Dodgeball - A True Underdog Story
The weak vs. the strong storyline is no stranger to cinema. We cheered for
the foul-mouthed Bears, applauded the Cleveland Indians, and rooted for the
Hanson brothers. But throw in a schoolyard humiliation favorite that was
second only in degradation to being pantsed during assembly, and you can
expect a fair share of chuckles. Using a childhood sport that most adults have since repressed memories of sets the stage for lunacy, and that's exactly what the
flick delivers. Go ahead. Embrace the evil that is Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story.
Dodgeball is the classic big guy vs. little guy
can-do tale featuring your least favorite P.E. activity. Peter La Fleur
(Vince Vaughn) is the irresponsible manager of Average Joe Gymnasium, a
low-end workout center that is losing business to Globo Gym America Corp.,
run by former fatty food fetishist White Goodman (Ben Stiller). Peter
discovers that he has 30 days to come up with $50,000 of payments or else he
will lose his gym to Goodman. With the help of the bank's lawyer Kate Veatch
(Christine Taylor) and a ragtag team of gym regulars, Peter plans on
winning the Las Vegas International Dodgeball Open and its first place
prize money. Yes folks, all of your favorite sports clichés are here: the
salty, experienced coach (Rip Torn) with his inspirational
non-sequiturs, the nerd with a girl to impress, a love triangle between the two
rivals, and of course, pirates. What? You were expecting a high concept and clever plot twists, perhaps? C'mon.
If you want character development, go see the folks at Merchant-Ivory. This
is irreverent comedy, folks. And truth be told, it's nothing we haven't seen
before. Vince Vaughn hones his too-cool-for-school, good-guy persona against
Ben Stiller's lycra-covered, over-the-top overachiever with a '70s porn
moustache. Stiller's performance is colored with shades of the dim-witted
Zoolander and the granny-thrashing nurse from Happy Gilmore, but it
works. The two actors play off of each other and their co-stars quite well.
(Stiller's codpiece alone deserves its own screen credit.) But like a good drummer carries a band, the movie's costars are what keeps the audience's attention. And as always, Rip Torn does crazy
like no one else as dodgeball manager Patches O'Houlihan. He
chews the scenery, spouting nuggets of wisdom such as, ''If you can dodge a
wrench, you can dodge a ball'' before heaving a tool at one poor kid. As for the team of Average Joes, Stephen Root, Justin Long, and Joel Moore keep the gags rolling, as do the actors who make cameo appearances. This laugher has more guest stars than a
two-hour Love Boat special. With a list that includes David
Hasselhoff, Chuck Norris, Jason Bateman, Hank Azaria, I was almost expecting
Burt Reynolds and Dom DeLuise to show up in a red Ferrari. The
highlights? Well, Gary Cole shines in his bow to the great Vin Scully, but
nothing could beat Lance Armstrong, who laid down the best guilt trip I've
seen since I moved to the dorms.
This is Rawson Marshall Thurber's first time out playing with the big boys.
Quite a burden for a Tinseltown newbie, but Thurber pulls it off agreeably.
All of your favorite sports movies will be mocked, and you will enjoy it.
Thurber uses everything he can to get a laugh. Whether he's clowning Tony
Robbins, parodying '50s instructional videos, or using pizza in a perverse
and unholy manner, Thurber keeps his audiences attention with enough
breakneck shtick to make Mel Brooks proud. But most importantly, he never
forgets the fundamental rule to slapstick comedy: hitting people with stuff
is very, very funny, especially if it's in the nether regions or some area
of the human body that could potentially hurt or bleed a whole lot.
After weeks of sequels, remakes, and epic dramas, Dodgeball
offers moviegoers the perfect outing to appease their needs for butter and salt, air
conditioning and flippant comedy.