Reviewed by: Chris Monroe
|Featuring:||Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Christine Taylor, Jason Bateman, Rip Torn|
|Director:||Rawson Marshall Thurber|
|Producer:||Stuart Cornfeld, Ben Stiller|
|Distributor:||20th Century Fox|
Going onto court and taking on a game with Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story, prepare to be pelted, pummeled and pounded with humor, but ready to dodge the crassness it will throw at you as well. A unique backdrop and usual plot, this movie is sopping with slapstick comedy and sordid silliness. Written and directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber and produced by Ben Stiller, this movie carries with it some of the same sportsmanship as Ben Stiller’s outlandish Zoolander.
Peter (Vince Vaughn) owns and operates Average Joe’s Gym, and due to negligence with his taxes, is about to lose his business. With only thirty days to come up with fifty thousand dollars, Peter and his other misfit friends decide to compete in a dodgeball competition where they can win the money. Besides overcoming their own shortcomings, they find their greatest competition with White Goodman (Ben Stiller) and his superiorly brawny crew at the high-powered Globo Gym across the street.
Playing against their usual types, Ben Stiller has been cast as the overly cocky, narcissistic, super-workout master and Vince Vaughn as the “average joe” type whom we like and can relate to. But keeping with his usual style, Stiller’s comedy rightfully lies in the fact that his character takes himself way too seriously. His character is fantastically adorned with the sleekest spandex, feathered hair and extreme arrogance to boot. As one of the commentators mentions during the final dodgeball competition, the story is much like a kind of David and Goliath showdown. Vaughn is the one whom we identify with and sympathize as he struggles to do the right thing.
The sporty feel to the whole movie and slapstick humor is entertaining. Many laughs can be had at some of the embellished, almost cartoon antics of it all. For example, when the average joe guys get a coach (Rip Torn), he trains them to dodge balls by first throwing wrenches at them. One guy he hits in the head. It’s so unexpected, but hilarious as it catches us of guard. The sound effects during the dodgeball games, and the fact that nearly everyone who is hit with a ball falls down, is also a bit far-fetched. But it all adds to the fun and hilarity of it all.
Some things to know before seeing the film is that there are crass jokes scattered throughout the movie. A lot of them are sexual and some are just plain crude. Most of them come from the average joe team’s gruff coach who delivers them in one-liners. There are also a few foul words and a surprising moment at the end where we discover somebody is a bisexual. Another event involves a mix-up of the team’s costumes with them wearing sadomasochistic outfits for one game. The sport commentators make a few references to these costumes while they play. The opening shot and a couple of other moments, too, highlight cheerleaders dancing and focus on their bottoms.
One idea this film clearly portrays has to do with pride. The bible talks extensively about it and its repercussions. White Goodman is clearly full of pride, while Peter is the humble “average joe.” Some biblical principals that are supported throughout this story are that, for one, pride comes before a fall. Expectantly, we see White lose—which is played out even at the very end of the credits. Also, Jesus said that he who exalts himself will be humbled, while he who humbles himself will be exalted. Obviously White suffers from his pride, but interestingly, we see the “average joe” guys humble themselves and work on their weaknesses, thereby becoming better by the end. Paul also stated that God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.
If you like physical humor, you could be in for some real belly laughs, but the raunchy humor can spoil the experience. The production value was nothing extraordinary, but very well done. They really have fun with some of the slow motion shots and exaggerated dodgeball playing. What was even more fun was the label on the box of money at the end that says “deus ex machina”—Greek for “machine of the gods”—referencing the Greek tragedy device, which is obviously being used at that moment.
Violence: Minor / Profanity: Moderate / Sex/Nudity: Mild
Here’s what the distributor says about their film: “A small local gym is threatened with extinction by a gleaming sports and fitness palace unless a group of social rejects can rise to victory in the ultimate dodge ball competition.”