American Underdog appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.39:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This turned into a solid image.
The film offered solid clarity. Virtually no softness materialized, so definition was positive and precise.
No issues with jagged edges or shimmering appeared, and I saw no edge haloes. Source flaws failed to mar the presentation.
The film opted for a palette with a definite teal and amber tint. Within those parameters, the colors seemed fine.
Blacks were pretty deep and tight, while shadows appeared positive, with only a little opacity on occasion. Overall, the film provided appealing picture quality.
Downconverted to Dolby TrueHD 7.1, the Dolby Atmos soundtrack suited the movie but won't win any awards. The soundstage appeared nicely broad at the appropriate times and could be moderately engulfing on occasion. It's a talky little film, so the focus was mainly up front, but the audio expanded when necessary.
This occurred mostly via music and environmental ambience – especially in terms of score and songs, as those used the various speakers well. Football games and a few sequences with intense weather added some range as well.
Sound quality seemed fine. Dialogue always appeared crisp and natural, and I had no trouble understanding it. The score was warm and distinctive.
Effects also seemed realistic and adequate for the tasks at hand. Underdog won't be anyone's demo track, but the mix worked well for the film.
The disc comes with a mix of extras, and we open with an audio commentary from directors Andrew and Jon Erwin and producer Kevin Downes. All three sit together for a running, screen-specific look at story/characters, facts and fiction, cast and performances, the impact of COVID on the production, sets and locations, cinematography and effects, editing, music and connected topics.
While we get some useful nuggets about the film, these come with an awful lot of happy talk, as the three participants frequently relate praise for all involved and everything about the movie. We find enough quality material to make the track decent, but I could really live without all the fluffiness.
A mix of featurettes follow, and Inspired lasts 16 minutes, eight seconds. It offers comments from the Erwins, executive produces Kurt and Brenda Warner, former coach Dick Vermeil, and actors Zachary Levi, Anna Paquin, and Dennis Quaid.
“Inspired” examines cast and performances. Most of this winds up as happy talk about the actors.
Making the Cut spans 13 minutes, 45 seconds and involves the Erwins as well as editor Sean Anderson.
“Cut” views the editing process and works better than usual, mainly because it involves discussion of the test audience process. This winds up as a solid piece.
With A Coach’s Faith, we find a 30-minute, 48-second conversation between SNL actor Heidi Gardner and former Coach Dick Vermeil. They look at aspects of his life and career as well as his thoughts about Underdog.
Gardner seems like an odd choice, but she explains that her love of football got her the gig. She tosses softball questions at Vermeil, so don’t expect much, but the program offers a decent look at Vermeil’s experiences.
New to the Scene fills six minutes, 10 seconds and involves Levi, Brenda Warner, the Erwins, Downes, Paquin, and actor Hayden Zaller.
“Scene” looks at the involvement of young Zaller. He seems like a lovely kid but “Scene” never gives us much in terms of insights.
Next comes Meet the Champion, a 14-minute, 49-second reel that features a short chat between Kurt Warner and Coach Steve Mariucci. It then includes notes from Vermeil, Downes and the Erwins.
A feature that ran after “previews” of Underdog, we get some basics but the package feels superficial. In particular, the part with Warner and Mariucci disappoints given the latter’s small but pivotal role in Warner’s journey.
Behind the Game runs eight minutes, 13 seconds and features with the Erwins, Kurt and Brenda Warner, Levi and Paquin. They discuss aspects of the shoot, with an emphasis on the football scenes in this decent but often fluffy piece.
Lastly, Behind the Story lasts three minutes, 39 seconds and brings material from Kurt and Brenda Warner, the Erwins, Downes, Levi, Quaid and Paquin. It provides a general story overview and manages nothing more than promotional puffery.
11 Deleted Scenes occupy a total of 17 minutes, 44 seconds. Most of these offer minor character expansions, though some seem moderately valuable, like a longer look at adolescent Kurt, and a glimpse of his absentee dad.
Do any of these seem important? No, but fans should enjoy them.
We can view these with or without commentary from Andrew Erwin. He tells us background for the sequences and why they didn’t make the cut, so he adds positive notes.
In addition to the film’s trailer, we get previews under Also from Lionsgate. It brings ads for The Unbreakable Boy and The Jesus Music.
How can an inspirational tale seem as uninspired as American Underdog? Despite good source material, the movie suffers from actors too old for their roles and a wholesale embrace of banal clichés, without an original moment to be found. The Blu-ray boasts very good picture and audio along with a surprisingly long roster of bonus materials. This turns into a dull excuse for a character movie.