Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story

Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story is better than it has any right being. Still, it is barely worth watching, aided only by a no-stop barrage of jokes and cameos. With so many things going on, enough work to barely make the film watchable. The issue is that Dodgeball runs through a slew of toilet humor and homophobia, appealing to a very adolescent sense of humor. There is nothing inherently wrong with that, but the film never tries to do anything clever, it just wants to be stupid. Surprisingly, there is a story, but along with everything else, it's pretty slim and pointless. It seems like nothing more than an excuse to slip in the aforementioned cameos and jokes. It's like a sitcom gone long, cramming in as much as possible.

It's been a pretty bad year for Ben Stiller (Envy, Starsky & Hutch), who is already on his fourth film, most of them not worth watching. Dodgeball is probably the best of the bunch (not a great distinction), but it is not because of him. As White Goodman, Stiller overacts his way through the film a la Zoolander. Goodman is the buffed up, stupid, egotistical owner of Globo Gym, a narcissistic chain of gyms catering to the beautiful. They are in the process of taking over Average Joe's, a gym owned by everyman Peter La Fleur (Vince Vaughn, Starsky & Hutch, Old School). Average Joe's falls on the opposite end of the spectrum from Globo Gym; they cater to the wimpy nerds, fat guys, and other assorted outcasts. La Fleur has a short amount of time to raise $50,000, else the bank forecloses on his gym, and Gordon (Stephen Root, Jersey Girl, The Ladykillers) suggests they enter a dodgeball tournament to win the money.

Goodman hears of this, and decides to enter just to beat him. With the help of dodgeball legend Patches O'Houlihan (Rip Torn, Welcome to Mooseport, Men in Black II), La Fleur manages to get into the tournament and slowly work his way up. He even convinces bank lawyer Kate Veatch (Christine Taylor, Dickie Roberts, Zoolander) to join. This incenses Goodman more, because he was trying to woo her before she violently rebuffs him. The first part of the film is O'Houlihan trying to train them by doing things like throwing wrenches at them, and the second half is the tournament in Vegas. Throughout most of the film is an abundance of players being hit in the crotch. It wasn't that funny the first few times and doesn't get funnier after the sixty-third time.

This is the first film for writer/director Rawson Marshall Thurber. His previous claim to fame was the Terry Tate, Office Linebacker short. One can how he extrapolated his comedy in the short to feature film length. Dodgeball has an anarchic feel to it, with many things happening for no reason. It's like a bunch of commercials strung together with a vaguely common theme, slowly advancing a story. Some of the jokes work, many don't. But things move quickly enough that the especially bad ones are quickly overwhelmed with other material. It is quantity over quality. Few cameos work (Lance Armstrong), most of them don't (Chuck Norris, William Shatner, David Hasselhoff). Every one of the Average Joe's is nothing more than a stereotype (along with some really random things like a guy who thinks he's a pirate) that can provide a few tasteless jokes. The amazing thing is that Thurber could have done much worse. It's not saying much, but oh well.

Haro Rates It: Okay.
1 hour, 37 minutes, Rated PG-13 for rude and sexual humor, and language.

Back to Movies