Published Jun 01, 2004Ben Stiller and Vince Vaughn seem to be cranking out a new film every other month, continually building on the recent successes both have had in their offbeat comedies. The two pair up again in Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story but this time they flip roles, branching off a little from past typecasts.
Vaughn plays Peter La Fleur, a down and out owner of a troubled gym that's about to be run into the ground by Stiller's White Goodman, the villainous fitness millionaire next door who is possessed by his own image and financial power. La Fleur learns from Kate (the sexy lawyer working his case) that he needs to come up with 50 grand in order to save his humble gym. Coincidentally, he and his co-workers learn that there's a dodgeball tournament with a first prize of, wait for it, 50,000 dollars. Couldn't they have at least tried to not make it the exact amount needed to save the day?
These underdogs quickly get into shape with the help of a mildly insane dodgeball legend (Brian Cox) and miraculously make it to the world finals by learning how to dodge everything from wrenches to oncoming traffic. In the process there's a battle for Kate's affections between Peter and White that includes some of the film's best dialogue, as the dim-witted muscle head White confuses himself with his misfired verbal comebacks. Of course there's a wide range of colourful characters, some coming in the form of opposing dodgeball competitors, or even team-mates like Steve the Pirate. Why did this film feel the need to have a character that thinks he's a pirate?
Dodgeball is very simplistic and follows a standard formula when it comes to penning a script about a sports team that takes everyone by surprise. They don't even try to do anything different than what you've seen in underdog films of the last 20 years. Stiller and Vaughn are hilarious as usual, but it's another case of comedic talent doing the most they can to save a weak script, dropping amusing one-liners in-between massive amounts of slapstick. Even though this film is guaranteed several cheap laughs, and some large ones (Lance Armstrong's cameo is priceless), these two actors need to return to more challenging roles rather than giving into yet another mediocre attempt to bring in the easily amused fans. (Fox)