ZERO STARS/**** Image A Sound A Extras B-
starring Jim Belushi, Peter Dinklage, John Slattery, Patrick Warburton
screenplay by Adam Rifkin and Joe Piscatella & Craig A. Williams
directed by Frederik Du Chau
by Bill Chambers Whereas the gigantic Underdog balloon that hovers over New York City during the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade is at least conceptually interesting (American commerce's idea of a Stalin statue), Underdog, Disney's charmless live-action resurrection of the beloved super-mutt, has no subtext, just a bunch of mercenary actors and technicians who can barely disguise their contempt for the film's screenplay, which lazily embellishes the extraordinary-pet genre with scatology while weaving a maddeningly derelict patchwork of recycled tropes like the grieving widower/orphan, the unattainable hottie, and the disgraced cop. It's fair to say I hate Underdog, but I hate it because it doesn't even have the will to finish what it starts. Only two things about it are kind of fascinating, and only then from a largely extratextual standpoint. The first is that in taking the title character out of the cartoon realm, the digitally-manipulated slapstick pratfalls and clumsy landings look grotesquely painful for the beagle(s) playing Underdog. They should've gone the Scooby-Doo route and fashioned a 3-D likeness of the 2-D prototype, since the sight of man's best friend hurtling through panes of glass really has no intrinsic comic value.