The UnderDoggs movie poster

The UnderDoggs

In theaters January 26, 2024

Rated

,

100 minutes

Directed by:

Starring: , , ,

The UnderDoggs (2024) is a foul-mouthed urban reimagining of the Bad News Bears (1976) or Little Giants 1994). I would be very interested in seeing how they redub the dialog for basic cable.

Jaycen “Two Js” Jennings (Snoop Dogg) is an ex-football player past his prime. His agent avoids his calls, he’s mocked on sports shows, and his idea of his impact appears more diminished in reality. Unimaginably wealthy due to a lucrative NFL career, he narrates a podcast wherever he is – bed, the car, the kitchen table, that charts where he is in life and how badly he wants to get back to where he was. After an auto accident that was entirely his fault, he’s sentenced to 300 hours of community service back in the hood where he came up.

While cleaning parks in Long Beach he stumbles across a struggling Pop Warner football team unable to keep a coach and losing every game badly. He takes it upon himself to coach these kids to greatness, partly to fulfill his community service in a less embarrassing way, but also to impress former girlfriend Cherise (Tiki Sumpter), the mother of a player who needs to be reeled in, reminiscent of the plot to The Mighty Ducks (1992). Clingy hanger-on Kareem (Mike Epps) latches on to this potentially successful venture for clout and a place to sleep while providing comic relief.

The story is a build-up to the season-ending championship where Jaysen’s team has to square off against the professional rival and outspoken critic, Chip Collins (Andrew Schulz), and his large, likely over-aged team, The Colonels for the championship.

Jaycen is able to relate to each player on a level they can understand giving them confidence and level-headed advice, and in time, he begins to see how his own fame and self-importance is rubbing off in detrimental ways onto his impressionable players.

The UnderDoggs is inappropriate for everyone. EVERYBODY SWEARS, and while it’s initially worth a surprised chuckle, it wears thin fast. This isn’t the place for social commentary about the upbringing of America’s marginalized youth in urban areas, but if The UnderDoggs is a reflection of common vernacular among pre-teens, we’re in trouble. I understand this is a mini-commercial for the Snoop Youth Football League that Snoop Dogg himself launched in 2005, and is heavily involved in, BUT I’m not sure this is entirely the spotlight it wants. A competent writer-director can portray urban struggles with less offensive language. I’m all for keeping it real, but this level of realness is a major turn-off.

This needs to be said – Snoop Dogg was the most surprising thing about The UnderDoggs. I know he’s playing a version of himself, but unlike other celebrity turns in more successful movies, he feels authentic. He’s a natural storyteller, made obvious by his own success as a rapper and producer, and his delivery, while peppered with creative expletives, is rhythmic. I’d really like to see him try his hand at dialog that won’t sound like a test for the Emergency Broadcasting System if it ever aired on network television.

Despite the language, which is honestly The UnderDogg’s only drawback, this is a really heartfelt movie I wish I could recommend more. It’s emotional in all of the right parts without being pandering, and its message is important to its target audience. Unfortunately, it removes itself from any meaningful conversation by being excessively foul-mouthed and its opening disclaimer that kids do it anyway is hardly an excuse.

Maybe “teach your kids better” should have been one of the core messages.

The UnderDoggs (2024) is rated R for swears (like a f-ton), lots of oui’d, underage drinking, and some sexual references that actually seem mild compared to the language.

The UnderDoggs premiers on Primwer Video January 26, 2024

The UnderDoggs is streaming now on the following services:
Movie Reelist Contributor: MontiLee Stormer
MontiLee Stormer is a writer of horror, dark and urban fantasy. She’s also is a troublemaker, concocting acts of mayhem and despair for her own selfish pleasure. An avid movie watcher, she prefers horror but will see just about anything if you're buying. Poltergeist (1982) is her favorite movie and she actively hates The Shining (1980) due to its racism, misogyny, the butchering of the source material. She could host a TEDtalk on this single subject. Writing about herself in the third person is just a bonus.

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