American astronaut Captain Charles "Chuck" Baker lands on Planet 51 thinking he's the first person to step foot on it. To his surprise, he finds that this planet is inhabited by little green people who are happily living in a white picket fence world, and whose only fear is that it will be overrun by alien invaders...like Chuck!
A woman transformed into a giant after she is struck by a meteorite on her wedding day becomes part of a team of monsters sent in by the U.S. government to defeat an alien mastermind trying to take over Earth.
A bomb-sniffing beagle is fired from the mayor's office for a faux pas. That night a mad scientist dognaps him and injects him with an elixir. The dog escapes, but now has superpowers. He's adopted by a security guard - an ex-cop, who's a widower with a moody teen son, Jack. The boy discovers that the dog, named Shoeshine by dad, has super powers, but it's their little secret. While Underdog saves people in distress, the mad scientist and his underling continue their plot to catch him and take over the city. There's also a girl Jack likes who has a dog that Shoeshine takes a shine to. Will every dog have his day? Written by
Occasionally, a film's trailer gives viewers a realistic preview. Such was the case with "Underdog". Here is a film with humor offered without the condescension and knowing winks delivered by Dreamworks Animation and its ilk. The story is a typical zap-the-hero setup and does not pretend to be otherwise.
The actors (human and animal alike) deliver professional performances. Peter Dinklage is delicious as the requisite mad scientist. James Belushi is surprisingly effective and believable as the dad. Unfortunately, Patrick Warburton has descended from acceptably quirky into shtick. Newcomer Alex Neuberger (in his second feature) gives his part a nice emotional balance and doesn't overplay his sidekick work.
The animal animation is nicely handled and devoid of gimmickry. This part of the movie industry deserves praise for continued development and polish.
Summers have blockbusters created by and viewed by blocks; Underdog reminds audiences that a simple, fun flick can be far more entertaining.
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