Posted on January 25, 2024 at 8:50 pmB-
|Lowest Recommended Age:
|Mature High Schooler
|Rated R for pervasive language, sexual references, drug use, and some underage drinking
|Constant very strong and vulgar language
|Marijuana and alcohol, including children getting drunk
|A theme of the movie
Normally, seeing kids use bad language does not make me laugh, not because I am offended but because it is just lazy. So I’m not proud of it, but I admit that “The Underdogs” made me laugh, not because kids use four-letter words or because star and producer Snoop Dogg does, but because it was about more than the shock value. No one will ever call Snoop an actor –he can barely focus on playing a character designed to be as much like his off-camera persona as possible — but he is an able performer and this basic underdog story benefits from being so evidently dear to his heart. We learn from end credits sequence that Snoop created a real-life football program for kids. And we learn from the pre-movie warning that the movie has strong language “that may not be suitable for children” and then goes on to say, in very colorful terms, to disregard that because kids who are not supposed to be watching this….stuff… curse more than the rest of us…..explitives. Those two bookends set the scene.
Snoop plays Jaycen, known as Two Js, a selfish and arrogant former star football player who now spends his days rattling around his gigantic mansion, smoking weed, and getting into trouble. A judge (Kandi Burruss) offers him community service coaching a kids’ football team and he refuses. He does not want anything to do with kid or, really anyone else. So he is given clean-up duty instead, with an orange vest and a pole for picking up dog poop.
And who should be at that location but a scrappy little team of, say it with me, underdogs. And, what a coincidence, who should be the mother of one of those kids but Jaycen’s high school girlfriend, Cherise (the always-appealing Tika Sumpter). She gives Jaycen something the judge did not, a reason to at least pretend to be someone who cares about something other than himself. It is still pretending, of course, but we all know where this is going, as do the characters, who have all seen “The Mighty Ducks” and probably countless other movies about scrappy underdog sports teams with reluctant coaches who grudgingly realize they want to to be the person the team needs them to be.
It’s no one’s idea of a classic, or even of being what you might call “good,” but it is an easy watch that stays out of its own way. Mike Epps shows up as Jaycen’s old friend, Kareem, a hustler and sometime carjacker, who moves in and talks his way into a spot as assistant coach. The kids on the team are the basic Smurf-types, each one getting one attribute — quiet, mouthy, butterfingers, etc. Snoop has good chemistry with the kids, though, and they are tougher than he is, which helps keep things moving. George Lopez shows up as Jaycen’s high school coach, reminding us of the difference it can make in a child’s life to have an adult who cares.
The film meanders back and forth between the kids’ underdog team formula and occasional meta-commentary on the classic tropes of the genre, but either way it is enjoying itself so much it is impossible not to go with it.
Parents should know that this movie is raunchy and vulgar. Characters, including children, use constant strong and graphic language with many insults. A child character’s nickname is a coarse word for a female body part. Characters smoke weed and drink and children get drunk and throw up. There is some potty humor. A character is careless with a gun but no one gets hurt.
Family discussion: What made Double J decide to take coaching seriously? What makes a good coach? Is it true that we want to see successful people fail?
If you like this, try: “The Mighty Ducks” and “The Bad News Bears”