(2004)   

Alan:

Ebert: New York Times:1/2 TV Guide:



Warning, minor plot points revealed!

So far, Dodgeball is the funniest movie of 2004 and I'm not sure if anything will be more hilarious.  I really really loved this movie and was laughing almost non-stop all the way through.  So I hereby proclaim that this month's Ben Stiller movie is a resounding success.  The only other Ben Stiller movie that came out this year that even compares would be Starsky and Hutch, but this one's a little better and the best part is that the commercials and previews did not show all the best jokes.  There's tons more that you will only see if you go to the movie and I highly recommend that you do!

This is a perfect comedy.  It has all the formulaic requirements of the genre and even some of the standard sports movie elements mixed in as well.  And it's about dodgeball!  

I actually saw or read a news story recently about pick-up dodgeball games that are popping up as a yuppie workout trend.  They even play them at night in elementary school gyms.  If I was at all energetic I would seek one of these games out.  I remember loving dodgeball when I was a kid even though I wasn't good at it.  I was one of the weaker kids who could dodge but couldn't catch or throw.   

Peter La Fleur is an absent minded but good natured guy who owns a local gym called Average Joes.  White Goodman is a famous and  arrogant health and self improvement psycho who owns the corporate Globo Gym franchise across the street.  Peter has let his lease fall behind with the bank and White plans to buy out Peter and tear down Average Joes to make a new parking lot for Globo Gym.  The only way that Peter and his nerdy gym-mates can save the gym is by competing in the national dodgeball championships in Vegas for the $50,000 grand prize that will pay off the bank.  The only problem is that the Average Joes don't know how to play and White has formed a ringer team of his own.

This movie has an outstanding cast and some great guest appearances.  First of all Vince Vaughn is awesome as Peter La Fleur.  This is his best movie since Swingers.   He was funny in Starsky and Hutch but he's way better in this one.  Ben Stiller is funny as usual but this is one of the rare times where you get to see him play an actual over the top character instead of his usual put upon neurotic everyman.  It was fun for a change to see him in a role where he was playing something other than what I've always assumed to be himself.  Christine Taylor, (aka. Marcia Brady from the Brady Bunch movies) is super pretty and perfect in the straight role as the bank employee who attracts both Peter and White's attention.  Because she is married to Ben Stiller in real life I can only imagine that there were probably 100's of bloopers of her cracking up when Stiller as White tries to make his moves on her.  

Other big names in the cast include Rip Torn as dodgeball coach Patches O'Houlihan.  The young Patches, seen in an old dodgeball training film, is played by The Simpsons  Hank Azaria.  Patches is a great character and his training methods provide some of the funniest moments in the film.  Next we have the Office Space reunion of Milton and Lumbergh with Stephen Root and Gary Cole.  Root plays a Milton-type guy who works out at Average Joes and Cole is awesome as Cotton McKnight, one of the dodgeball tournament commentators.  His co-commentator is Pepper Brooks, played by Jason Bateman who also had a funny part Starsky and HutchNow that I think of it they must have made this film and Starsky and Hutch at the same time since so many of the cast members are the same.  There's also a couple of funny cameo's that I won't spoil here.  

The last person that I will comment on is Joel Moore.  Joel is no big actor and the only place you've probably seen him before is on a number of TV commercials.  Most recently he was on those annoying phone ads where he says "I call it my, 'they're my minutes and I'm keeping them' plan!"  For no apparent reason what so ever, I hate this guy.  I even tried to write a little article about him in my seldom updated Things I Hate section a few months ago but I didn't know his name and I didn't think anyone would know who I as talking about.  I have no reason for hating him.  He's been in a lot of commercials over the last few years and there's just something about him that bugs me.   I can't explain it.  Fortunately for Joel, his geekiness is perfect for this movie and he is very funny in the role.  So I absolve him, for now. 

Anyway, there's not much more I can say.  Dodgeball is a super-terrific summer comedy and I think everyone who ever picked up one of those red rubber balls in school gym class will love it.  It's also the best Ben Stiller movie of the month so you better hurry up and see it before his uncredited appearance in Anchorman next month.