Dodgeball: A True Underdog... (2004)
Review Date: June 16, 2004
Director: Rawson Marshall Thurber
Writer: Rawson Marshall Thurber
Producers: Ben Stiller, Stuart Cornfeld
A rinky-dink gym is forced to come up with $50,000 or lose their favorite hangout to a major fitness conglomerate run by an arrogant, deep-voiced goof with a Fu-Manchu mustache. Recognizing their only salvation as a dodgeball tournament in Vegas, the ragtag group of losers from the soon-to-be-extinct gym, train to become the best of the best. Lots of people getting hit in the face with plastic balls...ensues.
I'm a big fan of both Ben Stiller and Vince Vaughn, but unlike their last comedic collaboration, STARSKY & HUTCH, not much about this movie was "talking to me" before I saw it. As it turns out, the former film didn't turn out to be as funny or inventive as I had hoped, and the same can be said of this movie, which despite sporting a decent premise and a few funny moments, doesn't really come through in terms of major laughs, energy or memorable sequences. This is an easy movie to watch-it doesn't demand much from the viewer and it is sure to provide most people looking for mindless gags (lots of people getting hit in the face and nuts by plastic balls) with some guffaws, but as I mentioned earlier, with the pedigree on the film featuring two of my favorite movie dudes, along with a plethora of cameos/small parts from the likes of Stephen Root, Chuck Norris, Jason Bateman, William Shatner, Rip Torn, Hank Azaria, David Hasselhoff and others, you'd have thought it would be a laugh-a-minute riot, but it turns out to be more like a video/DVD offering, than anything. Most of the aforementioned cameos don't even hold up, particularly the Hasselhoff appearance, which was already milked (and funnier) in EUROTRIP, and the Jason Bateman commentary stuff, which was surprisingly unfunny (not to mention that Fred Willard provided the ultimate sports commentator in BEST IN SHOW-tough act to follow) A couple of bits also felt tired like the whole S&M scenario, the wrench-throwing scene, as well as the stereotypical teams (although THE MILFs were inspired!)
But the film's biggest disappointment for me was my man Vaughn, who for some reason, was asked to tone down his usual Trent-like behavior and act like a wuss during the entire movie-even stranger is the fact that he looked like he was on the ultimate hangover in most scenes, almost like he didn't even want to be there. Dude...stop partying and drinking so much and get your groove on...you're in show business...focus! (although I did love his line to Christine Taylor - Stiller's real-life wife-"C'mon, just put your mouth where the balls are") Stiller does his best as the over-the-top fitness guru with a deep voice and sexist attitude, but only about half of his shtick stuck with me as well. His issues with vocabulary were funny the first 2-3 times, but got old after that. As for the rest of the crew, again, mostly hits and misses, with Justin Long continuing his fine work as the ultimate nerd, while folks like Root and Torn were just wasted. And why was one of the guys in the crew a pirate again? For laughs, I guess. Not from this asshole. I'm concentrating on the actors as much as I am because the film's plotline is obviously not its core selling point. Let's face it, we all know how it's gonna turn out, we just want to be laughing as it does. For me, I got some laughs, enjoyed some of the characters, as well as the actual games of dodgeball (although even they...got a little tiring after a while...more cheerleaders!), but ultimately, the film just didn't provide enough consistent humor, drive or memorable sequences to heartily recommend it to one and all. This is no ZOOLANDER, folks. Check it out on video and enjoy some easy laughs.
(c) 2017 Berge Garabedian