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Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story

Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story

What She said:

She

Remember the days of playing dodgeball in elementary school.  I absolutely loved it.  It was gritty, intense, and highly competitive.  Right up my alley.  Plus, if you hit someone hard enough with those rubber balls they’d have a texturized imprint for an hour or two afterward.

Dodgeball is a 2004 ensemble comedy with Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Justin Long, and Christine Taylor, just to name a few.  It came out during a time with those types of goofy unpredictable comedies were very popular, and I give it credit for being breezy and pretty darn funny.  The story revolves around Vaughn’s character, Peter LaFleur, who owns Average Joe’s gym.  White Goodman, played by Ben Stiller, is a grade A a-hole who moves in next door with the much larger, more deluxe Globo Gym.  While LaFleur is just days away from default on the loan for Average Joe’s, Goodman is eager to step in and buy up the place.  LaFleur and his hodge-podge of misfits (I won’t even call them remotely athletic), cannot stand the idea of Goodman destroying their haven, and so they look for a way to pay off the gym’s debt, a whopping $50,000.  They come across a Los Vegas dodgeball tournament that happens to be offering that very amount as its grand prize, and so the group decides to give it their best.  What they don’t realize is that it’s Goodman and the Globo Gym crew that they must overcome to win it all.

The plot of this movie is pretty straightforward.  It’s also actually quite unimportant, because what this movie is really about is showcasing Vaughn and Stiller’s comedic chops.  Vaughn plays his usual deadpan everyday guy screw up.  Stiller is larger than life as the obsessive and wholly inappropriate Goodman.  You’ll love to hate Stiller because, frankly, he’s weird, annoying, and downright creepy.  You know all along that the little guys will come out on top, but it’s nice to watch them triumph.  Some of the humor is edgy, but maybe not as much by today’s standards than it was in 2004.  It’s also pretty funny, and you can tell that some of it is last minute improv. 

Dodgeball is only an hour and a half long, so even if it doesn’t click with you, it’ll go by pretty quickly.  I liked it more this time I watched it than I did back when I saw it in theaters, so that’s notable.  Perhaps my sense of humor has immatured?

Either way, thumbs mostly up.

What he said:

He

Peter LeFleur (Vince Vaughn) has got problems.  He is the owner of Average Joe’s gym and the bank has recently informed him that White Goodman – owner of rival Globo-Gym – has put in a bid for his property. He plans to turn it into a parking lot as both a benefit to his customers, but mostly an insult to Peter. Lawyer Kate Veatch (Christine Taylor) is the one seeing the transaction and they both have the hots for her. The only way he can save his business is to come up with $50,000 in the next 30 days.

The only problem is that Peter’s gym makes virtually no money and White’s (Ben Stiller) gym is a juggernaut. Peter is something of a slacker. He is an “aim low” kind of guy. He only has a few customers and some of them can’t even pay their dues. White is the exact opposite of Peter. He is an obsessive fitness fanatic whose gym is filled with clients who look like bodybuilders and models. As you can see, there are a number of factors that contribute to this rivalry.

When Peter gathers his small but quirky group of customers to break the news to them, one of them suggests they enroll in a dodgeball tournament in Vegas to try and raise the money. They are reluctant at first, but are more willing when legendary dodgeball player Patches O'Houlihan (Rip Torn) volunteers his services as their coach.

Patches is a miserable, disgusting, foul-mouthed old man, but he knows hid dodgeball, so the team accepts him into the group. Along with Ben Stiller, he has the best lines of the movie. Rip Torn was spot on as this crude, but funny character.

Speaking of Ben Stiller, he is absolutely hilarious as the villain White Goodman. I like to workout and try to keep in shape, but White is a freak. He works out nonstop and has absolutely no respect for anyone who doesn’t share his philosophy in life. Look at this little dandy when he’s trying to convince Vince Vaughn’s character to just let him buy his gym. He spits out the one-liners almost one-after-another. Here’s a compilation of them right here

 The other standout performance to me was Jason Bateman as the color commentator at the dodgeball tournament. He didn’t have as many lines as some other characters, but every time he spoke I cracked up. Totally loved his character and the whole ESPN 8 thing.  It nailed that whole “way too excited about something nobody cares about” thing I feel like whenever I see poker, curling, or bowling on one of ESPNs million channels. Really funny stuff here.

Vince Vaughn throws in his usual dry line or two and he was certainly funny, but boy were some of the supporting characters in this movie a riot. This scene with him and his band of misfits cracks me up. The movie really had a lot of funny lines from several different people.

Rating: Thumbs up.

This movie review was written on June 21, 2012.