Review by: Jack Foley | Rating:
DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Audio commentary by director Rawson
Marshall Thurber, Ben Stiller and Vince Vaughn. 10 deleted/extended
scenes. Alternate ending (with optional commentary by writer/director
Thurber). Blooper/gag reel. More with DodgeBall Dancers. DodgeBall:
Behind the Scenes Inside Look. Easter Eggs: 5 video segments and
2 hidden feature audio commentaries by Thurber and Stiller, Vaughn
and Thurber. 4 featurettes.
IN TERMS of knowing stupidity, Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story
has to rate among the most dumbest feel-good movies of recent
years. It aims low but mostly hits the target.
Vince Vaughn stars as charismatic under-achiever, Peter LaFleur,
whose rundown gym, Average Joe’s, is on the verge of being
taken over by Ben Stiller’s Globo Gym rival, White Goodman,
an egomaniacal fitness freak, who places physical prowess above
all else (despite having to own an inflatable cod-piece to attract
In order to try and win the money needed to rescue Average Joe’s,
LaFleur and his equally useless gym members enter a Dodgeball
tournament, but find themselves squaring off against the Globo
Gym competitors for a winner-takes-all showdown.
It’s all very predictable, and completely childish, residing
in the sort of body-fluid territory that the Farrelly brothers
have made their own, but Dodgeball somehow manages to rise above
its limitations to offer plenty of laugh-out-loud moments.
Part of its allure lies in its ability to realise its own stupidity,
in that it knows where most of its laughs are coming from and
doesn’t really attempt to offer anything different.
So if the idea of watching people
throw balls at each other, as hard as they can, grabs you, then
this is the film for you.
Director, Rawson Marshall Thurber, consistently finds new and
increasingly absurd ways of putting his performers in harm’s
way and the training sequences, in particular, are sure to provide
plenty of guffaws as Average Joe’s no-hopers fall under
the tutelage of Rip Torn’s former Dodgeball champion, who
is now confined to a wheelchair.
If they can dodge a spanner, or traffic, for instance, they can
easily dodge a ball, and Torn wastes no time in tossing everything
he can at them.
Likewise, Stiller’s inflated ego lands him in all manner
of cringe-inducing scenarios, whether it’s trying to woo
his legal advisor (Christine Taylor) by reading the dictionary
(‘I like to stay in mental shape, too’), or attempting
to outwit LaFleur by repeating everything he says.
Part of the key to the movie’s success lies in its casting,
which, for the most part, is spot-on. Both Vaughn and Stiller
are obviously having fun, and the former, in particular, brings
his usual smooth-talking cool to proceedings, effortlessly delivering
a life-long loser audiences can root for.
Stiller, meanwhile, continues to build on a rapidly expanding
comedy CV, just about staying the right side of annoying, as the
power-mullet-sporting Goodman, a genuinely creepy fitness freak
just waiting to receive his comeuppance.
The inspired use of cameos also serves to enliven the movie just
when things threaten to sag, with everyone from David Hasselhoff
and William Shatner, to Chuck Norris and Hank Azaria contributing
in some way.
It may, ultimately, be a no-brainer, designed purely to deliver
its playground laughs with wanton disregard for good taste, but
its energy is infectious and audiences will probably find themselves
chuckling along in spite of any misgivings.
But what else could you expect from a film that boasts the poster
tagline, ‘grab life by the balls’?