When I saw the trailer for this film, I was certainly intrigued. The film stars Snoop Dogg and he is certainly a character. The film definitely looked like it was meant to be funny. Once I watched the movie, I found it fun, willing to laugh at itself, changed up some of the existing tropes but most of all, Snoop Dogg inspires, just by being himself.
The Underdoggs is a sports comedy film directed by Charles Stone III and written by Danny Segal and Isaac Schamis. In the movie, Snoop Dogg (who also pitched the idea for the film) stars as Jaycen Jennings, a former NFL football player who has alienated everyone who ever knew him. No one wants to work with him because of his out of control antics in the past and he’s now trying to relaunch his career. After an accident, he’s assigned community service in his old neighborhood. He runs into an old girlfriend, Cherise (Tika Sumpter) and her son who is playing in a youth football team. Jaycen wants to win her over so he agrees to coach the team. He ends up getting advice from his old coach, Feis (George Lopez) and help from a friend, Kareem (Mike Epps). Jaycen learns to let go of his ego and connects with his young players, even as they vie with his nemesis, Chip Collins (Andrew Schulz). But will he be able to lead the young players to victory?
For me, what makes this film so much fun and entertaining are two big elements: Snoop Dogg and the comedy. The film doesn’t take itself seriously at all and leans into its audience and Snoop Dogg’s fans, knowing that those fans will appreciate commentary on smoking weed and references to popular films like Harold and Kumar. The movie offers plenty of commentary on football players and those who try to fake it. The film had me laughing from the introduction with a disclaimer about the language in the movie. There is a ton of cursing so this is not a movie for the straightlaced.
Part of what makes it so funny is that they play with and reference the tropes like The Mighty Ducks and other films like it. Even so, they change things up enough that the often out of control and wild scenarios will make you laugh out loud. There are moments like Jaycen using a Game of Thrones reference to encourage one of the young players or the nicknames that the players get like Fruit Loop, with some of the names not being anywhere near as polite as that one. And that lack of politeness and the language is what makes the movie so fun and hilarious. There are also moments with Kareem that are deeply funny, like when he holds up Jaycen at gunpoint or when he unfollows his social media.
Snoop Dogg plays a character that is in many ways a stereotype but he makes the movie his own. Snoop Dogg inspires as Jaycen, his interactions with his players and with Tika Sumpter pulling the character into new realizations and adding to both the comedy and the drama. Tika Sumpter is dynamite as Cherise. She is wise and loving as a mother to her son but she is strong and fearless when confronting Jaycen. Mike Epps is hilarious as Kareem, stealing every scene he’s in. George Lopez isn’t in a lot of the movie but is excellent as Coach Feis. And each of the young actors playing the youth football team excel at both the comedy but also the dramatic moments in the film.
What keeps this film from being a complete win is that it is very predictable and most of the scenes turn out just as expected. While they do play with the tropes, many times they simply highlight the expectation but don’t change it around at all. The film is heartwarming but that’s what I would expect for a movie about redemption and coaching a youth football team. But it does embrace the comedy and it does twists on the ideas that are funny and sometimes unexpected, especially the ending of the movie. And while it is predictable, I love the connection between Jaycen and the team along with the lessons his character learns along the way. It also gives some great commentary on why youth programs like the one in the movie are necessary and needed in urban areas like the one in the movie.
If you love Snoop Dogg and find him inspiring, especially his work with youth football programs, I would suggest checking out this film. It is fun, entertaining, heartwarming, and most of all, Snoop Dogg inspires as Jaycen Jennings. The film laughs at itself, emphasizes family and changes the expected elements enough to offer something slightly different. The connections are heartwarming and the young actors do an excellent job with their performances. The language is something to watch out for but if you’re going to watch Snoop Dogg, you likely already know that. It’s not perfect but this movie did make me laugh.
3.5 footballs out of 5.