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Overall Rating

Awesome: 29.05%
Worth A Look52.7%
Average: 10.14%
Pretty Bad: 2.03%
Total Crap: 6.08%

9 reviews, 94 user ratings

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Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story
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by Scott Weinberg

"I loved every last frame of this inspired little sports comedy."
5 stars

On my way home from enjoying the living hell out of "Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story" I realized that it was one of the best comedies to come out of Hollywood in about five years, and that I was as enthusiastic about recommending it as I could possibly be. This movie was a huge surprise, laden with laughs both truly silly and oddly subtle. It's an absolute joy to sit through, and the fact that it's basically a throwaway little sports comedy means very little. "Caddyshack" is a throwaway little sports comedy, too, and "Dodgeball" is perhaps the best movie of its kind since Harold Ramis' classic golf farce from 1980.

"You're going to give Dodgeball five stars?" is a question I've heard from a few colleagues, and the simple answer is "Yep!" I think it's of paramount importance to judge a movie based on the filmmakers' intentions. Clearly, Dodgeball is not Dangerous Liaisons, but judged solely on what it is (a rather juvenile slapstick sports comedy), Dodgeball is an entirely successful experiment and the first comedy to offer wall-to-wall laughs in quite some time.

The plot is a paper-thin affair that recalls the classic old "slobs vs. snobs" sub-genre we all love so much. Peter Lefleur (Vince Vaughn) needs a quick cash infusion so he can save his decrepit little gym from bankruptcy. White Goodman (Ben Stiller) owns the mammoth high-tech gym across the street, and hopes to bulldoze Peter's place to make room for a parking lot.

Luckily there's an upcoming dodgeball tournament that offers a $50,000 cash prize - and $50,000 is precisely what Pete needs to placate the bankers! How lucky! So now the enthusiastic losers that populate Average Joe's gym must learn the ins and outs of dodgeball while avoiding the hilariously nefarious wrath of Mr. Goodman.

If this all sounds fairly familiar, that's because Dodgeball is, in addition to a supremely silly slapstick affair, a canny and clever satire of Sports Flicks in general. The humor ranges from broad and physical to base and vulgar, but I distinctly remember hearing an off-the cuff gag about schaudenfraude, too. There's a raucous glee and zealous giddiness to the whole movie, and it's an attitude that implies a group of actors who are clearly having a good time in front of the camera. And actors only seem to be having a good time in front of the cameras when they're confident that what they're making is actually funny.

One could be forgiven for perhaps turning their nose up at whatever happens to be "the latest Ben Stiller movie". Although he's clearly a truly funny man, Ben's been featured in some bona-fide garbage over the last several months. (Envy? Duplex? C'mon, Ben!) So it's very satisfying to announce that Stiller's work here is the best work he's done since There's Something About Mary, diving into the comedic villain role with palpable glee. Shedding his oft-worn sheen of likable nebbishness, Stiller creates a blustery blowhard who's both easy to hate and drop-dead hilarious.

Capably serving as a counter-balance to Stiller's rabid presence is Vince Vaughn, who smoothly delivers his most comfortable performance since Swingers. It's as if Vaughn took the role of Lovable & Sarcastic Schnook to heart, studied the early works of Bill Murray, and showed up on the set ready to shine. Vaughn's as likable here as he's ever been, earning a solid parcel of laughs through sheer force of personality.

One of the more annoying detriments of most Stiller / Vaughn comedies is that the leads generally hog all the laughs, and such is is absolutely not the case in Dodgeball. Although the two leads are clearly the centers of attention, there's a ensemble full of giddy goons, all of whom get their own chance to shine. Rip Torn steals a few scenes as a gruff and violent dodgeball coach; Stephen Root (once again) proves himself one of Hollywood's funniest character actors; Alan Tudyk snatches a few bizarre giggles playing a guy convinced he's a pirate; Christine Taylor (Mrs. Ben Stiller) presents herself as a capable comedienne by holding her own among all these lunatics; Gary Cole and Jason Bateman show up late in the game to deliver some truly terrific bits as anchormen for ESPN8 ("The Ocho!")... heck, even the minor little cameo bits (from the likes of Hank Azaria, William Shatner and David Hasselhoff) earn bona-fide chuckles across the board.

And it's that simple formula that makes Dodgeball worthy of my most stunned and enthusiastic reaction: the movie is consistently funny for 90 straight minutes. How many other recent comedies can make that claim? Yes, it's frequently silly and more than a little doofy, but one suspects that first-time writer/director Rawson Marshall Thurber knows full well how unapologetically slap-happy his movie is. That's the movie he was trying to make.

