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Shoeshine (voice of Jason Lee) is a beagle endowed with extraordinary powers after an accident in the lab of mad scientist Dr Barsinister (Peter Dinklage). Newly adopted by ex-cop Dan (James Belushi) and his 12 year old son Jack (Alex Neuberger), the newly named Shoeshine (because he likes to lick shoes) becomes the all-talking superhero, Underdog, as he protects the city from evil. Along the way he also impresses the cute little spaniel Polly Purebred (voice of Amy Adams), to whom he has taken a shine.

Review by Louise Keller:
Call me a kid at heart, but Underdog is the cutest doggone fantasy. Based on the 60s tv series, the scriptwriters have dished up a smart script with appealing characters and lots of good ideas. As for the superhero beagle himself (voiced by Jason Lee), his is one super-appealing canine. While much of the story is predictable (a budding friendship with a 12 year old, a would-be romance with a pert spaniel, and recognition as a superhero who rids the city of evil), Underdog has one surprise element in its outstanding performance by Peter Dinklage as Dr Barsinister, a mad scientist obsessed with achieving power and glory through genetic manipulation.

The story begins when the beagle is kicked out of the police force after a false bomb alert (he mistakes the smell of a ham bone for a bomb). While he may not be able to sniff out a bomb, he can smell a good person: he literally runs into James Belushi's former cop Dan. What Dan does not know, of course, is that Shoeshine has just inherited supernatural powers while escaping from the evil clutches of Dr Barsinister.

There are some funny scenes as Shoeshine discovers his strength at home. Chaos ensues and I laughed when Jack (Alex Neuberger) realises the dog can talk. Boy and dog look at each other and both howl. Their relationship is nicely handled and while pouring over comic books, Jack persuades Shoeshine he needs an alter ego and suitable costume in order to become the superhero the city needs. He barks three times, dons Dan's specially shrunk college sweater - and the result is Underdog. The script is filled with good lines and Shoeshine's crush on pretty little spaniel Polly (voiced by Amy Adams) offers additional opportunities for humour. Adults will enjoy this delightful and funny family film every bit as much as the kids.

Published February 21, 2008

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(US, 2007)

CAST: Peter Dinklage, James Belushi, Patrick Warburton, Alex Neuburger, Taylor Momsen, Amy Adams, John Slattery

VOICES: Jason Lee

PRODUCER: Gary Barber, Roger Birnbaum, Jonathan Glickman, Jay Polstein

DIRECTOR: Frederick du Chau

SCRIPT: Adam Rifkin, Joe Piscatella, Craig A. Williams


EDITOR: Tom Finan

MUSIC: Randy Edelman


RUNNING TIME: 84 minutes


AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: Vic & Qld: September 20; NSW, SA, WA: September 27, 2007

DVD DISTRIBUTOR: WDS Home Entertainment

DVD RELEASE: February 20, 2008

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