Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story review by Tom Blain

I wanted to laugh more, honest!

I have a soft spot in my heart for stupid comedies. Pooh jokes are a little weakness of mine. Im the type of guy that still laughs when someone at the table lets one loose. Even in the corporate commode, I find it hard to compose myself when an orchestration of anal oration resonates in a harmonic tone few can appreciate. Call it a guilty pleasure if you must. So when I see a movie with a few of the following names (Vince Vaughn, Ben Stiller, Will Ferrell, Jack Black, Owen Wilson, and anything done by the Farrelly Bros.) my ears perk up and I drop $9.00 for a ticket. Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story had the makings to be the type of movie I would appreciate, but when the credits began to roll, I found myself disappointed and wanting a little bit more.

Peter LaFleur (Vince Vaughn) runs a gym aptly named Average Joes. Its poorly run, but full of loyal patrons who are less concerned about working out and more concerned about finding a place where they fit in. Across the street is the well-run Globo Gym; a mega- Ballys type facility that takes working out a bit more seriously. Globo is run by the vain and thick headed White Goodman (Ben Stiller). To say the gyms are in competition would be completely false because Average Joes doesnt put up much of a fight.

Along comes Kate Veatch (Ben Stillers luscious wife, Christine Taylor), a lawyer who is working on foreclosing on Average Joes if they cant raise $50,000 in a month. Its the oldest plot device in the sports comedy books (or any comedy for that matter): Find a way to make a ton of money in a month or get shut down. Elementary, Watson! So after trying to make money through an unsuccessful car-wash, the misfits decide to enter into a $50,000, winner take all dodgeball tournament in Las Vegas.

LaFleurs group of misfits includes Steve the Pirate (who dresses and acts like a real pirate), Justin the pansy high school kid who tries out for cheerleading, Gordon (Stephen Root) the passive, too-friendly old guy, the tall awkward Owen, Dwight the most normal of the bunch, and eventually Kate Veatch (former womans softball pitcher that has more athleticism then the rest of the motley crue). Eventually, as telegraphed, they have to face White Goodmans superhuman Globo team; hence the True Underdog Story

The most disappointed thing about this whole movie is Vince Vaughn. As a big fan of Swingers and Old School it pains me to say it. He is just consistently not-funny throughout the entire film. His character is supposed to be an unorganized slacker with no ambitions and he plays it with an almost deadpan personality. The problem is there are few jokes in the movie that play well into the deadpan gig, so he comes of flavorless and uninteresting. Ben Stillers character is more caricature, much like he was in Zoolander. He is outrageously dense, and completely engrossed with having the perfect body. You can probably go to most gyms and find a jerk-off like White Goodman, showing off to some ladies, and doing something latently homosexual. Stillers character is one of the funniest parts of the movie and probably saves it from being a complete disaster. Unfortunately none of the other characters have enough good gags to pull the movie up along with Stiller.

Director Rawson Marshall Thurber (lord, that has to be a stage name) is the guy who does all of those hilarious Terry Tate commercials for Reebok. It all sort of makes sense that he would take on the most violent school authorized sport known to kid-dom. Most of his jokes are aimed at getting laughs out of physical pain and big hits. I guess thats Thurbers school of comedy. Guy gets hit in junk with red ball queue laughs! Guy gets hit in brain with wrench queue laughs! Guy gets killed by falling sign queue the laughs! Some of it does trigger the giggle machine, but it would have worked a lot better had they gotten more out of the characters.

All in all, thats my assessment after the initial viewing. It had the markings to be the kind of thoughtless comedy that I usually dig but it missed a mark or two. My guess is I would have had a better time watching this if I was at home, with a few friends and a couple beers. Probably not worth the $9.00 you will have to drop to get into the theatres to see it, but it could be a good renter, or better yet watch it when it comes on HBO.




5 out of 10 Jackasses
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