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Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story

movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story

Starring: Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn
Director: Rawson Marsahll Thurber
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 92 Minutes
Release Date: June 2004
Genre: Comedy

*Also starring: Christine Taylor, Justin Long, Jason Bateman, Michelle Boehle, Cayden Boyd, Brooke Burke, Tate Chalk, Gary Cole, Jamal Duff, Julie Gonzalo

Review by Susan Granger
2½ stars out of 4

In this crazed sports spoof, slobby nice-guy Peter LaFleur (Vince Vaughn) has a dilapidated, ramshackle gym called Average Joes, which is, unfortunately, right across the street from the sleek, successful, high-tech Globo Gym run by egomaniacal fitness guru White Goodman (Ben Stiller). In order to save his failing business from foreclosure, LaFleur has to secure $50,000 and, to that end, he enters his inexperienced team of misfits (Alan Tudyk, Justin Long, Joel David Moore, Chris Williams) in a dodge-ball championship in Las Vegas, where - predictably - they'll face Goodman's Purple Cobras, a team of super-buff players including a Russian Amazon.

Written and directed as a first feature by Rawson Marshall Thurber, it's simply an adolescent rehash of the lovable-losers-triumph-over-adversity story. While he's sometimes hilarious, like in "Starsky and Hutch" and "Zoolander," Ben Stiller's frantic, caricatured schtick too often gets tedious here. Instead, it's Jason Bateman of TV's "Arrested Development" who gets the most laughs as a sportscaster whose patter is filled with non-sequiturs during the tournament finale.

Hank Azaria plays the young Patches O'Houlihan, a legendary dodge ball champion, whose instructional video touts "the sport of violence, exclusion and degradation," while Rip Torn is the older, demented Patches, arriving in a motorized wheelchair to coach the Average Joes. There are cameos by Chuck Norris and cyclist Lance Armstrong - and for trivia buffs, Stiller's real-life wife, Christine Taylor, is the bank lawyer who joins the Average Joe's team after fending off Goodman. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10,, "Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story" scores a silly, stupid, intermittently funny 6. It's only 96 minutes long but I'd wait for the video.

Copyright 2004 Susan Granger

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