Dodgeball A True Underdog Story
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E dir-scr Rawson Marshall Thurber
with Vince Vaughn, Ben Stiller, Christine Taylor, Rip Torn, Justin Long, Alan Tudyk, Stephen Root, Joel David Moore, Chris Williams, Missi Pyle, Jamal E Duff, Trever O'Brien, Gary Cole, Jason Bateman, William Shatner, Lance Armstrong, Hank Azaria, Curtis Armstrong, David Hasselhoff, Chuck Norris
release US 18.Jun.04,
UK 27.Aug.04
04/US 1h29

Engaging with the enemy: Stiller and Vaughn

vaughn and stiller
Dodgeball Support Shadows: Buy a Poster
With its constant flood of tasteless jokes, only a small percentage of which actually make us laugh, this uneven comedy about losers who get a chance to reclaim their lives feels a lot like a Farrelly brothers movie. It helps to have energetic and gifted actors, but you really need to give them funnier things to do and say.

Peter (Vaughn) is about to lose his scruffy Average Joe's Gym to bankruptcy, much to the delight of his big-mouthed, high-tech competitor (Stiller) across the street. To save Average Joe's Peter needs a lot of money, so he and his staff (geeky-teen Long, chubby-dork Root, nerd Moore, nice-guy Williams and, erm, pirate-wannabe Tudyk) enter a dodgeball championship to win the prize money. He gets some help from the hottie bank officer (Taylor) assigned to his case, as well as a has-been coach (Torn), but it'll take a miracle to win, won't it?

Of course it will, but since this is a comedy, we're never in the slightest doubt where it's going, even though the script throws in every wrench imaginable. Alas, the film is loud and crass rather than actually funny; most of the jokes are of the 'hit in the face with a flying wrench' school. And even the gifted Stiller (camping it up outrageously) can't quite save it, although his pompous dialog is often genuinely funny, in a cringeworthy sort of way. Vaughn is charming in his everyman mode; Taylor gets the glamorous, non-embarrassing role; and the rest of the cast have their moments amid the slapstick mayhem.

But it's just not clever enough to hang together on any level. Undemanding viewers just craving brainless stupidity might find enough to keep them chuckling continuously, but for those of us who want more from our comedies (especially one with such promising cast members), a smart joke every 10 minutes and a bunch of witty cameos (Lance Armstrong being my favourite) just isn't enough.

cert 12 themes, language, vulgarity, innuendo 14.Jul.04

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... Dodgeball Dodgeball Dodgeball Scott, Inverness, UK: 4/5 "This was one of the funniest comedies of the year, possibly Stillers best (who Ive never thought has ever been that funny in anything other than the equally ridiculous yet highly amusing Mystery Men). Dodgeball however is miles ahead of the latter and any other fairly recent attempts to win over the public - with not so comedic efforts such as Zoolander, which just never quite hit the right mark. Dodgeball on the other hand borders on just all-out ridiculous and, while it isnt that big or clever, goes to prove that someone being hit over the head constantly with a ball at the right moment really can be (and always has been?) excrutiatingly funny. An american comedy that can actually make you laugh? Now that is a change. Also check out Baseketball, from the creators of South Park - not for everyone as you can imagine, but along similar lines." (30.Oct.05)
2004 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall