Tuesday, February 6, 2024

Review: Prime Video's "THE UNDERDOGGS" is Vulgar, Funny and Holds The Titty

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 5 of 2024 (No. 1949) by Leroy Douresseaux

The Underdoggs (2024)
Running time:  96 minutes (1 hour, 36 minutes)
MPA – R for pervasive language, sexual references, drug use, and some underage drinking
DIRECTOR: Charles Stone III
WRITERS:  Danny Segal and Isaac Schamis
PRODUCERS:  Kenya Barris, Mychelle Deschamps, Jonathan Glickman, Constance Schwartz-Morini, and Calvin Broadus (Snoop Dogg)
CINEMATOGRAPHER:  Mitchell Amundsen (D.o.P.)
EDITOR:  Paul Millspaugh
COMPOSER:  Joseph Shirley


Starring:  Snoop Dogg, Tika Sumpter, Mike Epps, Elias Ferguson, Jonigan Booth, Caleb Cm Dixon, Adan James Carrillo, Alexander Michael Gordon, Kylah Davila, Andrew Schulz, Thom Scott II, Kal Penn, Kandi Burruss, Tony Gonzalez, Terry Bradshaw, and George Lopez



--Snopp Dogg is excellent is this truly funny sports comedy.

--This film has a lot of profanity and bad behavior, and their reference to sex acts and sex organs is plentiful.  It's family comedy that is not appropriate for viewing, unless the family is a bit daring.

--The Underdogg's scatological tale of a washed up, arrogant coach and a group of kids who know mostly disappointment does not come across as corny or phony.  The Underdoggs keeps it real, perhaps, too real sometimes.


The Underdoggs is a 2024 sports comedy film from director Charles Stone III.  The film is an Amazon “Prime Original” that began streaming on “Prime Video” January 26, 2024.  The Underdoggs follows a washed-up former professional football player who decides to coach a peewee football team as way to regain his fame only to learn some important live lessons.

The Underdoggs opens at the “California High School State Championship 1997.”  Jaycen "Two J's" Jennings (Elias Ferguson) is the star wide receiver at Long Beach Polytechnic High School, and by catching the “Hail Mary” pass thrown his way, he wins the state championship for his school.  Jaycen goes on to be a star professional football player, but his ego eventually gets him tossed from the professional ranks.

Now, Jaycen Jennings (Snopp Dogg) is a washed-up ex-professional football star – an arrogant washed up former football star, and the days of being “Two J's” are behind him.  Still, he is desperately trying to hang onto fame, hopefully by landing a plum gig hosting his own Fox Sports TV show.  However, Jaycen hits rock bottom when he is sentenced to community service after an accident.

Eventually, he finds his way to the Los Angeles County Community Outreach Program, where he decides to coach a peewee football squad, a group of poor kids known as “the Green Team.”  Jaycen, however, sees this as a chance to get what he wants, but will he be forced to really give these kids what they need – a coach that cares?

I am shocked by how much I really like The Underdoggs.  Of course, the screenplay by Danny Segal and Isaac Schamis (from a pitch by Snoop Dogg and fellow producer, Constance Schwartz-Morini) revisits familiar territory.  The tale of a fallen coach, mentor, or role model and his team of poor kids, outcasts, and assorted misfits has played out in such films as The Bad News Bears (1976) and Role Models (2008).  The Mighty Ducks (1992), which is referenced in The Underdoggs, is apparently a similar film, but I have never seen it (nor have I ever wanted to).

I have been a long-time fan of Snopp Dogg, and perhaps because of serendipity, he is perfect as an actor is this story of underdogs.  I like that the film allows Jaycen to stay true to himself while also evolving, but the children also keep it real while learning to take pride in themselves and in their efforts.  In this way, The Underdoggs is a perfect, lesson-heavy, family film, but...

The Underdoggs is rated “R” by the MPA for “pervasive language, sexual references, drug use, and some underage drinking,” and alla' that shit is actually in the film, sometimes in large quantities.  There is even a funny “disclaimer” at the beginning of The Underdoggs that basically says that today's children use the same profane words spoken in the film.  Perhaps, the filmmakers' argument is this is indeed a thoroughly modern family-friendly film.  I think the “F-bomb” is said in The Underdoggs seemingly more than one hundred times.  So its appropriateness will vary from family to family, respective of decorum and personal tastes.  I have to admit that I was uncomfortable with the amount of profanity and bad behavior in this film, but...

I still laughed a lot.  The Underdoggs is uproariously funny.  I think Mike Epps as Kareem, Jaycen's friend who becomes his assistant coach, and Tika Sumpter as Cherise Porter, who was Jaycen's high school girlfriend, make the best of characters that are not that well written.  Epps is always a scene-stealer in everything from comedy to action to horror, and he grabs all he can here.  Sumpter makes Cherise an effective moral check on Jaycen's selfishness.

In the end, I feel totally comfortable recommending The Underdoggs to adult and older teen viewers.  It is one of the funniest films of the new year, so far.  I think some young viewers will be crazy about The Underdoggs, whether their parents approve or not.

7 of 10
★★★½ out of 4 stars

Tuesday, February 6, 2024

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