Since comedy is the most subjective of all the genres, your own giggle mileage may of course vary. But speaking as a guy who's grown more than a little weary of the formula fare, "Dodgeball" is a crazy, colorful and effortlessly funny film. I had an absolute ball with "Dodgeball", I laughed throughout the whole thing, and I left the theater on a chuckle-induced buzz. To me that's worthy of a 5-star rating every time.

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originally posted: 06/18/04 15:01:58
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User Comments

5/12/11 RLan I was happily surprised by how much I liked this movie. 4 stars
5/06/11 dupadoit it rules 4 stars
12/19/09 Jeff Wilder Hilarious spoof of those underdog sports movies. 4 stars
7/19/09 MP Bartley Plenty of good-natured belly laughs and a fairly compelling sports film underneath. 4 stars
7/08/09 *Holy_J@lapeno* Had its funny moments. The ending was pretty predictable but a good overall movie 4 stars
10/02/08 Shaun Wallner This film is hilarious!! 5 stars
3/22/08 Pamela White average Joes rule the world 4 stars
6/20/07 johnnyfog Thanks, Chuck Norris 5 stars
2/07/07 AJ Muller Straight up brings the funny; I laughed my ass off - "Pepper needs new shorts!" 5 stars
1/12/07 R.W.Welch C+ gagfest. Mostly on target, occasionally overshoots. 3 stars
12/05/06 Stanley Thai It's funny. It's crude. It's a good film... 4 stars
10/03/06 bullit16 Outstanding! 5 stars
5/06/06 Cuenzie Wunzie Hilariously great A+ comedy 5 stars
3/19/06 Jim An employment program for out of work celebs. Bateman & Cole steal movie as announcers. 3 stars
3/02/06 chris f very funny film i loved it 5 stars
1/09/06 whatevr The shizz-nite! 5 stars
11/28/05 BEN YODER dodgeball is exstreamly tasteless and lame. Ben stiller really needs to stop 1 stars
9/09/05 Tom Burns Hilarious! 5 stars
9/06/05 Fleetwood The best movie i havever seen, top shit 5 stars
8/18/05 ES Funny, worth the watch 4 stars
7/27/05 Kankasaur paraplegics should respect themselves, we play MURDERBALL, & we don't dodge traffic so well 5 stars
7/25/05 kaitlin j. vince vaughn is amazing 5 stars
7/18/05 amanda hollywood, women should respect themselves, we are not sex objects 1 stars
7/18/05 TheRedDevil The funniest film ever, 2nd to none 5 stars
7/12/05 sbpat21 very funny 4 stars
5/26/05 tony AWSOME MOVIE. i cried laughing at home and in the theater. Byfar the best stiller movie yet 5 stars
5/08/05 Spencer Paulin I think that it was the best ever and the funest in the hole wide world i watched it alot. 5 stars
5/06/05 Phil 80% of laughs come from "Man getting hit in groin". But Stiller is excellent 2 stars
4/04/05 Charlie Ben Stiller's great in Dodgeball. 4 stars
3/30/05 Richard Pryor great movie 5 stars
2/20/05 lj really funny--loved it 4 stars
2/15/05 Bobby da Squid There're only so many times that hitting somebody in the face or nads is funny 3 stars
2/09/05 nannette ryan I thought the movie was funny. The acting could have been better but it will give a laugh 4 stars
2/08/05 Kitina Blues it was ok...vince vaughn is soooooo hot!!! :) 4 stars
2/05/05 youreo The plot leaves you wondering, but these guys could sit in a room and sell tix. Funny! 4 stars
1/28/05 Jack Scallops You can dodge a wrench, You can't dodge this film 5 stars
1/19/05 Jeff Anderson HOPELESSLY BAD! A lame rip-off of BASEKETBALL, 10 times more funnier than this STINKBOMB!!! 1 stars
1/18/05 Ironwit Too funny for real 5 stars
12/25/04 Freddy I expected more. Only laughed hard at the wrench throw 2 stars
12/24/04 Phil M. Aficionado Funny in spots, goofy throughout. Excellent bit parts by several 3 stars
12/19/04 Nicole I was excited to see this - when I finally did I was disappointed 3 stars
12/13/04 KCobain Almost as bad as Zoolander. Tasteless humor that isn't funny. 2 stars
12/07/04 Albie Worth watching once 3 stars
