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Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story (2004)

  Directed by: Rawson Marshall Thurber
Written by: Rawson Marshall Thurber
Starring: Ben Stiller, Christine Taylor, Vince Vaughn
Links: Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story on the IMDb, Official site
Genre: Comedy

This movie gets: 3.00 (2 ratings) Ranking: Ranked equal 179th of 187 movies (2 ratings minimum; see full chart)

Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story (2004) is also mentioned in andy-j's review of Meet the Fockers (2004) and andy-j's review of Swingers (1996).

"Rankin Fitch: Gentlemen, trials are too important to be left up to juries!" - a review by andy-j

I've finally made up my mind about Ben Stiller. Despite a whole heap of people I know raving about how good he is, I've come to the conclusion that he Really Isn't Very Good At All. In Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story, he plays White Goodman, the sleazy, egotistical and rather creepy owner of the high-class and exclusive Globo-Gym. The Average Joe Gym across the road, on the other hand, is run-down, poorly managed and unpopular. It is run by Peter La Fleur (Vince Vaughn), an Average Joe in every sense of the word. When Goodman announces plans to take over the Average Joe Gym, it's up to La Fleur and his bunch of losers to raise $50,000 in order to stay in business. So they enter the Las Vegas Dodgeball competition, where first prize conveniently is $50,000. But the ever-spiteful Goodman enters his band of Dodgeball champions in the same competition to ensure that La Fleur's plan will never come to fruition.

The plot itself is pretty basic really.. but that's ok. It doesn't need to be great. Once the premise is set up, you pretty much know where it's going and how it's all gonna end. Happy Gilmore (1996) had the same sort of very basic plot going on (in fact, now that I think about it, Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story is almost identical), and it is one funny funny movie. So why is Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story less funny? I can put it down to two things: the characters and the jokes.

Firstly, the characters: Ben Stiller's character is strange. He's got all the ingredients needed to be a funny villain, but he's just not. He's got a freaky obsession with food that borders on being sexual, a highly inflated ego, a warped view of reality, and he's generally pretty nasty. But it doesn't really work. Not enough is done with it. White Goodman needs to be fleshed out more, like the character of Doctor Evil was, for example. Maybe we need to see more of where his food thing comes from, or some more of his weird little habits, or some more of him falling flat on his face. It would have made a big difference if we had a more effective bad guy. As it is, Stiller's character had a huge amount of potential, but the character doesn't get there.

And that's really all I've got to say. The rest of the cast are unremarkable and the whole thing is pretty much unfunny. I was also meant to talk about the jokes.. so how's this: There is the occasional laugh, but then again, there is the occasional laugh in a good courtroom drama.

andy-j gives this movie 4 out of 10.
Review created on Wed 19 Jan 2005

"If I had paid, I would have demanded my money back" - a review by pearly

How terrible is this movie? Yurgh. It's so predictably Hollywoodesque in every single way, that it can't possibly provide anything new or interesting in terms of plot. Comedy is its only possible salvation, but it's not at all funny. There's definitely a market out there for this movie, but I'm not in that market.

In case you care, and you don't already know, Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story is about Peter (Vince Vaughn), the guy who runs Average Joe's Gymnasium. He's an everyman, turning up to work every day and hanging out with the bunch of misfits who frequent his gym. Then, there's White (Ben Stiller), owner of Globo Gym, which is right across the street from Average Joe's, and is in the process of trying to take them over. In the middle is Kate (Christine Taylor), who is helping White financially with the takeover, but who sides with Peter.

And when the folk at Average Joe's decide to enter a dodgeball competition to raise money for the gym, that's when things start to get hilarious (in theory).

