Dodgeball: Tracey Bennett
Lisa Schwarzbaum
June 25, 2004 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
PG-13
runtime
96 minutes
Wide Release Date
06/18/04
performer
Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Jason Bateman, Brooke Burke, Justin Long, Christine Taylor, Rip Torn
director
Rawson Marshall Thurber
distributor
20th Century Fox Film Corporation
author
Rawson Marshall Thurber
genre
Comedy

We gave it a B+

The truth is, Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story ain’t no true underdog story. If it were, Peter LaFleur (Vince Vaughn) and the scrum of losers who hang out at Average Joe’s Gym would never beat the pumped-up Globo Gym clones assembled by fitness magnate White Goodman (Ben Stiller) in a Las Vegas dodgeball showdown. (For pathos, the $50,000 winner’s pot is just enough to save Average Joe’s from foreclosure.)

The truth is, this slap-happy send-up of the whole sniffly underdog sports-movie genre, written and directed with a change-up pitch of whizzy aggression and bouncy merriness by Rawson Marshall Thurber, is hilariously fake and rude. And thus true and tonic, if you know what I mean. Stiller once again plays a preening SOB, but there is something in the chemistry of his crazy-eyed vanity (set off by a feathered coif and an artificially inflated codpiece) in combustion with Vaughn’s lower-keyed, underachiever sanity that at once aerates and focuses Stiller’s pugnacity. For added combustibility, Rip Torn plays a sewer-mouthed retired dodgeball legend who returns, in a wheelchair, to coach the Average Joes into glory. Direct hit!

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