11/21/04 Kristina Williams pretty funny...liked Zoolander better, though 4 stars
11/16/04 Littlepurch Not as good as everyone says but still enjoyable and funny. Rip Torn steals show. 4 stars
10/25/04 hudson great 5 stars
10/23/04 Matt It was the funniest i wish i had inflatable dick too!! 5 stars
10/17/04 Miles Morley Gotta love the dodgewrench scene. Ben Stiller your stellar! 5 stars
10/05/04 William very very very very exellent 5 stars
9/26/04 Ghetto Smurf Fuckin' Chuck Norris. 5 stars
9/24/04 BilFroth THIS is a funny movie 5 stars
9/10/04 bin ladan I say it is what I really wanted to see 4 stars
9/03/04 jennifer thank you 4 stars
8/17/04 Car wash girls' butts best part Christine Taylor better as Marcia Brady; her hubby better as protagonists. 3 stars
8/03/04 Kitina Blues for vince vaughn...he's adorable!!! 5 stars
8/01/04 Kathryn Knowlton Very funny 4 stars
7/24/04 Sandy Turynowicz funny 4 stars
7/17/04 Mimi I laughed so hard my stomach hurt. 5 stars
7/08/04 S.f. Typical Stiller film. Funny! 4 stars
7/08/04 jenny this movie sucked i mean really sucked you people don't know good movies 1 stars
7/08/04 Mary This movie was very very funny! It's definitely worth seeing. 5 stars
7/08/04 Denise Duspiva Seemed like it was going to be stupid and it was but it is also funny 4 stars
7/04/04 Jeff Semlow Laughed from begining to end. Vince Vaughn rules! 5 stars
7/03/04 ZenCow Has some solid laughs but overall it's pretty tame. The angle about the pirate is strange. 4 stars
7/01/04 A F Gotta love the Joe prevails over Cobra, G I Joe reference. GOOO JOE! But a let down. 3 stars
7/01/04 DEVEREUX MORING 1 stars
6/30/04 elizaveta solid laughs AND the guy from 'Arrested Development'! FUN 5 stars
6/30/04 Melina Very enjoyable! 4 stars
6/30/04 Spinz This movie was kinda funny, but i always think Ben Stiller is! 4 stars
6/27/04 Katie O You know you shouldn't be laughing, but you are...and you are a hell of a lot! 5 stars
6/27/04 Gar Hilarious. I haven't enjoyed a comedy as much in years!!! 4 stars
6/26/04 Thomas Pacheco This was one of the better Ben Stiller films. 4 stars
6/25/04 Dougie Whitey This is an unfunny film that is insultingly bad. Nose picking is funnier than this crap! 1 stars
6/25/04 KingNeutron Some og it is just WRONG, but mostly funny. Vaughn is more like Chevy Chase. 3 stars
6/25/04 Mr boner I pissed myself silly. Make sure you're nice and stoned! 5 stars
6/24/04 charles lindquist benstiller is funny 5 stars
6/23/04 Titus With a little more pirate, and a little less Ben Stiller, that would be perfect. 4 stars
6/23/04 Paul This movie blew. Gettin hit in the nuts isn't that funny...really... 1 stars
6/22/04 ShakeZulah I haven't laughed as hard in at least five years. Comic gem! 5 stars
6/22/04 aerr qwer 5 stars
6/22/04 jason laughed thru the whole thing 5 stars
6/22/04 the truth cut-n-paste bs. yrs ago this site would have slaughtered this crap. the hell happened here? 1 stars
6/22/04 maxomai Fantastic slapstic. Corny. 4 stars
6/22/04 Johnboy I laughed all the way thru 5 stars
6/21/04 Scott Sheppard I actually was trying to keep my girlfriend awake the whole time. 1 stars
6/21/04 ajay funny, I laughed.. it's *barely* a "Worth A Look". 4 stars
6/21/04 TimmyToday People getting hit in the nuts is even funnier!!! 4 stars
6/20/04 andon People getting hit in the face with rubberballs is funny. Period. Go see it. 4 stars
6/20/04 Heidialyssa A good, funny summer movie. 4 stars
6/20/04 jon this movie was freakin hilarious 5 stars
6/20/04 Desperado very funny, defintely recommended 4 stars
6/19/04 Alex Great 5 stars
6/19/04 Emily I loved the Movie 4 stars
6/18/04 me a good film had some funny parts in it. 4 stars
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  18-Jun-2004 (PG-13)
  DVD: 02-Aug-2005

  27-Aug-2004 (12A)

  09-Sep-2004 (M)

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