DodgeBall: A True Underdog Story – 1 Star (Terrible)
Only in Hollywood could a really terrible film with Ben Stiller that cost $20 million to produce pull in $167 worldwide. Welcome to “DodgeBall: A True Underdog Story”, which Dreamworks and MGM passed on and Fox finally agreed to make when Stiller reduced his salary to less than a $1 million.
After seeing the unrated version of this comedic disaster, it would be difficult to recommend DodgeBall for viewing by youngsters at any rating.
There is a comedy in this script somewhere, but it will never rank as anything but a rank comedy with all of the unnecessary filthy language and sexual references that one might hear from teenage boys caught off guard in a public schoolyard.
Credit the writer/director of this film-Rawson Marshall Thurber-for the sophomoric script and juvenile directing. Thurber joins a host of other writer/directors who are totally beyond their ability in trying to write and direct the same film.
Thurber joins a not-so-exclusive club of fellow writer/directors who have fallen short, including Peter Weir for Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, Nancy Meyers for Something’s Gotta Give, Thomas Bezucha for The Family Stone, Michael McGowan for Saint Ralph, Jared Hess for Napoleon Dynamite, Robert Rodriquez for Once Upon a Time in Mexico, and Paul Thomas Anderson for Punch-Drunk Love. The worst of these is Punch-Drunk Love hands down.
If you want an excellent movie by a writer/director, try Secondhand Lions by Tim McCanlies or Waking Ned Devine by Kirk Jones.
DodgeBall is the story of two guys who own health fitness centers-the underachiever Peter La Fleur (Vince Vaughn) at Average Joe’s Gymnasium, and the egomanical White Goodman (Ben Stiller) at Global Gym. White hatches a plan to take over Peter’s operation with the help of bank employee Kate Veatch (Christine Taylor), who falls for Peter’s inept, unassuming charm.
To avoid being put out of business, Peter must come up with $50,000 and he, of course, doesn’t really have a cent to his name. It is up to his band of misfit clients to help bail Peter out. They include a self-styled pirate, a scrawny nerd with eyes for an unattainable cheerleader, a weird follower of obscure sports, a dim-witted young man, and a cocky know-it-all.
Their answer is to enter a national dodgeball tournament in Las Vegas and capture the $50,000 winner’s prize. Peter’s team ends up in the finals against White’s professional team and, well, you can surmise who wins in the end.
DodgeBall has cameo appearances by Lance Armstrong, Chuck Norris, William Shatner and David Hasselhoff.
DodgeBall was nominated as the Best Sports Movie by the ESPY Awards, the same year that “Million Dollar Baby” won an Oscar at the Academy Awards for the year’s Best Picture. Clint Eastwood won an Oscar the same year for Best Director of Million Dollar Baby.
On the other hand, Ben Stiller (as White Goodman) was nominated for a Razzie Award as the Worst Actor. That pretty well sums up Stiller’s performance.
In essence, DodgeBall is without substance as a fluffball contribution to comedy filmmaking and is probably best viewed by teenagers and young men.
Copyright © 2008 Ed Bagley
By Ed Bagley
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