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2 items from 2004


Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story

9 July 2004 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

Buried under several layers of crass humor, a wickedly funny satire about sports movies struggles to free itself in "Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story."

In his feature debut, writer-director Rawson Marshall Thurber comes up with the right idea -- a movie that could do for the pretty useless sport of dodgeball what "Best in Show" did for dog shows -- but the wrong execution. For this piece of juvenilia all too willingly embraces the team motto of the movie's heroes: Aim low.

A pity, though, because underdog sports movies from "The Bad News Bears" to "The Mighty Ducks" could have stood a bit of good-natured ribbing. Aiming low should take in a wide demographic among young audiences, especially males with dates in tow, to achieve boxoffice success for at least a couple of weeks, then move on to the home rental market for frat-house parties and the like.

The film's hero and villain are classic comedy figures. Vince Vaughn's amiable underachiever Peter La Fleur, clearly modeled after Bill Murray's early comedy roles, operates a rundown gym called Average Joe's, where bookkeeping is nonexistent -- he hasn't bothered to collect membership dues in months -- and the clientele consists mostly of the kind of men who seldom frequent gyms. We're talking geeks, obsessive personalities and 95-pound weaklings who dream about girls but are lucky to land a date with an inflatable doll. Directly across the street is the sleek Globo Gym, crowded with beautiful, buffed bodies and run by the egomaniacal yet hugely insecure White Goodman, played to the hilt by Ben Stiller with a fake tan, Fu Manchu mustache and hair blow-dried to perfection.

The bank is about to foreclose on Average Joe's, having taken the precaution of installing attorney Kate Veatch (Christine Taylor) to facilitate the process. Eager to acquire the property and turn it into a parking lot is White. To stave off the inevitable, Peter must come up with $50,000 in a month.

Then Peter learns of a Las Vegas dodgeball tournament with a $50,000 prize from gym rat Gordon (Stephen Root), who gleans this news from the pages of Obscure Sports Quarterly. Peter reluctantly organizes a team of misfit dodgeball players from the gym, which consists of the hapless Gordon; Steve (Alan Tudyk), a guy convinced that he is a pirate; Justin (Justin Long), who obsesses over an unapproachable cheerleader; Owen (Joel David Moore), who is exceptionally dim; and Dwight (Chris Williams), an earnest know-it-all.

In the tradition of all sports movies, along comes an aging but tough coach determined to mold these misfits into heroes. This would be Rip Torn's Patches O'Houlihan, a foul, demented, wheelchair-bound dodgeball legend whose idea of training is to throw monkey wrenches at players. They will learn to dodge objects or suffer the painful consequences.

White, believing himself to be a sex machine, makes enough passes at a nauseated Kate that soon she is off the bankruptcy case and on Average Joe's team, where her former softball pitching serves her well. Everyone winds up in Vegas for a grudge match against Globo's all-star team, which is broadcast by ESPN 8, a cable network that boasts, "If it's almost a sport, we have it here!"

In outline, the story is pretty funny, and the film's outlandish takes on sports-movie conventions deliver some laughs. But Thurber chooses the low road to those laughs so often that he undermines his own satirical design. His actors certainly deliver amusing, spirited performances, but again, they get done in by relentless adolescent humor.

The film does score satiric hits in its send-up of the sports media, which includes Globo Gym's infomercial and ESPN 8's graphics and hype-hype-hype broadcasters (Gary Cole and Jason Bateman). Timely and very funny cameos by Lance Armstrong and Chuck Norris point up how bright this movie could have been.

Cinematography, production design and costumes suit the mood, poking fun at our national obsession with looks and fitness.

DODGEBALL: A TRUE UNDERDOG STORY

20th Century Fox

20th Century Fox presents in association with Mediastream IVa Red Hour production

Credits: Screenwriter-director: Rawson Marshall Thurber

Producers: Ben Stiller, Stuart Cornfeld

Executive producers: Mary McLaglen, Rhoades Rader

Director of photography: Jerzy Zielinski

Production designer: Maher Ahmad

Music: Theodore Shapiro

Costume designer: Carol Ramsey

Editor: Alan Baumgarten. Cast: White Goodman: Ben Stiller

Peter La Fleur: Vince Vaughn

Kate Veatch: Christine Taylor

Patches: Rip Torn

Justin: Justin Long

Gordon: Stephen Root

Owen: Joel David Moore

Dwight: Chris Williams

Steve the Pirate: Alan Tukyk

Fran: Missi Pyle

Me'Shell Jones: Jamal E. Duff

MPAA rating PG-13

Running time -- 91 minutes »

Permalink | Report a problem


Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story

18 June 2004 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

Buried under several layers of crass humor, a wickedly funny satire about sports movies struggles to free itself in "Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story."

