innocent_man: (calvin)
[personal profile] innocent_man
Dodgeball is a comedy starring Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Justin Long and Christine Taylor (with a whole lot of support from other folks) in which, to save his ratty-ass gym, a man plays dodgeball.

Peter (Vaughn) is an unambitious loser. He owns a gym, yeah, but he can't be bothered to get membership dues from folks, and it's mostly his friends that work out there. Across the street is GloboGym, a corporate chain-gym dripping with quasi-nazi imagery, overseen by White Goodman (Stiller, in one of my favorite of his roles). Peter realizes how dire things have really gotten when Katherine Veach (Taylor) shows up to go over his accounts before the bank forecloses on his gym.

Peter is pretty much ready to throw in the towel (seriously, you feel like he's almost relieved), but his buddies, led by Gordon (Stephen Root) figure out that if they win the dodgeball championship in Vegas, they'll get the money they need. Coached by former dodgeball champ Patches O'Houlihan (played in flashback by Hank Azaria and in the present by Rip Torn), they get to work.

The movie is supposed to be a sendup of every sports movie in which the underdog triumphs, and it both succeeds and fails.

It succeeds because it's funny as hell. The cameos, Justin Bateman as a commentator especially, are hilarious. The chemistry among the cast is fantastic. Stiller is awesome as a completely stupid and completely evil corporate mogul, but you can't ever quite completely hate him, at least not as much as he hates himself. Vaughn manages to portray a guy with no real ambition who realizes that, like it or not, people look up to him and that means he's got some responsibility. Taylor is fairly memorable as Girlfriend, and it's nice that when Goodman touches her without consent, she's the one that kicks his ass. Justin Long gets abused throughout the movie and that's fun to watch.

Also, the movie isn't a parody. It's not "Sports Movie" (thank god), and it's not a retelling of other movies. Like Airplane! and Blazing Saddles, it spoofs a genre rather than a series of specific movie moments.

However, it has some issues, and it's mostly to do with what they cut. Goodman has a speech about how this whole thing has become a metaphor, and it's a metaphor he refuses to lose. The movie would have benefited from that, as well as from other bits that were cut in which the secondary characters come into their own. Stephen Root, for instance, never gets to face down his horrible wife, and Owen (Joel David Moore) never gets his moment of passion with the woman on the Globo team that he falls for, because those moments hit the cutting room floor. The movie isn't that long, and adding those bits back in would have improved it enough to justify them.

But, like I said, the movie is funny, and the best humor is the most subtle (for example: Pretty much everything Gary Cole, the other commentator, says). Well worth watching.

Oh, and am I the only dude who enjoyed dodgeball as a kid? We did use Nerf balls, of course, not those horrible red ones, which as Sarah points out, are Satan.

My Grade: A-
Rewatch value: High

Next up: Dog Soldiers

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January 2013

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