When it comes to entertainment, there’s not a corner of the industry Snoop Dogg hasn’t touched. He’s recorded 19 studio albums, appeared in dozens of movies and TV series and has an adorable friendship with Martha Stewart. There’s really nothing Snoop could do that would surprise us (except that time he implied he’d stopped smoking weed), and given his love for sports, the only shocking thing about The Underdoggs is that it’s taken this long to give him the lead role in a sports comedy. Critics have seen the movie, which can be streamed with an Amazon Prime subscription starting January 26, so let’s see what they’re saying.
Snoop Dogg plays Jaycen Jennings in The Underdoggs, a former NFL player who agrees to coach a youth football team while doing community service after a bad accident. It’s a premise we’ve seen before in epic underdog sports movies like The Bad News Bears and The Mighty Ducks, so how does the D-O-Double G fit into the genre? Nate Adams of The Only Critic grades the movie a D+, saying it lacks the charm and comedy of those that came before it. In the critic’s words:
Nevermind the football part, this movie isn’t interested in showing how teams overcome adversity with good leadership and, frankly, it’s because Dogg doesn’t radiate the type of crass, leading man warmth of past cinematic coaches (Walter Matthau, Emilo Estavez, or Keanu Reeves) nor does the script, inspired by Dogg’s real life football league, allow him the platform to display genuine emotion. Most of the football sequences are spliced into speedy montages that fail to elevate the film’s stakes and it doesn’t help Dogg’s character, and the way he portrays it, seems lost on autopilot.
Alex Maidy of JoBlo rates it a “Below Average” 5 out of 10, saying that the film has the hallmarks of a classic sports movie, but all the cliches as well, and the result is too generic and profane to be inspirational. Maidy writes:
There is certainly ambition to tell a feel-good story here, but it is stunted by the unnecessary profanity that earned this film its R rating. Snoop plays a lot of himself as Two Js, including unrelenting swearing and weed smoking. While the drugs and kids don’t mix on screen, the swearing loses its charm pretty quickly and cannot hide the weak script beneath it.
Chase Hutchinson of Collider gives The Underdogs a 3 out of 10, saying there are some funny moments, but the comedy is repetitive, the young football team’s characters are underdeveloped, and there’s nothing unique enough to make it memorable. Hutchinson continues:
The Underdoggs is not bad enough to warrant some sort of scorching takedown, but that doesn’t mean it is any good either. Where other sports comedies were then imitated, this one is destined to be forgotten. By the time it arrives at the big climactic game, there is just nothing left in the tank. There is a reasonably funny musical moment where the team gets amped up for one final comeback, but it isn’t enough to make up for the tiresome way everything else plays out. It certainly is a throwback, but it not only stops far short of being a comedy touchdown, it barely feels like it brings anything new to the field.
Eric Henderson of Slant rates it 2 out of 4 stars, saying the project leans into its rude humor to heighten the standard-issue script, and if nothing else, it brings to light Snoop’s real-life contribution to the kids. Henderson points out:
Is any of this fresh even by the standards of [director Charles Stone III’s] own filmography? Not really, but as the film’s closing title card points out, Snoop Dogg in real life has been mentoring youth football teams for nearly two decades now, molding hundreds and hundreds of underprivileged kids. If nothing else, The Underdoggs is a heartfelt chance to allow Snoop to take that bow.
Tessa Smith of Mama’s Geeky rates it just a 2.5 out of 5 but praises Snoop Dogg as the perfect casting choice, as well as the hilarious child actors. The movie delivers laugh-out-loud humor while simultaneously tugging the heartstrings, Smith says, writing:
Overall, The Underdoggs is sure to surprise most viewers. That isn’t to say it doesn’t look fun, because it does. However, there is no way to prepare how this film is simultaneously hilarious, inspiring, and emotional. While parts of it are predictable, it has a few surprises in store for the audience. When it comes to the football aspect of the movie, it is easy to root for this team of underdogs. Suddenly viewers will find themselves invested in the outcome of the games. That said, The Underdoggs isn’t just for those that love a sports movie, there is so much heart weaved into the story that it truly has something for everyone.
The critics seem to agree The Underdoggs plays out like your typical underdog sports movie, and not even the R-rating is enough to make it memorable. However, if you like Snoop Dogg and this genre of film, this might be a can’t-miss option for you, as the above assessments all admitted to finding some amusement in the performances. You can catch this one starting Friday, January 26, on Amazon Prime Video, and be sure to check out our 2024 movie release calendar to see what else is coming soon.