After watching DodgeBall: A True Underdog Story, I cannot decide which part I found the best or funniest. Was it Rip Torn playing a vulgar and crazy dodgeball coach, Jason Bateman as a slacker sports commentator, or possibly one of the many big-name cameos that appear throughout? For most of the film, I had a smile on my face.
The story, (possibly the film’s weak-point), is very basic. There are two people who own gyms on the same street. The big, successful, chain gym is owned by White Goodman (Ben Stiller). He plays our villain. The local gym that allows anyone in, while not even requiring payment, is owned by Peter La Fleur (Vince Vaughn). One day, La Fleur walks into his office and finds a lawyer named Kate (Christine Taylor) waiting for him.
He is told that he must pay off the entire mortgage on his gym in 30 days, or Goodman will buy it from the bank. He needs $50,000, money that he doesn’t have. One of the people at the gym suggests that they enter a dodgeball tournament, with the grand prize being, coincidentally, the exact amount of money that La Fleur needs to save his gym. Big surprise there, right? Oh yeah, and Goodman, the guy who owns the other gym, he’s also got a team that is entering the tournament.
So La Fleur and his bunch of misfit teammates enter the dodgeball tournament. Or at least, have ambitions of entering. They end up being coached by Patches O’Houlihan (Rip Torn), someone who makes them concentrate on the “5 D’s of DodgeBall: Dodge, Duck, Dip, Dive and Dodge (again)”. No, I didn’t find that funny either. But Torn has a natural charm that made me like him, even though his character isn’t all that likable. I guess that it’s just because he’s so different from everyone else in the film that makes him enjoyable to watch.
Take, for example, La Fleur and his teammates. Vaughn plays him as an incredibly nice person, never getting mad or cussing out people who wrong him. But we have other characters doing the same thing. Oh, sure, they have a man who dresses and acts like a pirate, a high-school student who wants to be a cheerleader, and a nerdy character, but they’re all nice guys. Ben Stiller has a nice take on the “macho man” philosophy, being incredibly over-the-top whenever he appears. And yet, his teammates are also muscle-obsessed. They don’t get the same amount of screen time as Stiller, but their characters are all similar.
Most of the laughs in DodgeBall come from the dialogue, not from the situations. The plot doesn’t allow for much in the way of unique or crazy situations or events, as almost all of the action takes place in either a gym or a professional dodgeball arena. The dialogue exchanges between the characters — whether it be Vince Vaughn remaining oblivious and stone-faced in every situation, Ben Stiller acting as crazy as possible, or the vulgarity that comes from Rip Torn — are the funniest parts of the film. Actually, it’s more like the only funny parts of the film, but there are enough comedic moments to keep you entertained and laughing throughout.
I mentioned earlier that there are big-name cameos scattered throughout the film. I did not say that these are all acting cameos though. There’s one in particular that is inspiring and humorous, but the cameo is not of an actor. There are others that are actors; David Hasselhoff appears, as does William Shatner, but I’ll let you watch and find out what role they play. Every time one of them appears on-screen, you’ll feel giddy, because you know that they’re saving a bigger appearance for later on. Or at least, you’ll feel that way now, because you are now aware that there are bigger surprises later on in the film.
It’s hard for a film with a plot as basic as DodgeBall‘s to still maintain interest, but it manages to here. There is nothing new about it, and there probably won’t be a single surprising moment, but it’s inspiring and it doesn’t have any real problems, so it does its job. And since that job is to give us a reason for people to tell jokes and one-liners, judging its success comes from if you’ll laugh. You probably will. At least, you will if you aren’t looking for high-brow humor, and are perfectly okay with laughing at some potentially cringe-inducing jokes.
DodgeBall: A True Underdog Story is a funny movie. It’s a film with a plot that only exists to set-up the inspirational speeches and jokes that are scattered throughout, but the plot is watchable. The performances, while all similar to one or more other characters, are good, and the jokes will usually make you laugh. If you want the main reason to watch DodgeBall, it’s to see the numerous amounts of cameos from famous people. Trust me, they’re worth it.