Rated PG-13 for rude and sexual humor, and language.
Written and Directed By: Rawson Marshall Thurber
Staring: Vince Vaughn, Christine Taylor, Ben Stiller, Rip Torn, Justin Long, Stephen Root, Joel Moore, Chris Williams, Jason Bateman, and Alan Tudyk,
“Nobody makes me bleed my own blood – nobody!” -White Goodman
Dodgeball is the kind of movie that makes very little sense, but when it’s driven by Vince Vaughn and Ben Stiller at their absolute bests, along with a treasure trove of supporting comic actors, comedic bliss is the obvious result. Unlike Zoolander, Dodgeball allows Stiller to go off in the deep end because he is countered by character’s that might be loony, but are completely different than his over-the-top comedy. Dodgeball is a well balanced meal of comedy, nonsensical story telling, and bizarre characters doing strange things that only make sense in a movie like this.
A group of underachieving misfits belong to a gym that encourages chilling out, drinking beer, and pretty much the opposite of what most high end gyms reinforce. It plays on the idea that most people enjoy the “thought” of going to the gym and working out, rather than the actual act of doing it. The unfortunate result of their lack of profit is the inability to pay the gyms up-keeps and bills. When the super gym next door hears that the gum may be going under, the leader, one White Goodman is inclined to buy the property and turn it into a parking garage for his guests. Enraged at the aspect of losing their sanctuary, the group of underachievers unite and enter a Las Vegas dodgeball tournament with the hopes to win the money to save their gym from the evil empire that threatens to hinder all that is sacred to them.
As insane as some of the character exchanges are, and ridiculous as some of the situations are, the film stays grounded by it’s paper thin plot, which also is stretching the realm of plausibility, but pulls it off in spades. I have the tendency to have low tolerance for Ben Stiller or Vince Vaughn at times. Stiller often gets Jack Black syndrome and takes things too far, and Vaughn occasionally feels stagnant, as though he’s playing the same character again and again. This was not the case in Dodgeball . Vaughn came to life more than his usual completely dry sense of humor, and felt more like the guy from Swingers. Stiller was still on a hiatus of crazy, but it was managed and diluted enough by the director,Rawson Marshall Thurber, that it was never overwhelming or all at once. The supporting cast, with it’s oddball gym supporters and the gorgeous Christine Taylor all complemented each other while still bringing an individual influence and energy to the movie.
The audience can expect a ton of outrageous slap stick comedy, but while some movies integrate slap stick at inappropriate times or distracting moments, Dodgeball fully utilizes the necessity for it. There is a consistent display of awkwardness with each of our main characters, and engaging in a physical “sport” foreshadows much pain and suffering. There are moments where the bumps and trips are expected but every occasion when least expected something utterly insane will happen to one of our characters making the shock value only add to the funny.
There was a lot of individual elements of Dodgeball that wouldn’t have worked on their own, but when meshed together make for a delirious display of properly restrained comedy. The strengths of each actor and elements of the story were highlighted, making an unforgettable movie worth giving two hours of your time to again and again. Dodgeball is one of the few success stories in this genre of mindless slapstick comedies, and it’s always a relief to walk away smiling from ear to ear. This one is a keeper.