In his feature debut, writer-director Rawson Marshall Thurber comes up with the right idea -- a movie that could do for the pretty useless sport of dodgeball what "Best in Show" did for dog shows -- but the wrong execution. For this piece of juvenilia all too willingly embraces the team motto of the movie's heroes: Aim low.

A pity, though, because underdog sports movies from "The Bad News Bears" to "The Mighty Ducks" could have stood a bit of good-natured ribbing. Aiming low should take in a wide demographic among young audiences, especially males with dates in tow, to achieve boxoffice success for at least a couple of weeks, then move on to the home rental market for frat-house parties and the like.

The film's hero and villain are classic comedy figures. Vince Vaughn's amiable underachiever Peter La Fleur, clearly modeled after Bill Murray's early comedy roles, operates a rundown gym called Average Joe's, where bookkeeping is nonexistent -- he hasn't bothered to collect membership dues in months -- and the clientele consists mostly of the kind of men who seldom frequent gyms. We're talking geeks, obsessive personalities and 95-pound weaklings who dream about girls but are lucky to land a date with an inflatable doll. Directly across the street is the sleek Globo Gym, crowded with beautiful, buffed bodies and run by the egomaniacal yet hugely insecure White Goodman, played to the hilt by Ben Stiller with a fake tan, Fu Manchu mustache and hair blow-dried to perfection.

The bank is about to foreclose on Average Joe's, having taken the precaution of installing attorney Kate Veatch (Christine Taylor) to facilitate the process. Eager to acquire the property and turn it into a parking lot is White. To stave off the inevitable, Peter must come up with $50,000 in a month.

Then Peter learns of a Las Vegas dodgeball tournament with a $50,000 prize from gym rat Gordon (Stephen Root), who gleans this news from the pages of Obscure Sports Quarterly. Peter reluctantly organizes a team of misfit dodgeball players from the gym, which consists of the hapless Gordon; Steve (Alan Tudyk), a guy convinced that he is a pirate; Justin (Justin Long), who obsesses over an unapproachable cheerleader; Owen (Joel David Moore), who is exceptionally dim; and Dwight (Chris Williams), an earnest know-it-all.

In the tradition of all sports movies, along comes an aging but tough coach determined to mold these misfits into heroes. This would be Rip Torn's Patches O'Houlihan, a foul, demented, wheelchair-bound dodgeball legend whose idea of training is to throw monkey wrenches at players. They will learn to dodge objects or suffer the painful consequences.

White, believing himself to be a sex machine, makes enough passes at a nauseated Kate that soon she is off the bankruptcy case and on Average Joe's team, where her former softball pitching serves her well. Everyone winds up in Vegas for a grudge match against Globo's all-star team, which is broadcast by ESPN 8, a cable network that boasts, "If it's almost a sport, we have it here!"

In outline, the story is pretty funny, and the film's outlandish takes on sports-movie conventions deliver some laughs. But Thurber chooses the low road to those laughs so often that he undermines his own satirical design. His actors certainly deliver amusing, spirited performances, but again, they get done in by relentless adolescent humor.

The film does score satiric hits in its send-up of the sports media, which includes Globo Gym's infomercial and ESPN 8's graphics and hype-hype-hype broadcasters (Gary Cole and Jason Bateman). Timely and very funny cameos by Lance Armstrong and Chuck Norris point up how bright this movie could have been.

Cinematography, production design and costumes suit the mood, poking fun at our national obsession with looks and fitness.

DODGEBALL: A TRUE UNDERDOG STORY

20th Century Fox

20th Century Fox presents in association with Mediastream IVa Red Hour production

Credits: Screenwriter-director: Rawson Marshall Thurber

Producers: Ben Stiller, Stuart Cornfeld

Executive producers: Mary McLaglen, Rhoades Rader

Director of photography: Jerzy Zielinski

Production designer: Maher Ahmad

Music: Theodore Shapiro

Costume designer: Carol Ramsey

Editor: Alan Baumgarten. Cast: White Goodman: Ben Stiller

Peter La Fleur: Vince Vaughn

Kate Veatch: Christine Taylor

Patches: Rip Torn

Justin: Justin Long

Gordon: Stephen Root

Owen: Joel David Moore

Dwight: Chris Williams

Steve the Pirate: Alan Tukyk

Fran: Missi Pyle

Me'Shell Jones: Jamal E. Duff

MPAA rating PG-13

Running time -- 91 minutes »

Permalink | Report a problem


2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2008 | 2007 | 2004 | 1998

2 items from 2004


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