From the word go, Dodgeball has a few fundamental weaknesses that would make the movie itself -- not just its storyline -- a true underdog story. First off, it's a Ben Stiller vehicle. And like most Stiller vehicles, it more closely resembles a tricycle than a car. Second, and perhaps most importantly, it's written and directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber, the creative genius behind the 2002 comedy Terry Tate: Office Linebacker.
All this isn't to say Dodgeball isn't funny. It is. In much the same way spending an evening with a bunch of drunk jocks who tell nothing but nad jokes is both amusing and forgettable, Dodgeball delivers the humor by relentlessly lowering the bar until, sooner or later, even the most stoic film snob will eventually surrender a chortle. I, for one, chuckled almost constantly throughout the film. Some of the jokes are just too retarded to resist.
For those who think it matters, this is the story of a small-time gym owner named Peter (Vince Vaughn) who runs a fitness center called Average Joe's. Despite the name, the gym caters not to ordinary people but to a handful of rejects who simply won't fit in anywhere else. But Joe's is not all paradise and glamour; failure to collect membership dues or perform any of the other duties normally associated with running a business has put the gym in serious fiscal jeopardy. Now Peter must raise fifty grand to avoid losing Average Joe's to his evil arch-rival, White Goodman (Ben Stiller). With the fitness goals of six abject losers hanging in the balance, the patrons of Average Joe's form a dodgeball team in a last-ditch effort to save their gym.
Within this story is the frequently implied notion that regular people should be proud of who they are and give up absurd concepts of beauty that are foisted upon them by the fitness industry. It's a pleasant enough idea, but like the 2001 Jack Black comedy Shallow Hal, Dodgeball repeatedly sacrifices its message whenever the opportunity to crack a joke presents itself. So, rather than championing ordinary people, it just makes fun of freaks. Even so, it's pretty funny.
Along the way, a parade of celebrity cameos lends a befuddling air of legitimacy to the film. William Shatner, Chuck Norris, and David Hasselhoff make appearances. Even Lance Armstrong steps in to lend Peter a little guidance in his time of need. But despite this outside help, however, Dodgeball isn't likely to live long in anyone's memory. It's a one-joke script that will probably make you laugh for an hour or so. But the next day you'll be hard pressed to remember what movie you saw.
The DVD includes a full length commentary, alternate and deleted scenes (with a dramatically different alternate ending that no studio in its right mind would have allowed), a gag reel, and a few making-of featurettes.
On your mark, get set, make a phallic joke!
Run time: 92 mins
In Theaters: Friday 18th June 2004
Box Office USA: $114.2M
Box Office Worldwide: $167.7M
Distributed by: 20th Century Fox
Production compaines: 20th Century Fox
Contactmusic.com: 2 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 70%
Fresh: 113 Rotten: 48
IMDB: 6.7 / 10
Director: Rawson Marshall Thurber
Producer: Ben Stiller
Screenwriter: Rawson Marshall Thurber
Starring: Vince Vaughn as Peter La Fleur, Christine Taylor as Kate Veatch, Ben Stiller as White Goodman, Rip Torn as Patches O'Houlihan, Justin Long as Justin, Jason Bateman as Pepper Brooks, Stephen Root as Gordon, Joel David Moore as Owen, Chris Williams as Dwight, Alan Tudyk as Steve the Pirate, Missi Pyle as Fran, Jamal Duff as Me'Shell Jones, Gary Cole as Cotton McKnight, Hank Azaria as Young Patches O'Houlihan, Al Kaplon as Tournament Referee
Also starring: Rawson Marshall Thurber
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