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Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story (2004)
Rated PG13

Starring: Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, and Christine Taylor

Rating:
**1/2
out of
*****

In 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.

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.

Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story is funny. It's just that it could have been funnier. A rental at best. 

Trivia: Ben 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)

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