photo (c) 2004, 20th Century Fox

Dodgeball had train wreck written all over it. The idea was funny enough, but how anyone could sustain the quality for a feature length film was beyond me. How many times can you see a guy get nailed in the face and crotch and still laugh? It turns out, plenty...but there's tons more to make this movie a hilarious success.  
Surprisingly, the script in this movie is fantastic, and from the unlikely, but appropriate creator of the Terry Tate, Office Linebacker commercials, Rawson Marshall Thurber. It's got stupid jokes, highbrow jokes, slapstick comedy, sarcastic comedy, and subtle comedy throughout. The entire audience at the screening was laughing at one point or another.  

photo (c) 2004, 20th Century Fox

The goofy plot is just an excuse to unleash the fun. Vince Vaughn plays Peter La Fleur, who owns a financially troubled down fitness club, gets a ragtag team of misfits (including Alan Tudyk, the redhead from "A Knight's Tale", who think's he's a pirate) together to win $50,000 in a Vegas Dodgeball tournament together to keep the evil fitness club owner, White Goodman (who I'll admit grudgingly is hilariously played by Ben Stiller), from taking over his business.
What other film can you get to see guy have sex with a slice of pizza?
Or how about a team called The Hasselhoffs?  

photo (c) 2004, 20th Century Fox

The entire tournament is aired on ESPN 8 ("The Ocho") and has insanely hilarious color commentary by Gary Cole and Jason Bateman. With lines like, "This is a David and Goliath story truer than The Bible itself" throughout, it really pays to pay close attention.
There's tons of great surprises, cameos, and nice touches that make this film really a treat. I've been wanting a film with good dumb fun that doesn't disappoint for quite some time, and this is just what I was waiting for.
Rip Torn is great as Patches O'Houliahan, a Dodgeball legend from the 40s that comes back to coach them. If you liked him in Freddy Got Fingered, you'll especially love him here. With motivational speeches where he mentions, "I don't have to...I don't have to do a lot of things...I don't have to drink my own urine, but I do because it's sterile and I like the taste!", I was in heaven.

photo (c) 2004, 20th Century Fox

I always loved the game of Dodgeball.  There's something so Darwinian about it that you have to love.  Save boxing, there's no other game where the players are actually encouraged to hurt the opposing players.  Oh sure, those red rubber balls are soft, but when thrown the right way, there was pain to be had.

Back in 4th grade, I saw a poor girl named Krista who got pegged in the crotch so hard, she curled up on the ground in a fetal position for a few minutes.  Instead of receiving sympathy, someone just shouted out, "POW!  Right in the catcher's mitt!"  If you hit someone in the face, you'd get high fives from everyone around.  A friend of mine told me a girl in his school was hit in the face so hard that it broke her glasses AND knocked her out cold.  Instead of being ostracized, he was "Hero of The School."  (Of course, the girl likely came back and shot 15 kids the next day).

And that's the beauty of this film.  Sometimes you want to see an epic, moving story, that lifts your hearts, minds, and spirits, and sometimes you just want to see someone get a wrench thrown at their face.  For that type of film, I'd give it my highest rating. I have absolutely no complaints about it, and neither did anyone else in the theater I talked to after it was through.
I can't wait to see it again.

photo (c) 2004, 20th Century Fox

-Robert Berry


FIVE out of FIVE



Journal o' Fun



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