American Underdog – Blu-ray Review

American Underdog

On the whole, American Underdog follows the template of other sports films of the genre, but Kurt Warner’s story is so compelling that you’re okay with it. To sum it up, Kurt Warner is an underdog who faces numerous setbacks but finally gets that one chance, one opportunity to seize everything he ever wanted. This story is something we’ve seen many, many times before. Does American Underdog reinvent the wheel and avoid all of the clichés? Absolutely not. However, as I said, Warner’s story is so unbelievable that you accept it.

The film is directed by Andrew and Jon Erwin, whose background is in Christian movies, but American Underdog isn’t the kind of Christian film that you’re used to. The religious connotations are there, but the screenwriters are able to subtly incorporate them into the movie without blatantly becoming too preachy. 

What ultimately makes American Underdog work is the film’s cast—who elevates the material. Zachary Levi is naturally charismatic and embodies the charm of Kurt Warner, but it’s his dramatic gravitas that makes him stand out. Alongside Warner’s journey is his wife, Brenda, and Anna Paquin captures the joys and frustrations of her role while offering some of the film’s most emotionally vulnerable moments. Together, the relationship between Kurt and Brenda is what drives the film. Levi and Paquin grounds their performances to showcase the kind of support, effort, and sacrifice that both Kurt and Brenda go through.

Overall, American Underdog isn’t particularly special or unique. We’ve seen it all before, and we’ll likely see its ilk many times more. Then again, none of that matters. There’s a reason why these movies still exist to this very day. Despite their familiarity, there will always be an audience for feel-good movies. Of course, having it connected with pro sports helps as well.

Movie Rating: 3.5/5 atoms

American Underdog - Zachary Levi

Video

American Underdog hits Blu-ray with a 1080p MPEG-AVC with a 2.39:1 aspect ratio. The brightness leaves the whites vibrant with no bloom in these areas whatsoever. At the same time, the black levels are deep with excellent shadow detail that provides nice clarity during night scenes or in sequences with low light. As for the colors, they’re a natural palette that ranges from the rustic hues of Iowa to the rich blues and yellows of the Rams’ colors. Not to mention, the colors are vibrant and pop off the screen. The picture clarity puts every fine detail on full display in 1080p. On the other hand, the picture clarity also emphasizes the fake backgrounds, and the green screen usage looks distracting.

Video Rating: 5/5 atoms

American Underdog - Dennis Quaid

Audio

American Underdog hits Blu-ray with a Dolby Atmos and a core 7.1 Dolby TrueHD Master Audio track. This review will reflect American Underdog‘s Dolby Atmos track. A Dolby Atmos mix for a sports drama such as this may seem like overkill, but it’s still a subtle but effective mix. First of all, the sound effects pan seamlessly from across the soundstage—allowing for a broad and deep soundstage. At the same time, the object placement is placed across the viewing area with pinpoint accuracy. The usage of the overhead channels is relegated primarily to fill in the atmospherics. Scenes such as Kurt, Brenda, and the kids getting stranded during a blizzard completely envelop you from all over. Finally, John Debney’s score complements the mix well, and the dialogue is crystal clear. Obviously, this isn’t an Atmos mix that will showcase your sound system, but it’s still an effective track.

Audio Rating: 4.5/5 atoms

American Underdog - Anna Paquin and Zachary Levi

Special Features

American Underdog‘s Blu-ray disc has the following special features on Blu-ray disc:

  • Audio Commentary with Directors Andrew and Jon Erwin and Producer Kevin Downes
  • Inspired
  • Making the Cut
  • A Coach’s Faith
  • New to the Scene: Hayden Zaller
  • Meet the Champion
  • Behind the Game
  • American Underdog: Behind the Story
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Theatrical Trailer
Features Assessment

As you can see, there is an impressive list of features in this Blu-ray release. Unfortunately, some of them start to overlap with other bonus features, and thus, bits and pieces of extras begin to appear in others. The audio commentary has the Erwin Brothers and Kevin Downes discussing all aspects of making the film. Downes has worked with the Erwin Brothers on nearly all of their movies, so the three of them have excellent chemistry on the commentary. “Inspired” has the filmmakers and cast discuss the film’s casting choices and their preparation for their roles.

“A Coach’s Faith” features Saturday Night Live cast member and football fan, Heidi Gardner, interviewing legendary coach Dick Vermeil. In this feature, he talks about his career as a coach, seeing himself portrayed on-screen twice (Invincible and American Underdog), and his relationship with Kurt Warner. “Hayden Zaller” takes a look at the blind young actor’s big-screen debut. “Meet the Champion” features former Green Bay Packers coach and current NFL Network analyst Steve Mariucci interviewing his fellow NFL Network analyst, Kurt Warner. “Behind the Game” primarily focuses on shooting the football game sequences. There are eleven deleted scenes in this release featuring optional commentary with co-director and co-editor Andrew Erwin.

Special Features Rating: 4/5 atoms


Overall, American Underdog is a predictable but inspirational movie that will hit all of the feel-good notes at the end. The video and audio presentations are stellar, and the special features are spectacular as well.

Overall Rating: 4.5/5 atoms

American Underdog is now available in stores on Blu-ray.

This Blu-ray was reviewed using a retail/advance copy/unit provided by Lionsgate Home Entertainment.

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