1 Feb.