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Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story
2004 - PG-13 - 92 Mins.
Director: Rawson Marshall Thurber
Producer: Stuart Cornfeld
Written By: Rawson Marshall Thurber
Starring: Vince Vaughn, Christine Taylor, Ben Stiller, Rip Torn, Justin Long
Review by: Greg Ursic
   
Gym class, physical education, athletics. Call it what you will, it was an ongoing rite of passage where proto-Neanderthals – both teachers who were dismissed as drill instructors for being too treacherous and knuckle-dragging students who’d been shaving since grade 3 - humiliated the other 97% of the class. When rope climbing, rugby, and football weren’t enough to break your will, they dragged out the infamous red balls for a round of Dodgeball aka Murderball, the one sport that really separated the psychopaths from the boys.

Peter LaFleur (Vince Vaughn) believes in helping people, so when the misfits that patronize his ramshackle gym are late with their dues, he lets it slide. He discovers that being a prince has its price when the bank informs him that they’re going to foreclose if he can’t come up with $50,000 in thirty days. White Goodman, the man behind body obsessed Globo Gym offers to buy Peter out, but he cringes at the thought of Goodman and his Adonis clones leveling a neighborhood landmark. Just when things seem bleakest, Peter learns of an upcoming dodgeball tournament in Vegas. All he needs to do is get a team together in two days, qualify and win, even though none he hasn’t seen the business end of a dodgeball in 15 years. Sounds easy enough…

I’ve not been a big Ben Stiller fan in the past, but he won me over with his manic performance in 'Starsky and Hutch' (and he came across as a decent guy during the phone interview as well). While he displays the occasional comedic burst as White Goodman (his food addiction is both funny and disturbing), Stiller largely resurrects his brain dead character from 'Zoolander' and adds an anger management problem. Likewise, Vince Vaughn, who gets into the laid back mindset a little too well – missing are the snappy comebacks and cocky attitude that have energized his past performances. Thankfully the supporting cast are capable of picking up some of the slack.

Justin Long ('Jeepers Creepers') personifies awkwardness both mental and physical as the high school outcast who dreams of getting the cheerleader. As the walking embodiment of pathetic he is the king of our band of underdogs and a joy to root for. Christine Taylor (Stiller's real life wife) is amusing as Kate, the bank manager with a conscience called on to foreclose on the gym. She shines through in her scenes with Stiller, capturing the essence of disgust as he attempts to woo her.

Adding some punch to the mix is Rip Torn as five time former ADAA (American Dodgeball Association of America) champion Patches O’Houlihan, a crotchety demented old geezer who is determined to whip our troop into championship form. There is also a brief appearance by Hank Azaria as a young Patches extolling the ”virtues” of the sport in a 50’s film reel. Rounding out the mix is Jason Bateman as the clueless color commentator who has either taken one too many to the head, or is indulging in banned substances (maybe he’s a snowboarder).

'Dodgeball' is undoubtedly one of the stupidest films that you’re likely to see, and not only with regard to the subject matter, but its execution – think of the classic Simpsons short film “Football in the Groin” extended to full length. Thankfully the writers own up to this fact and don’t try to camouflage the movie as a clever allegory for the overblown fitness industry or flavour of the week diet crazes. If you know that going in you’ll enjoy this movie. I did.

 
Movie Guru Rating
Entertaining and well crafted.  May not be worth the price of a theater ticket, but a solid rental. Entertaining and well crafted.  May not be worth the price of a theater ticket, but a solid rental. Entertaining and well crafted.  May not be worth the price of a theater ticket, but a solid rental. Entertaining and well crafted.  May not be worth the price of a theater ticket, but a solid rental.
  3.5 out of 5 stars

 
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