“Outsiders” / “The Underdoggs”
Genre: sports comedy
Director: Charles Stone III
Starring: Snoop Dogg, Tika Sumpter, Mike Epps, Andrew Schultz, George Lopez, Kal Penn
Premiere: Prime Video
Release Year: 2024
Jason “Jay Jay” Jennings, once a promising American football star, is now a conceited and self-absorbed individual, with his glory days far behind him. Due to his tarnished reputation, Jennings finds no place even as a sports expert on television programs. Even Viktor Leonenko, the former forward of Kyiv’s “Dynamo,” once succumbed to this peak, and fans are well aware of the challenging character of the ex-footballer.
After Jay Jay gets involved in an unpleasant car accident, the court orders him to perform community service. Instead of his dreamed-of moments on television, the protagonist is forced to don an orange vest, sling a bag of dog poop bags over his shoulder, and hit the streets to make the world cleaner.
On one of the sports fields, Jennings notices a children’s American football team that has just lost its coach. Without much enthusiasm, the former athlete decides to take on the role of coach, unaware that this mission will be fateful not only for the mischievous kids but also for the hapless janitor.
A comedy with Snoop Dogg and an R rating is already a comprehensive description for the film. However, there is nothing here that one might expect from an adult movie labeled “comedy with Snoop Dogg.”
The extravagant rapper limits himself to a few slip-ups, and the characters deliver a set of standard expletives, and that’s about it. No parties with half-naked girls in slow motion, no flaunting with money guns, or whatever is currently trendy among cool guys on the West Coast.
On the contrary, “The Underdoggs” is not about the brutal but the light, about goodness itself. It is a very charming, almost childlike story. Of course, within the quite obvious worldview of Snoop Dogg and the local authors, it still promotes family values, advocates for self-sacrifice, restraining one’s own arrogance, and humane treatment of others. Moreover, appropriately, the film directly references Disney’s “The Mighty Ducks” (1992) with Emilio Estevez.
It’s a pity that this good initiative is based on blatantly typical genre tropes, sprinkled with a bit of dull humor. Snoop Dogg’s stylish looks evoke a more powerful response than weak jokes, mostly built on profanity, and occasionally, a raised middle finger.
It must be understood that the comedic component of this project offers a drunken children’s party with obligatory pool urination, an association of a football with a woman’s chest, and a corresponding nickname for one of the kids – Titties. The humor here, crafted by the creators, is mostly juvenile and extremely lazy. In general, this epithet eloquently characterizes the entire film: a lazy script, its lazy implementation on the screen, and relaxed execution.
Mike Epps plays a complete idiot, as if he discovered paradise on Earth. Kel Penn, a star of the youth franchise “Harold & Kumar,” a bit softened, grew a beard, and that’s all that can be said about his participation in the film. As for the others, including child actors, there is not much to say.
It is known that Snoop Dogg founded a youth football league in Los Angeles and is involved in organizing sports tournaments. But it’s better if this charitable initiative is limited to organizing youth championships and does not extend to cinema, as nothing good came out of it.
It’s comforting that the plot doesn’t stoop to the level of trashy comedies with utterly lowbrow humor. However, this tiny victory over tastelessness looks very modest against the backdrop of an entirely secondary, overly lazy material.
“The Underdoggs” is precisely the case where the R rating works against, rather than in favor. It allows the creators to rely on primitive humor without the slightest imagination, but today, a well-picked profanity won’t entertain anyone.