When the brief and concise rapper-turned-actor Snoop Dogg is requested to make an appearance in a movie, he typically portrays himself or a similar version – and this holds true once again in this flavorful yet ultimately heartwarming sports film. There’s even a clever comparison between the character Snoop portrays and his real-life efforts in creating a youth American football league. While his acting abilities may be somewhat limited, there’s no denying Snoop’s noticeable onscreen charm and aptitude for comedic timing, which director Charles Stone III expertly utilizes.
The story, which has been told time and time again – or at least since the 1976 film The Bad News Bears – follows Snoop as JJ, a former professional football player who was once celebrated but ultimately had a mediocre career and no loyalty to any one team. Struggling to revive his career as a sports commentator, JJ hits rock bottom after causing a car accident and is sentenced by an old acquaintance, a judge, to 30 days of community service in Long Beach, California. He is tasked with picking up dog waste in a city park. While there, JJ runs into Cerise (Tika Sumpter), his high school girlfriend who is now a hard-working single mother trying to support her son Tre (played by Jonigan Booth, a great find) who is on a struggling little league team. In a flash, JJ decides to coach the team, hoping to turn them into a viral success story that he can promote on his own podcast and use to improve his own career opportunities.
The subsequent events unfold as expected, with a few surprising plays that defy expectations. The young cast, allowed to use strong language, clearly enjoy themselves, and it’s refreshing to see a female character (Kyla Davila) break up the predominantly male dynamic and play a crucial role in the team’s eventual success. Comedian Andrew Schultz also shines as JJ’s rival coach for the Underdoggs’ top competitors. His character’s humor is distinct, and it wouldn’t be surprising if he improvised much of his material, such as when he encourages the team to thank God for the invention of plastic helmets, which can potentially cause brain damage to opposing players.