Dodge, duck, dip, dive, and....dodge
Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story is directed by Rawson M. Thurber and stars Vince Vaughn, Ben Stiller, Christine Taylor, and Rip Torn.
The delightfully silly Dodgeball serves as something of a tribute to all of the sports comedy films of the 1980's, while also setting an example of, "2000's sports comedy done right." It's yet another story of how a group of down-on-their-luck misfits band together and play a sport in order to accomplish some common goal. The only catch is, that sport is dodgeball, as opposed to something wildly familiar like football or baseball. I'm aware that there is such a thing as the Nationla Dodgeball League, but my only experience with dodgeball is playing it during gym class in school or during in-door recess. Nonetheless, I find it to be an entertaining sport and something that I agree would make for entertaining material in a movie.
The misfits of Dodgeball's story are the few members of Average Joe's gym, owned by the mild-mannered Peter LaFleur (Vince Vaughn). Peter is forced to default on the gym's mortgage, which is then purchased by the vain fitness guru White Goodman (Ben Stiller), who owns and operates the much more prestigious Globo Gym across the street. The only way for Peter to save his gym is to raise $50,000 in thirty days, otherwise White will foreclose Average Joe's, demolish it, and build a parking garage. One of Average Joe's members, Gordon (Stephen Root), finds an ad in a magazine about a dodgeball tournament in Las Vegas, with a grand prize of $50,000, and suggests that they join. The group gets off to a rough start, but they receive some unexpected help from dodgeball legend Patches O'Houilihan (Rip Torn) and attorney Kate Veatch (Christine Taylor).
- Dodgeball's sheer ridiculousness never ceases to be funny, with plenty of eccentric characters and quotable dialogue. One of Average Joe's members is a man named Steve (Alan Tudyk), and he is fully convinced that he is a pirate. That alone may be good for a laugh or two, but the movie takes this a step farther, creating an extremely funny moment when one of the other members acknowledges very late in the film that he was unaware of Steve's presence. Patches O'Houlihan agrees to be the team's coach, preparing them for the tournament by making them do things like dodge wrenches and avoid getting hit by oncoming traffic (Patches says, "if you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball."). Average Joe's training scenes provide the film with some appropriate slapstick comedy, which is about as perfect of a way for the film to keep up its silliness when the characters aren't engaging in silly conversations. I also got a kick out of the dodgeball tournament being played on ESPN 8, where, "if it's almost a sport, we've got it here." This is the kind of movie that should never ever take itself seriously, and Dodgeball does just that.
- Ben Stiller has plenty of hilarious and memorable lines, but in the long run, he is a bit of a mixed bag. For all the good moments that Stiller has, he also has a fair share of awkward, unfunny ones, in which he doesn't know when to shut up and move on. Some of his lines are straight up awkward and make no sense at all, but awkward unfunny lines are a staple in almost all Ben Stiller comedies, so that should be no surprise to anyone who has seen enough of them. Thankfully, there's more good Stiller than bad Stiller here, so this low point is more like a semi-low point.
There's no need to go too deep into Dodgeball, and I should stop this review now before I spoil any more funny lines. The whole thing is an enjoyable and gleefully ridiculous sports comedy that never takes itself seriously, being highlighted by a plethora of quotable lines. And as an added bonus, the various dodgeball games we get to watch throughout the movie are a ton of fun. You can watch this movie over and over and not ever be the least bit bored with it; there's just too much silliness and profanity going on for Dodgeball to ever be considered boring. Dodgeball may not ever go on to be considered a sports comedy "classic", but it's got enough talent and enough memorable humor to stand out from the crowd. That's a hit, if you ask me.
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