Browsing Tag

You’ve got to give it to A&E for trying something new in the way of reality shows and sporting events. Sure, Roller Derby is nothing new, and the thought of beautiful women skating around in short shorts and beating on each other should get any warm-blooded American man on his feet, but the show fails to capture most of the excitement I’m sure the matches are lush with.

The program is typically split into two parts, the first 20 minutes focuses on the two teams who will be competing in about a week’s time and how the players interact with their families, competitors, and each other on and off the derby rink. This is where the show falls into the same curse as failed projects like FOX’s The Casino, you just don’t really care for the characters when they aren’t being tested to eat monkey testicles or participating in an amazing race.

This isn’t to say the people participating on the show aren’t interesting, that’s far from the point, but the show has constantly billed them as the average-girl-next-door with a day job and that’s really what’s just outside your living room window, the girl next door going to work. The producers try to bring us into the lives of a focuses individual during the course of an episode (usually one or two from each team) in order to add some extra baggage to the win or loss, but these typically don’t increase the interest level by much without sitting down and being able to watch ever episode in the series.

The second half of each episode focuses on the actual Roller Derby match previewed in the previous segment. For the uninitiated the two announcers, who look suspiciously out of place, go over the rules of scoring points. As the match goes on through four quarters the editing makes it usually seem a lot closer that it might be, but there’s plenty of wipe-outs and girl-on-girl bashing in the latter 20 minutes of each episode.

With the plethora of reality shows on TV today, it’s nice to see something that isn’t a complete rip off from the three or four successful ones, but in all actuality, the genre is finally starting to mature to the point where you really have to stand out to get noticed. Rollergirls stands out in the fact it’s the only place to see Roller Derby on TV, but it also throws itself under the bus by underutilizing that fact and instead focuses on the everyday lives of the individuals.

The show is interesting, and it won’t bore you to tears, but like the famous word’s of The Guide it’s simply “mostly harmless.” You’ll watch it, and you might even enjoy yourself, but after it is said and done, you’ll have forgotten about it in a week if you’re not a die hard fan of Roller Derby or know someone on the show.

Rollergirls airs on A&E, check your local listings for channel,

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.