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The Cinematic Katzenjammer: Sept. 13: Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story


Sept. 13: Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story

"A group of misfits enter a Las Vegas dodgeball tournament in order to save their cherished local gym from the onslaught of a corporate health fitness chain."
Directed by: Rawson Marshall Thurber, Rated: PG-13, 92 minutes

Dodgeball is a movie that's fun to watch on TV whenever it pops up. It's nothing you necessarily want to seek out, but it's a nice way to kill 90 minutes when you have nothing else to do. It's a comedy that would have benefited a lot with an R-rating and I think it's inability to really "grab life by the ball" and go all out really hinders the film. Yes, it's funny, yes, it's great seeing Ben Stiller in a role similar to his role in Heavyweights, and yes, it has Vince Vaughn doing a good job, but the story is just a little too all over the place and downright stupid to consider this a comedy classic. One thing it does, however, is make you really, really want to play adult dodgeball, join a league, and kick some ass. 

Yes, please. 

The film follows Peter (Vaughn), the owner of a dilapidated, near-bankrupt gym called Average Joes. The place is a hangout for a bunch of 'losers' and a nice play for them to turn when life slaps them in the face. Across the street at Global Gym, White Goodman (Stiller), is obsessed with being fit, looking good, and surrounding himself with only attractive people. Global Gym is a place no one but steroid-juicing man-things would work out and has the completely opposite mission statement than Average Joe's. After Goodman threatens to buy the property Average Joe's is on, Peter must come up with $50,000 by the end of the month to save his place from going into foreclosure. Of course, it being a movie and all, it just so happens that the national dodgeball championship is just about to begin, with the prize totally $50,000. So Average Joe's creates a team, led by Vaughn, that includes the like of Justin Long, Stephen Root, Alan Tudyk, Joel David Moore, Chris Williams, and Stiller's real life wife, Christine Taylor. They enter the tournament under the tutelage of Patches O'Houlihan (Rip Torn), a hall of fame dodge ball player. Not the man to just sit down and take it, Goodman starts his own team and enters the tourney as well. Chaos, dodging, dipping, diving, ducking, and more dodging ensues, and both teams work their way to the somewhat climactic match in the finals. 

Bizarre but entertaining, Rip Torn makes Patches even...weirder?

It's in the ridiculously formulaic plot that Dodgeball loses itself. Every "twist" in the plot you see coming from miles away and the obvious match-up in the final is too 'eh' to really care about. Along with the weak plot, none of the characters are worth cheering for. Vince Vaughn phones in his performance, only showing the smallest bits of improvisation genius and Ben Stiller has his moments, but he's just too over-the-top. I will admit, I did laugh a lot throughout the film, more so at the supporting cast, like Stephen Root's weirdo-sometimes Hulk-angry 'family man', Alan Tudyk's pirate obsessing Steve, and Jason Bateman's even weirder Pepper, the ESPN 8 announcer who commentates each match. The best part of the film is the actual dodgeball games, with each match having it's own ridiculously awesome theme-teams, from The Lumberjacks, to The Kamikazes. However, each of these teams are on screen for just a few moments and never given a real chance to not only play dodgeball, but show off their unique skills. 

Too much, Ben... too much.

Even with its flaws, Dodgeball is still entertaining as a whole. As I mentioned, it's a good movie to catch on TV when you're bored, but it's nothing worth seeking out. Overall, it's rather disappointing in its execution and story, but its moments that are funny, are hilarious. It also puts a highlight on an awesome sport that can only be 1000x more fun as an adult than it was in high school. I saw this film a long time ago and really loved it, but after re-watching it I'm sure that it's nowhere as good as I remember. Either way, watch it if you want, or go find yourself a red ball that throw it at someone's face. Both are fun... kind of. 

The Good:
showcasing a sport that looks so much fun with a tad pit of humor thrown in here and there
The Bad:
two main characters that are not the most likable, with Vaughn not committing 100% to the role and Stiller committing well over 100%
The Ugly:
a plot that is just too lacking and messy, never knowing where to go 

Overall: 6.7/10


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