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DODGEBALL
Unrated Edition

Review by Gordon Justesen

Stars: Vince Vaughn, Ben Stiller, Christine Taylor, Rip Torn
Director: Rawson Marshall Thurber
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Surround, Spanish Dolby Surround
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Features: See Review
Length: 92 Minutes
Release Date: July 12, 2005

Good luck, White.”

“Cram it up your cram-hole, La Fleur!”

Film ***1/2

Like a rubber ball to the face, the laughs come fast and hard in Dodgeball, which is the leading candidate for the funniest movie of 2004.

It's been a long time since a single movie had me laughing out loudly during just about every scene. Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story is a wacky, over the top and insanely funny send up of all the feel-good sports movies we've come to enjoy. Much of the laughs come not just from the physical hilarity that is plagued in the sport of dodgeball, but by way of two very funny performances from comedy pros Vince Vaughn and Ben Stiller.

The story involves the struggling staff at Average Joe's Gym. The owner of the establishment, Peter La Fleur (Vaughn), is a likeable slacker whose business faces foreclosure if he can't come up with $50,000 and fast. Who would want to buy out such a place as Average Joe's? Nobody other than self-loving, fat-loathing fitness guru White Goodman (Stiller) who owns the franchised-oriented Globo Gym right across the street.

With no other options, one of La Fleur's employees comes up with a bright idea, to enter the gang in a Dodgeball tournament to be held in Las Vegas. Though they have never had a hint of dodgeball experience, they soon get it in the form of Patches O'Houlihan (Rip Torn), a wheelchair bound father of dodgeball. Patches' techniques consist of teaching the team the 5 D's of dodgeball; dodge, duck, dip, dive and…dodge.

La Fleur's is granted extra help in the form of Kate Veatch (Christine Taylor), who works for the bank assigned to foreclose the gym. She soon takes a liking to La Fleur, and an immediate despise to White Goodman, and joins the team when it is revealed she has a throwing arm equal to a firing cannon. Once the conniving White gets word of their plan, he wastes no time in entering his staff in the tournament to stuff Average Joe's once and for all.

The dodgeball tournament is soon underway in Vegas. One of the movie's best in-jokes is the very name of the network which broadcasts the dodgeball event; ESPN 8-"The Ocho", an extension of the cable sports channel dedicated to broadcasting seldom seen sporting activities. If it's almost a sport, they've got it.

The dodgeball play by play is provided by ESPN 8 sportscasters Cotton McKnight (Gary Cole) and Pepper Brooks (Jason Bateman). Their dialogue is easily the funniest sports commentary I've ever heard in a single movie. It's a reminder of just how flawless a comedic actor Gary Cole is. Along with his pop-up in Starsky and Hutch and his successful TV show Arrested Development, Jason Bateman is on the verge of a mighty comeback, as he delivers priceless responses to Cole's commentary. Here's a sample:

Cotton: "In 23 years of broadcasting, I thought I'd seen it all, folks. But it looks like Peter La Fleur has blindfolded himself."

Pepper: "He will not be able to see very well, Cotton."

Finally, there's the opposition of Vince Vaughn and Ben Stiller. Vaughn, a favorite of mine ever since Swingers, plays the straight man as best as anyone can, while still making room for moments of charm and sharp as a blade one liners. No one makes me laugh the way Vaughn has with his wit. He kills me in every picture.

But I would be lying if I said that movie doesn't belong to Ben Stiller in what his perhaps his zaniest performance to date. Almost every line of dialogue that comes out of Stiller's mouth is so stupidly funny, that you may find yourself rewinding to hear it again, like I was doing a few times. Though in many's perspective the performance may come across as supreme over-acting, Stiller's unleashed performance is likely to have you in stitches.

Although the so-called sport of dodgeball could only be fit for a comedy, it has resulted in one of the funniest movies in years. Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story is a pure 90 minutes of endless laughs, fun and…balls.

BONUS TRIVIA: There are countless cameos in the movie. Without giving any of the real surprising appearances, there are pop ups from Hank Azaria, David Hasselhoff and William Shatner.

ADDED TRIVIA: Make sure you stay tuned after the end credits for a most surprising and hilarious capper to the movie!

Video ****

Fox continues to excel in their DVD excellence with a grand and lively anamorphic presentation (full frame version available separately). The image is thoroughly crisp and clear in pure glory, adding up to a greatly detailed picture. Colors are a blast, too, from the appearance of the brightly colored uniforms right down to the red rubber balls used in the sport. Indeed, a presentation not worth dodging at all.

Audio ****

Dodgeball is a comedy based on the most extreme type of physical comedy known to the human race. With that element in tact, Fox has thrown to our face a strong and amazing 5.1 mix. The dodgeball sequences provide a big boost of sound which results in dynamic overall surround sound so good, you can pretty much hear every single blow to the face, chest and well…you get the idea. Dialogue delivery is supremely clear, and the wide variety of music on the soundtrack play a big role in providing the superior sound quality.

Features ****

Included on this new Unrated release, in addition to the several raunchy one-liners that weren’t included in the original movie, is an entire new commentary track with Vince Vaughn, Ben Stiller and writer/director Rawson Marshall Thurber. There are also 9 deleted/extended scenes with optional commentary, extended sequences of the mighty fine Dodgeball Dancers, four behind the scenes featurettes, a gag reel, and trailers for this, as well as bonus previews for Garden State and There’s Something About Mary.

Summary:

Dodgeball has bounced on DVD once again in a new Unrated Version. The talents of Vince Vaughn and Ben Stiller have bounced heads and made a newfound comedy classic! When it comes down to the end of the year, I can easily see Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story walking away with the prize of the 2004's funniest movie. A surefire recommend to comedy lovers everywhere.
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