Director Charles Stone III’s The Underdoggs positions itself as an all-star, sports comedy romp, and it assembles a diverse, vibrant cast, featuring Snoop Dogg, Tika Sumpter, Andrew Schulz, Mike Epps, and George Lopez. The storyline explores the redemptive narrative of former NFL player, Jaycen Jennings (Snoop Dogg), turned youth football coach as he steers his underprivileged team towards triumph and wards off impending imprisonment. Unfortunately, this promising premise yields more disappointments than delights.
Stone III seems to find the task of juggling comedic farce with emotional depth a challenging feat to manage, given his stylistic hesitations throughout The Underdoggs. Though pitched as a comedy, it lacks the audacious humor one expects from such a venture, its attempts at rib-tickling far too derivative and sporadic. The underlying poignancy of redemption also falls flat, burdened by stale tropes and scant development.
Snoop Dogg’s Jaycen Jennings feels like a disjointed assembly of idiosyncrasies and inspirational movie quotes rather than a layered character. His disinterest in football and profound lack of concern for his legal predicament set a potentially interesting course, only to be compromised by forced motivation that springs out of nowhere. Tika Sumpter, as Jennings’ love interest Cherise, deserves mention, for despite being marooned with a bare-minimum role, she manages to evoke sincerity and conviction in her limited screen time.
The dynamic Mike Epps portrays Kareem, whose talent seems suppressed under the ill-written comedy script. George Lopez’s Coach Feis is presented as the heart and comic relief, though sadly he isn’t able to offset the grim heaviness induced by an unnecessarily intense Jennings. Andrew Schulz’s Chip Collins, while ideally meant to instigate some level of humor or charm, rather ends up provoking indifference. It’s painful to watch talented actors struggle with a dull script that doesn’t use their skills.
As a sports film, The Underdoggs sorely lacks any palpable excitement or tension on the field. The repetitive, languid training montages make viewers tired rather than excited to cheer on this misfit team. More importantly, the football matches, which should be climactic, are awkward, incongruous, and boring. Moreover, the pacing of the movie suffers from significant inconsistency, an erratic hodgepodge of overdone sequences and hurried scenes.
A film with a star-studded cast, a promising narrative framework, and plenty of light-hearted banter fails to deliver. The Underdoggs tries to be a redemptive sports comedy, but the humor is inconsistent and the sports sequences are dull.
The Underdoggs fails to find its niche in sports-comedy. It ends up a clumsy mess of hollow tropes, contrived motivations, and botched humor. Unfortunately, even an ensemble of talented actors cannot resuscitate this jumbled enterprise.
The Underdoggs Review: Overambitious Yet Unfulfilling
- Acting - 5.5/105.5/10
- Cinematography/Visual Effects - 4/104/10
- Plot/Screenplay - 3/103/10
- Setting/Theme - 3/103/10
- Watchability - 4/104/10
- Rewatchability - 2/102/10