RATING: I have an invention that can- FOOTBALL! FOOTBALL! FOOTBALL!
The heart of ‘Underdogs’ is a charming story. It’s about a father who works hard for his family, yet finds time to invent a new type of heater that could pull them out of the lower middle class. This poor man gets ass plowed by his vindictive boss when he goes to another company to sell his product. The resulting fallout will decide whether the family will end up eating caviar with their dinner, or dollar ravioli out of a can.
Sounds like a decent story about an underdog, right? The little guy stands against his corporate overlords, giving them the chance to make a large profit and telling them to screw after they told him no in the first place. I like it! I’d watch that movie! I don’t know much about patents or engineering, but the story about the plight of the people involved will keep my eyes glued to the screen.
Too bad the filmmakers didn’t give a shit about story, developed characters, or making a decent movie. The whole time I’m watching this movie, I’m picturing the conversation during the pitch when the B-Plot is brought up. I kept imagining someone saying “What’s all this faggy garbage? Heaters? Why the fuck cares about heaters?!? The only thing cold in my house is my wife’s ice box! That’s her pussy son! Tell ya what, throw in some football and we’ll make this thing happen!”
The football story is so uninteresting that the film goes out of its way to make it more of a distraction than an actual story. It’s not about a cross team rivalry, since that doesn’t happen until the end and only because a side plot required it, it’s not a Romeo and Juliet story since there’s nothing keeping the two apart (one shoehorned plot point aside, but that barely counts since it’s resolved with hand waving so impressive, it would put every Las Vegas magician out of work), it’s not even a story about underdogs! They’re a competent team that just needed a motivational speech and a few montages to make themselves not suck. The players have no quirks about them that hinder the team with the sole exception that they don’t win. There’s absolutely NO growth for them throughout the whole goddamn movie.
That’s the biggest problem throughout; there’s no growth. The coach (D. B. Sweeney) comes off as a non-funny version of Bill Burr, forcing the team to run drills whenever they fuck up, despite this doing nothing. Isn’t that the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results? That’s what I’d call it considering the most this guy does is pick up a bar skank and take all the credit for the team’s work. The big speech that turns the team around doesn’t even come from him, it comes from the fucking quarterback!
Every other problem of the movie is either solved a scene or two later, or explained by ‘football’. Let me paraphrase several key scenes that lead to prominent plot points or major character motivations.
“I don’t know about this. This isn’t how things are nowadays.” FOOTBALL! “Hmm, that is a compelling argument…”
Final Thoughts: This film wants to be more than what it is. It has the basic (VERY basic) plot of the small town sports film, but none of the drama or tension that makes these films interesting. You could say that it’s meant to introduce this kind of story to a younger generation, but there are more recent examples that are much better, AND it’s not like the older shit has aged poorly (the 90s seem so long ago, don’t they?). Why the fuck would you want to put up with the bullshit of ‘Underdogs’ when you could watch ‘Rudy’ or ‘Remember the Titans”? If you really think that ‘Underdogs’ is a better option for your kids than those films, then here’s the next decision you should make as a parent: put a gun in your mouth and spread your bad choices across the wall behind you rather than the minds of the next generation.
All the problems with this movie can be summed up by its IMDB description: ‘Set in rural Ohio, the birthplace of football, UNDERDOGS is the story of a small-town high school football team destined to play their cross-town rival, a perennial powerhouse, while standing up for an entire community’. As a whole, it sounds fine, but if you look a the pieces, it’s all fucked up.
Rural Ohio? I’ve driven through Ohio and there’s not a goddamn thing there, yet this town seems to be in the one part that could be considered suburbia. Maybe its rural, but I’m not buying it.
Birthplace of football? WRONG! The rules for modern football were developed from English games like rugby around 1890 by Harvard and Yale, which are in Massachusetts and Connecticut. The first professional player, deemed so for being paid $500 to play (adjusted for inflation, that’s roughly 10,000 handjobs in modern dollars) was the christening of football as a legitimate sport, and he played for a Pennsylvania team, in Pennsylvania, against Yale! I know this shit and I don’t even like football!
Destined to play their cross-town rivals? Nope, it was a ploy by a businessman. Stand up for the community? Nope, the community used them as a symbol for the struggle of the B-Plot; the team didn’t do shit.
You know what? I was charmed by some of this movie, but I have to stop here. Looking past the surface of this shallow movie is just angering me. Take that away from this review. If you’re willing to see ‘Underdogs’ take it at face value and move the fuck on.