Everyone loves an underdog story, and Snoop Dogg is bringing us the ultimate tale. In his new film The Underdoggs, Snoop plays Jaycen “Two Js” Jennings, a washed-up ex-professional football star whose reckless behavior caused him to hit rock bottom. 

In the film, “Jennings is sentenced to community service coaching the Underdoggs, an unruly pee-wee football team from his hometown of Long Beach, California,” explains the press release from Amazon and MGM Studios. Jennings initially sees coaching opportunity as a way to rebuild his public image, but along the way, he reconnects to his past and rediscovers his love for the game. 

Along with Snoop, The Underdoggs features a cast that includes Tika Sumpter, Mike Epps, Kal Penn, and George Lopez. 

The Underdoggs is directed by Charles Stone III (Drumline, Paid In Full) and produced by Kenya Barris. Danny Segal & Isaac Schamis are listed as writers on the film. 

In real life, Snoop has a long track record in youth sports. In 2005, he launched the Snoop Youth Football League, a non-profit organization that provides athletic opportunities to inner-city youth. The league consists of 12 teams representing various cities in California. 

His love for coaching was highlighted in the 2018 documentary series, Coach Snoop

The rapper’s on-the-field training with kids was one of the main reasons Stone knew the movie would be a hit.

“Telling a story with children, especially cussing children, intrigued me,” he told Blavity’s Shadow and Act in a recent interview. “The idea that the actions of these kids would challenge the Snoop character, this adult who thinks he’s got it all figured out, and for him to learn something, always gets me choked up. You see him witness these kids embracing each other and comforting each other, even in a moment of great loss.”

While Jennings certainly made an impression on the foul-mouth players to bring them together as a team, Stone said the inspiration of being a role model was a two-way street.

“Role models are hugely important, and what I love about the Underdoggs is that there are instances where the kids are the role model for Two J’s and then Two J’s is a role model for these kids,” Stone said.

Jennings’ reluctance to lead the team was overcome by a visit to his role model, Coach Feis, played by George Lopez. Gaining indirect but much-needed advice from the man who helped him along his football journey was enough to make him dig deep within himself.

“I love that the truth or the spirit of being a mentor, or being a role model, pushes through the resistance of that situation where he didn’t want to be a role model for these kids, but it didn’t matter. These kids were provoking him on such a level and triggering him that he ended up connecting to them and almost indirectly inspiring them until suddenly, he’s embracing them,” Stone said.

The 300 hours of community service that landed Jennings on the football field were handed down by a judge (Kandi Burruss) and enforced by this agent, Ryan Kauffman, played by Kal Penn.

Penn said he “loosely based” his character on one of his past agents who “would say anything to be liked,” but ultimately, he did care about his clients.

He noted that he wanted to ensure his character’s “actions and choices were authentic to whatever choices Snoop’s character would make.” 

Penn’s character was the catalyst for Jennings’ ultimate act of loyalty to the Underdoggs when he was faced with choosing a career-changing opportunity or showing loyalty to his newfound family. 

” I think there’s always that choice of you versus the actor and the business, and you have to choose what works for you,” Penn said. “When I look back, is it that I should have done that movie, or should I have been there for my family? I can’t imagine feeling like I should have been there for family at a particular time, but chose to do something else.”

Sumpter’s character, Cherisse, is the long-lost love interest Jennings. As the mother of the team’s star player, she perfectly balances Jennings’ selfish ways. 

The former athlete, who previously stepped into a coaching role with her award-winning film The Nomads, celebrated the movie’s inspiring story of overcoming limitations. 

“I really do believe if you could see it, you could be it, but if you don’t know it, you don’t know that you can even be that thing,” she told Blavity. 

The actress recalled the spark of inspiration from her first international trip that proved to her that “the world was bigger than her block.”

“When you can imagine yourself bigger than where you live, then you can imagine yourself as anything you want it to be. So I just think that’s important for especially kids to see,” Sumpter said. “Because I think kids, especially nowadays, need inspiration. They need hope. They need happiness and, joy, and fun. Things could just be fun, you know? And I love being that for them, whatever that means.”

While Snoop and his younger co-stars’ colorful language landed the film in the “rated R” category, The Underdoggs is ultimately about overcoming obstacles and how one can become a role model or inspiration in unexpected places. 

In addition to Snoop and Barris, Mychelle Deschamps, Jonathan Glickman, and Constance Schwartz-Morini are listed as producers. 

The film is now streaming on Prime Video.