While Tom Hanks is tearing up the big screen with the witty comedy The Terminal, Ben Stiller and Vince Vaughn square off in Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story, a comedy that... well, isn't nearly as witty.
The film, about a group of misfits that are attempting to save their gym by competing in a dodgeball tournament for $50,000, definitely relies on cheap and cliché laughs to get to the audience, but, regardless, is effective in doing such. Most of its jokes aren't clever, and some are just plain stupid (not ha-ha stupid), but Dodgeball is entertaining enough to whet the appetite of an audience looking for a dumb comedy.
Admittedly, Dodgeball does have some "smarter" jokes thrown in there for good measure, such as the broadcast channel for the tournament - ESPN8, also known as "The Ocho." A cameo appearance by Lance Armstrong is also quite genuine (In summary: "You're quitting? I thought about quitting once, after I found out that I had lung, testicular and brain cancer... all at the same time. How are you dying?").
At another level, Ben Stiller and Rip Torn deliver some great performances, in turn by delivering some absolutely silly lines that these two men pull of with ease. Stiller, actually playing a character that isn't lacking confidence for a change (meaning he is playing a different character for perhaps the first time in his career), is stupidity and muscle all rolled into one, and boy is he great. He commands every scene that he is in. Equally, Torn gets some absolutely beautiful lines of dialogue, such as, "Well, you don't have to drink your own urine, but I do it any way!" Vince Vaughn is funny but not used to his full potential.
Dodgeball is good for a few laughs, but it never hides the fact that it is doing so by the lamest means possible. The movie makes for good watching once or twice, but it is a bit too stupid to offer up much replay value. It is good to see with a bunch of friends, but with your parents... definitely not.
It would have been nice to get a little more out of Dodgeball, but at the same time, it delivered exactly what I was expecting - a silly, stupid film with little redeeming value but funny scenes nonetheless.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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