Saturday, November 26, 2011

Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story (2004)


Peter LaFleur (Vince Vaughn), owner of a small gym aptly titled 'Average Joe's', is in financial trouble.  He has defaulted on his mortgage, and will lose his gym to evil competitor Globo-Gym, run by the unbelievably slimy White Goodman (Ben Stiller), unless he and his gang of misfit gym members can come up with $50,000 in the next thirty days.  Fortunately, the national dodgeball championships are coming up, and you'll never guess what the grand prize is . . .

I like Vince Vaughn.  While he can sometimes be the wild-and-crazy character (as in the surprisingly good Mr. and Mrs. Smith), here he takes on a more straightforward leading man role.  Not only is he genuinely likable as a protagonist, but he is an excellent foil for Stiller's own turn as the over-the-top, maniacal, and disgusting villain of the piece.  The supporting cast is also excellent--I always enjoy seeing Stephen Root, Joel Moore was his dorkily charming self, and Alan Tudyk seems to positively relish his role as a man who genuinely believes he's a pirate.  Even Justin Long, who I sometimes find annoying, seemed sypathetic after he'd been bombarded with dodgeballs a few dozen times.  Plus, it's hard to be annoyed with anyone who brings back memories of Bring It On

As always, Stiller parades a host of delightful cameos across the screen (Shatner! Gary Cole! Lance Armstrong! Chuck Norris!).  Equally always, his real-life wife Christine Taylor holds her own as the only real flesh-and-blood woman in a world of caricatures.  I am always surprised that she has such good chemistry with Stiller; couples who sizzle in real life often fizzle on screen, but Taylor's been consistently good when starring alongside her husband. 

There were a few times when the jokes went a bit past my own personal funny/gross threshhold, but that's par for the course where Stiller is concerned.  Fortunately, this movie falls squarely in PG-13 territory, so it wasn't too offensive. 

Bottom line:  An occasionally crass, mostly funny movie.  I liked it.

No comments: