Home > Reviews > UNDERDOG – Randy Edelman

UNDERDOG – Randy Edelman

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

All you really need to know about Underdog is that it’s about a canine super-hero voiced by Jason Lee, based on an animated cartoon series which debuted in 1964. That one line plot description gives you ample opportunity to decide what Frederik Du Chau’s film is all about – and whether it’s a worthwhile investment of time to seek it out. Despite a fairly impressive supporting cast that includes Amy Adams, Brad Garrett, James Belushi and Peter Dinklage, the film was a comparative commercial failure; this lack of financial success also ultimately led to the mainstream cancellation of the planned soundtrack CD, which would have featured Randy Edelman’s original score.

Ultimately, Edelman’s music would be released as a digital download exclusive – which is probably a the best it could hope for, because Underdog is a disappointing and generally sub-standard score. In the mid-to-late 1990s and early 2000s, Randy Edelman was regularly writing a half dozen scores per year. In recent years, however, his highly personal synth-orchestra style seems to have gone out of fashion somewhat, but despite this Underdog is an Edelman score through and through, occasionally echoing the sound (but never capturing the spirit) of some of his most famous scores, including Dragonheart and Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story.

The main Underdog fanfare – a pseudo-heroic brass motif which appears at the end of “Simon’s Lab & Experiment” and later in “Breaking News As Our Tale Continues”, “Costume Change”, “A Stirring First Date” and others – is quite enjoyable in itself, and has a flighty refrain, but is somewhat inconsequential as super hero themes go. The action music, such as it is, tends to be of the ‘light-hearted caper’ variety, while the more emotional scenes (“Riff Raff Meets Shoeshine”, “Backyard Argument”, “Excuse Me, Did You Talk?”, “Family Discussion”) feature sensitive piano and woodwind solos and acoustic guitars.

The rest of the time, there’s a lot of insubstantial mickey-mousing and low-key suspense music which neither piques the interest nor stimulates the interest. Underdog isn’t a bad score per se – it just doesn’t have anything especially noteworthy to say, and I don’t think you can blame that on the film because movies with fewer artistic ambitions than Underdog have often elicited surprisingly accomplished scores. Maybe Randy Edelman’s style of composing has simply passed out of fashion.

Rating: **½

Track Listing:

  • Underdog Raps (performed by Kyle Massey) (2:36)
  • Sadly Unemployed (2:22)
  • Simon’s Lab & Experiment (4:23)
  • Riff Raff Meets Shoeshine (2:23)
  • Backyard Argument (0:49)
  • Trashing the Diggs (1:37)
  • Excuse Me, Did You Talk? (2:16)
  • Out In Traffic (1:34)
  • Family Discussion (1:49)
  • All American Pastime (1:55)
  • Breaking News As Our Tale Continues (1:27)
  • Costume Change (1:39)
  • A Stirring First Date (2:12)
  • Bonding Buddies (1:18)
  • Coming Together (6:21)
  • Underdog Saves The Day (3:24)
  • Our Shining Hero/Finale (1:36)

Running Time: 39 minutes 42 seconds

Hollywood Records Digital Download (2007)

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