Vaughn plays the straight guy to Stiller's "funny" man, and does quite a decent job of it, given the material. He has some of the better lines in the whole thing, though he still wasn't able to make me laugh out loud. Taylor is exactly the same as she was in Zoolander (2001), i.e. nothing particularly memorable. Stiller is the one I hated most. I know he was supposed to look stupid with that moustache on, but I couldn't stand to look at him. I used to think he was okay, but he's irrepearably damaged his reputation with this one. As is often the case with this sort of film, the cameos were the best thing about it: particular mentions should go to Chuck Norris and David Hasselhoff.

I cannot even name on one hand the number of so-called jokes which were not funny in this film. There was the mail-order bride who did the L on the forehead thing at her husband: not funny. The aeration of the groin area of White's pants: not funny. Every single time that White said some stupid repetitive sentence, like "you know that I know that you know that I know...": not funny. Any joke about "balls": not funny. Any repeated word joke, like "American Dodgeball Association of America" or "dodge, duck, dip, dive, dodge": not funny. Anything that Jason Bateman said: not funny. See, six things already, i.e. more than the the fingers on one hand.

But the real insult came after the closing credits. You know how it's cool to put a little snippet there (especially in a comedy movie) to congratulate anyone who bothered to sit through the credits? With this one, it was Stiller, doing this supposedly ironic monologue about how no-one can handle complexity in films, and they just want to be entertained, and isn't Hollywood predictable, and blah, blah, blah. It made my blood boil. Just because you make fun of the fact that you're only ever mediocre, doesn't make it okay. I seriously doubt you've won over any of your critics with this diatribe (if you want to learn how to write a good rant, you should consult John Safran). But I guess that's the only effort you're willing to make, because actually trying to produce a decent, unique film would be way too difficult for someone like you.

pearly gives this movie 2 out of 10.
Review created on Wed 22 Sep 2004

Movie review statistics

Number of reviews: 2
Average rating: 3.00
Lowest rating: 2 (by pearly)
Highest rating: 4 (by andy-j)
Rating Percentage

Reader comments

  1. Your review - not funny!

    Dodgeball was excellent. Your inability to appreciate the risible nuances of this film make you someone I'd hate to sit next to at a dinner party.

    Rating given: 9

    A comment from whittler ( on Fri 24 Sep 2004 10:18 #

  2. as my name suggests, i am a 2 line wonder, if i make my review over 2 lines, dont sue, as i have no money.
    ok, we're not counting that part
    nows my review: Dodgeball was a great movie, I might think this because I am 15 and uneducated, but dodgeball was aimed at teens, so oh well. i respect others opinions and agree that stiller should have had a more active role, but as i think im above my 2 lines, my review ends here

    Rating given: 9

    A comment from 2 line wonder on Wed 09 Mar 2005 18:16 #

  3. this movie was great and any body who doesn't think so is an ass hole. te actors were great.ben stiller,vince vaughn, a guy who throws wrenches,you guys are just dumbasses.

    Rating given: 10

    A comment from billybob on Fri 20 Jan 2006 10:11 #

  4. Actually, I thought Dodgeball was a very witty and well written movie, it certainly made me laugh. Some people **ahem, not pointing any fingers, ahem** are just too stiff or slow to understand many of the jokes, they often have underlying messages, and that to me made it an interesting movie to watch, and one that made my sides ache. You should learn to loosen up a bit and appreciate the slightly juvenile humors many movies now rely on!

    Rating given: 9

    A comment from Sally on Wed 19 Apr 2006 12:58 #

  5. Dodgeball, actually was an interesting movie. Although some of the humors may have been geered towards younger people, as a professional film critic, I found it to be a very enjoyable movie.

    Rating given: 10

    A comment from Kelly on Wed 19 Apr 2006 13:02 #

  6. dodgeball was awesome, you really need to lighten up dudes! seriousl, loosen up stiff-o

    Rating given: 10

    A comment from Jessa on Wed 19 Apr 2006 13:06 #

  7. Some cultures only eat vomit..ive been there but..ive read about it...Ina book lol.

    A comment from T Money on Fri 04 Apr 2008 03:37 #

Those who have commented give this movie: 9.50 (6 ratings)

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