Reel Matt

This blog started as my movie marathon — watching a movie a day for a whole year — and has continued as a place for me to write reviews about movies, TV, and various other items.

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Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story

Film #296

THE PLOT

A group of misfits enter a Las Vegas dodgeball tournament in order to save their cherished local gym from the onslaught of a corporate health fitness chain.

Year 1, Day 303

BEFORE: One final distraction before my stress-inducing last day of finals with Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story (referred to as Dodgeball for the rest of the review). Another short comedy that can hopefully take my mind off what I should actually be doing while also not taking up too much time. Although I don’t know how good of a choice Dodgeball is because if what I hear is correct, there’s a test on what the five “Ds” stand for (wink).

AFTER: If any film has Hollywood written all over and symbolizes everything people hate about the direction movies are going in (but not all - there are still many gems out there still), it would be Dodgeball.

I absolutely detested this film, well most of it anyway. There were actually a few parts that I liked. Peter LaFleur (Vince Vaughn) and Patches O’Houlihan - both young (Hank Azaria) and old (Rip Torn) - were good, borderline great, characters. The things they stood for (the underdog and aiming low) were very easy to connect with and root for. O’Houlihan especially stood out as having some beautifully written dialogue. But despite all this, I still detest this film. Many films of late have been of the variety where the good outweighs the bad and I was left with a positive experience. Dodgeball is the opposite: the negatives of the film far outweighed these minor sparks of light.

Biggest negative has got to be the character of White Goodman and the accompanying performance by Ben Stiller. Stiller actually won the Razzie for Worst Actor which does not surprise me in the least. Half of the reason has to be the character. Goodman is just a colossal jerk who not only doesn’t care for other people, he goes out of his way to make other’s lives miserable. But the other half is due to Stiller’s performance. Other films have had similar characters that I liked because the actor has done a good job at presenting the character in a way that lets you understand why they are the way they are. Stiller however just struts around like he’s the king of the world not triggering any empathy for him. Even bad guys have something you can empathize with, even if it’s just know what made them a bad person. None of that is present in Goodman. The result is you hate watching the film anytime he’s in the scene. My other big annoyance with the film is the extreme overuse of deux ex machina. This is the best example of what I mean about the Hollywood-ization of the film. Beginning to end, the entire film was one big coincident after another. At the end, they even roll out a treasure chest full of money with “Deus Ex Machina” written on it. It just made for a horrible story, pacing, and development throughout.

All told, I would not even think of recommending this movie as one to watch. It’s just a horrible story with characters who are just as bad and jokes that aren’t funny. While the film is not all bad - two characters stood out above the rest and of course there’s this memorable scene which I had already seen beforehand - but the bad far outweighs these minor positives. Try as hard as you can to dodge, duck, dip, dive, and dodge away from this film.

RATING: 2 out of 5