Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story (2004)

dodgeball IMDb

Remember in 2004 when everyone decided that dodgeball was cool again? Either the people involved in this resurgence had forgotten how terrible this game is, or they were the kids who were actually good at it. You know the type: kids who were never picked last in gym class and reveled the opportunity to pelt rubber balls at their less athletic classmates with the teacher’s permission.

Needless to say I was not into dodgeball’s comeback. That day was always the worst PE class of the month. My strategy was always to get purposely hit, or else risk being the last man standing on my team and face a line of annoyed stares when I inevitably lost the game. I did watch Extreme Dodgeball (a televised adult dodgeball competition) a handful of times when it aired and chuckled at the punny team names, but other than that I wasn’t having it. Dodgeball is just dumb, and this movie isn’t much better.

The odds were already stacked against me liking the movie with my distaste for the game, but Vince Vaughn pretty much seals the deal. I don’t like him as an actor, and he does nothing for me here. In fact, nobody really stands out in this movie, including actors who I do enjoy watching (Ben Stiller, Christine Taylor, Jason Bateman, Stephen Root). There are a few funny moments and one-liners, but… eh. It’s just not enough.

I think I’ll stick to comedies about well established sports. They usually have more laughs.

Rating: D-

This film is not going to win any awards, but it is still a fun way to spend 90 minutes. The plot is absurd, but it works due to the strong cast that run with it, despite the ridiculousness of the story.

Vince Vaughn plays Peter La Fleur, the owner of Average Joe’s Gym. The gym is losing money and about to go out of business unless he can find $50,000 to pay off his debts. A dodgeball competition just happens to be offering $50,000 as a reward for winning their competition, so Peter and his rag tag group of gym members join the dodgeball comp hoping to save Peter’s gym. The gym across the street is owned by White Goodman (Ben Stiller), who doesn’t want Peter to save his gym so he can buy it cheap and turn it into a huge addition to his own gym. He also enters the dodgeball competition with the sole purpose of preventing Peter’s team from winning. Peter must overcome Goodman’s superior team and hope his own team can pull it together in time to save his business.

This is a funny movie. Vaughn and Stiller have terrific chemistry together. Stiller is great as the oily owner of Peter’s rival Globo Gym. He is great at playing psychotic guys, he has done it many times and has always excelled at it. Vince Vaughn is playing who he always plays. He has a regular schtick, but this was early enough that the audience isn’t bored of it yet, so it works. The best part of the film for me was the commentators at the dodgeball competition. Jason Bateman and Gary Cole play the two commentators and Bateman is hilarious. This film was his first in a long time, and he was able to use it as a springboard to the career resurgence he is currently experiencing.

This film is a lot of fun. The movie is helped by a solid cast that run with its implausible plot and have a lot of fun with it.

Rating: B

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