Review: Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story

There has be a lack of great comedy pictures in the last year, and it may not be because studios aren’t trying, but when sequels to endless franchises and old comedic directors attempting to relive former glory, it is hard to get a fresh new idea that brings more to the table than your average racial jokes and footballs to the crotch. Luckily there are studios and producers out there who are willing to take a risk on a new idea and introduce the world to comedy at its finest. This summer first time writer/director Rawson Marshall Thurber introduced Dodgeball to us and comedy and sports movie fans will immediately fall in love with this picture.

Dodgeball stars Ben Stiller as White Goodman the face behind one of those massive sports clubs that are, “…better than you, and we know it.” Right across the street we have Average Joe’s Gym composed of a group of guys who just hang out, have fun, and, occasionally, work out. The problem arises when Vince Vaughn’s character of Peter La Fleur is $50,000 in the hole via backed taxes. He only finds out when a beautiful lawyer played by the equally beautiful Christine Taylor pays him a visit. Seeking an opportunity to put the eyesore out of business Goodman decides to buy Average Joe’s and build a parking structure. When the group is made aware of a dodgeball tournament in Las Vegas with a championship award of $50,000 the fun really begins.

The beauty of Dodgeball is the fact that it doesn’t take itself, or anything for that matter, too seriously. The movie knows what it is and is written merely for enjoyment. After seeing the film, however, you may wonder why the big awards shows don’t honor comedy as much as drama considering a great comedy can liven anyone’s day up, but a great drama will usually pull you down. Still, award show bashing aside, Dodgeball really is an underdog story. The movie virtually came out of nowhere, it is from a first time writer/director, and doesn’t feature one of the Wayans brothers in-front of the camera or a Coen brother behind, and still manages to be one of the best comedies all year.

Stiller himself has had his ups and downs this year with the average Along Came Polly and the great buddy-comedy Starsky & Hutch. Vince Vaughn basically plays the exact character he plays in all of his movies, but to much success. The calm, collected, cool guy suits him well and just his facial expressions in reaction to Stiller’s over the top fitness guru are enough to have you in tears at some parts of the film. Stiller’s real-life wife, Christine Taylor, emerges once again in one of her husband’s movies but this time she is really able to show the comedic prowess that we can only hope they pass on to their children.

Not to be outdone the supporting cast adds life to the film as well. Standing out among them is the foul-mouthed, sharp tongued Patches O’Houlihan (Rip Torn) who brings hilarity to every scene he is in until his unfortunate fight with the Luck of the Irish. Stephen Root’s Gordon is a less stressed out version of Milton from Office Space. Alan Tudyk’s Steve the Pirate is also another colorful, and memorable character from the film as a man who really believes he is a pirate.  All in all the entire cast is very strongly placed in their parts and it makes the movie gel all that much better.

Dodgeball is something I like to see during the summer months, an original concept in a sea of over-budgeted flops and inane Hollywood schlock. Dodgeball is a great example of a film that came to fruition because of a good idea and not the belief that dollar signs would follow. If you are looking for a laugh, complete with ball and crotch jokes, give Dodgeball a look, but if you want a feel good story…well, you might also want to check out Dodgeball.

Written by Erich Becker
Thirty-something with a love of everything we cover here, and a few things we don't. Erich has run Entertainmentopia since the site's inception in 1999, countless redesigns, a few crashes, and a lot of media later, here you have it!