1995, Ben Stiller played a character named Tony Perkis in a movie called
Heavy Weights. Perkis
was a crazed ex-fitness instructor who ran
a summer camp for overweight kids. His character in Dodgeball: A True
Underdog Story, White Goodman, is essentially the same character with
different hair. It's the type of role that Ben Stiller can play with obvious
glee. He's dead-on at skewering the brawn-over-brains type of "celebrity" that
one finds hawking diet products in infomercials at 3 AM. The fact that
Perkis and Goodman are essentially the same character underlines the main
problem with Dodgeball. You've seen it all before. Maybe not quite as
weird as in the context in which it's presented here but you've definitely
seen it before.
A True Underdog Story (2004)
Starring: Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, and
White Goodman owns Globo-Gym, a fitness/plastic surgery chain with a
location directly across the street from Average Joe's Gym, which is run
by Peter La Fleur (Vince Vaughn). Peter is an apathetic, lovable loser
type who's loyal to his clientele but doesn't know a thing about running
a business. It turns out that Average Joe's property is in foreclosure
because Peter ignored all the warnings about being in default on his mortgage.
Unless Peter can come up with $50,000 in 30 days, Globo-Gym will take
possession of his property and plow it under for a parking lot. How can
Average Joe's come up with the money? By entering a dodgeball tournament
that will award $50,000 to the best team. So, in true comedy fashion,
Average Joe's Gym throws together a motley crew and enters the tournament.
Dodgeball takes aim at the
usual sports movie clichés like the
coach who comes out of retirement to take one last shot at glory and the
loser who finds his purpose for living while a part of the team. It also
provides some hilarious cameo roles for the likes of Lance Armstrong,
David Hasselhoff, William Shatner and Chuck Norris. There are some inspired
laughs in Dodgeball but there are too many predictable moments that soften
their impact. When the movie makes jokes about sportscasters and obscure
sports celebrities, it's dead-on. When it veers into the sex comedy territory,
it goes too far into the gross-out realm.
A True Underdog Story is funny. It's just that it could have
been funnier. A rental at best.
Stiller broke three cameras in succession filming one scene, and even
hit his wife Christine Taylor in the face once. (Source: The
Internet Movie Database)