The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Film Reviews - DON­ALD CLARKE

UN­DER­DOG Di­rected by Fred­erik Du Chau. Star­ring Alex Neu­berger, Peter Din­klage, Pa­trick War­bur­ton, James Belushi, voices of Ja­son Lee, Amy Adams PG cert, gen re­lease, 84 min

HERE is a use­ful motto for to­day’s busy pro­duc­tion ex­ec­u­tives: “Just be­cause you can, doesn’t mean you have to.”

Un­der­dog was once an en­joy­ably rudi­men­tary car­toon con­cern­ing a bea­gle who solved crimes. He wore a cape, talked in rhyme and did all the other things ge­net­i­cally mu­tated do­mes­tic pets like to do. Now we have a ver­sion for the 21st cen­tury and – just be­cause they can – the film-mak­ers have set the dig­i­tal wiz­ards the task of mak­ing a real bea­gle speak.

It’s so much more re­al­is­tic, you see. If a cape-wear­ing mutt were to launch him­self on Amer­ica’s hood­lums then this is what he would ac­tu­ally look like. Car­toons are silly. This is real life.

Oh, please. If I want verisimil­i­tude from my talk­ing bea­gle movie I’ll ask Ken Loach to make it.

Un­der­dog gives new mean­ing to the word “per­func­tory”. The script may be lazy and the spe­cial ef­fects rou­tine, but the film does, at least, boast a pair of ex­cel­lent vil­lains in loony doc Peter Din­klage and bum­bling hench­man Pa­trick War­bur­ton. Per­fectly com­ple­men­tary – the cack­ling Din­klage is a lit­tle per­son, the lugubri­ous War­bur­ton is enor­mous – th­ese fine ac­tors should be re­united as soon as pos­si­ble (though not, please, in Un­der­dog 2).

You’ll be­lieve a bea­gle can fly . . .

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