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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 Steve Rhodes
3 stars out of 4

DODGEBALL: A TRUE UNDERDOG STORY, even if it isn't in the same league as Ben Stiller's best pictures, is silly, stupid and fun. Blending Stiller's model posturing from ZOOLANDER with his macho moves from STARSKY AND HUTCH, DODGEBALL: A TRUE UNDERDOG STORY tells the story of a ragtag BAD NEWS BEARS-like dodgeball team named Average Joe's that comes out of nowhere to play in the world championships in Las Vegas. With hyperbolic glee, the ESPN8 announcer reminds us that this championship is "bigger than the World Cup, the World Series and World War II combined!"

Average Joe's team members hail from a low-rent gym of the same name owned by Peter LaFleur (Vince Vaughn). The gym has modest mottoes on the walls, such as "Failure IS an option." Its competition is a steel-and-glass palace of sweat known as Globo Gym, which is owned by White Goodman (Stiller). White is launching something of a hostile takeover by buying up Peter's bankrupt establishment. But, if Peter and his awful team could win the championship, they could get the money to save their gym. As Kate Veatch, Christine Taylor plays the bank's attorney who rejects White's literally sickening sexual advances and goes on to be a star player on Peter's team. Of course, the team to beat will be the one that White puts together, called the Purple Cobras. Peter has all nerds while White has almost all gigantic jocks. It is a real David and Goliath struggle.

But before Average Joe's can go to the nationals, they first have to defeat a surprisingly tough team of preteens who belong to a Brownie-like group called Troop 417. A legendary dodgeball coach, Patches O'Houlihan (Rip Torn), comes out of nowhere to show our guys how to win. His unusual training techniques include throwing big wrenches at the players where they will hurt the most. The movie's laughs come mainly from the "oh, that's got to hurt" brand of physical comedy.

The dialog is pretty good too. DODGEBALL: A TRUE UNDERDOG STORY is definitely the only film that contains the insult, "your gym is a skid mark on the underpants of society."

DODGEBALL: A TRUE UNDERDOG STORY runs 1:36. It is rated PG-13 for "rude and sexual humor, and language" and would be acceptable for kids around 11 and up.

My son Jeffrey, age 15, gave the movie ***, saying that he thought the movie was hilarious and that he really liked the dodgeball games. His friend Nicholas, also 15, gave it *** 1/2, he said that he especially liked the crazy names of all the teams. Their favorite character was the pirate. (Yes, one of the characters is a pirate, or so he thinks.)

Copyright 2004 Steve Rhodes

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