3 StarsA group of misfits and freaks lead by Vince Vaughn enter a Las Vegas dodgeball tournament in order to save their cherished local gym from the onslaught of a corporate health fitness chain. The thin premise is highlighted by a hysterical performance from Ben Stiller as a egomaniacal feather haired health freak. His character is solely responsible for some of the film’s biggest laughs. A slew of celebrity cameos are littered throughout and each is surprisingly well used notably David Hasselhoff as the coach of the German team.
At it’s core Dodgeball is a sports comedy that hits all the familiar cliches about a group of social outcasts finding a surrogate family while competing for a common goal. The most intriguing element of the film is an underlying subtext commenting on the state of ‘gym culture’ and our national obsession with physically perfection. Written with a sly wit by director Rawson Marshall Thurber the script is peppered with memorable sequences and dialogue. Though it’s tough to be sure what was on the page and how much the talented cast ad-libed. Whatever the case may be the film feels loose and unforced.
The dodgeball tournament dominates the last 40 minutes of the film and that’s OK because of the amusing voice-overs from ESPN 8 “The Ocho” announcers Cotton (Gary Cole) and Pepper (Jason Bateman). Their drop-ins are good for a chuckle even when the film momentarily becomes a bit too wrapped up in the outcome of the big game.
Director: Rawson Marshall Thurber
Stars: Ben Stiller, Christine Taylor and Vince Vaughn