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  • Writer's pictureRob Ervin

Rob Reviews "The UnderDoggs"

There is a term in the film industry called “critic proof,” which are films that a studio puts out that screens for the literal definition of “word of mouth” because they know that it is for a specific demographic which is not necessarily that of a number of those who evaluate film even for a pseudo-living.  Case in point here is Charles Stone III’s The UnderDoggs.

 

The only way to really get the gist of this film is simply to say Jaycen Jennings (Snoop Dogg) is a long-ago retired professional football player that still thinks he is in his prime (no pun intended here; you’ll understand why in a bit). After he gets himself in a bind, he is sentenced to community service in Long Beach (where there is apparently a lot of drama for him), he winds up coaching his hometown’s Pop Warner football team, FULL of instability on every level (also fueled by the appearance of his high school girlfriend, played by Tika Sumpter).  He reluctantly allows childhood friend Kareem (Mike Epps) to join him as an unofficial assistant coach, and off we go in a journey of self-discovery and the value of mentorship. 

 

Think The Bad News Bears where even those kids might go “this is as bit much,” and you are pretty much there.  Maybe it’s Old Man Rob kicking in here, but this script goes farther than it should when it comes to earning its “R” rating.  Honestly, the “disclaimer” that plays at the front of The UnderDoggs establishes that in record time.  For those that think they should bring the kids to a feel-good movie about believing in yourself and putting in the work to achieve your goals, I would say that you wouldn’t be COMPLETELY wrong here, but there are films out there that might accomplish this with less risk of questions you don’t really want to answer afterwords.  Make no mistake: there is A LOT of crude, rude, and socially acceptable here, but that is also kind of the point.

 

Snoop is simply Snoop here alongside some cool “real world” cameos that keep the story moving, but this film is elevated by Epps going full Epps here.  It’s been a while since I saw him in anything memorable, but this film does that for him.  In most cases, him turning it up to eleven would be too much for the film around him, but here it fits right in.  Kal Penn is also here as his agent in a small but OK-for-me role as well as George Lopez as his high school coach who I think had more of a role that hit the cutting room floor based on a couple of moments that made me wonder what did what to where and when.

 

Wrapping things back around, The UnderDoggs is not the type of film that is going to rely on the community of film critics to get the business that it is shooting for, but it knows who it is aimed and goes full-bore towards that demographic.  From a critic standpoint, this is nowhere near a bad film because it is honestly entertaining; just make sure you truly understand what you are getting into here as it pertains to whom you watch it with as it hits Prime Video (there it is).

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