Movie Review: Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story (2004)

Posted: September 27, 2014 in Comedy
Tags: , ,


Peter LeFleur (Vince Vaughn) owns Average Joe’s Gym.  Peter has a staff of two, Owen (Joel David Moore) and Dwight (Chris Williams) and three clients, Justin (Justin Long) a skinny college kid who dreams of being a male cheerleader, Gordon (Steven Root) a passive aggressive man with a mail order wife, and Steve (Alan Tudyk) a man who thinks he’s a pirate, and dresses like one.  Peter’s rival, White Goodman, owns Golobgym a successful gym, takes out a second mortgage on Average Joe’s in order to take it over. Banker Kate Veatch (Christine Taylor) tells Peter he’s got 30 days to raise 50,000 dollars to save his gym.

Peter doesn’t have 50,000 dollars, the group brainstorms about possible ways to raise money.  They try a car wash, but no one wants to see these guys in their underwear, so they end up losing money on the car wash.  Gordon then tells Peter that there’s a dodgeball tournament and the grand prize is 50,000 dollars.  Peter gets the help of legendary dodgeball coach Patches O’Houlihan, (Hank Azaria, Rip Torn) to coach Peter and his merry band of misfits in the finer points of dodgeball.  But, to make Peter’s life even more difficult, White creates a dodgeball team to compete with Peter’s team.  Can Patches take a ragtag team and turn them into dodgeball contenders?  Does White Goodman derail Peter’s dream and take over his gym?

I don’t know why I love this movie, but I do, there are sophomoric sex jokes and bathroom humor, this is the kind of humor that usually repels me, but this time it works.  The characters are cartoonish stereotypes, who would never exist in real life, but it is a laugh riot.  Why does this movie work?  It works because the cast makes the material better than it is.  Vince Vaughn is the perfect straight man in this movie, Ben Stiller is such a horrendously offensive, egomaniacal, self-absorbed misogynistic creep that the viewer can’t help but laugh.  Stiller plays the role to evil perfection, even the way he looks, handlebar mustache, 1980’s haircut, adds to the character’s comedic feel.  Christine Taylor, Stiller’s real-life wife has some definite chemistry with Stiller, and delivers big laughs of her own.  Justin Long plays the put-upon wimpy guy looking to prove himself.  Steven Root plays a guy with a lot of pent-up aggression looking for an outlet.   Rip Torn is hilarious as the course, foul -mouthed Patches.  But Jason Bateman absolutely steals this movie as drug-addled color commentator Pepper Brooks.  His performance is the cherry on this sundae.

Don’t go into this movie expecting tremendous production values, in fact the film looks like it’s produced in a high school audio-visual class.  But the look actually helps the comedy, Average Joe’s is a dump, dodgeball is a third rate sport covered on ESPN 8.  If this was a glossy looking film, it would belie the atmosphere of the film.

Dodgeball:  Have a ball.


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