2004 Running time: 92 Certificate: 15 Rating: 4
KA Dodgeball A True Underdog Story

Synopsis

Bruising cult comedy about a team of underachievers - led by slacker Vince Vaughn - aiming to save their knackered gym by competing against rival club owner Ben Stiller in a dodgeball tournament. Stiller's moustachioed health nazi steals the spotlight, but Rip Torn pushes him all the way as the wheelchair-bound trainer of Vaughn's mob who has more than a few screws loose. David Hasselhoff adds to the offbeat lunacy as a German dodgeball coach.

Director

  • Rawson Marshall Thurber

Cast

  • Ben Stiller

  • Vince Vaughn

  • Christine Taylor

  • Rip Torn

Review

It's a game invented by opium-smoking Chinamen and forged on the anvil of "violence, exclusion and degradation". It's Dodgeball.

Faced with the takeover of his easygoing gym - motto: Failure Is An Option: Let's Learn From Our Mistakes - laidback owner Peter LaFleur (Vaughn) is at loss what to do.

However, salvation is at hand with the annual final of the Dodgeball league in Las Vegas with a $50,000 purse that will bail his rundown exercise centre out of trouble.

Dodgeball, in case you didn't know, is the playground favourite where a ball is lobbed at a kid - usually the weakest - and featured in the pages of Obscure Sports Quarterly.

The only trouble is mulleted megalomaniac White Goodman (Stiller) - owner of the rival Globo Gym empire - wants Peter's Average Joe's Gym for a parking lot - and he's fielding his own dodgeball team to make sure he gets it.

First impressions can be deceptive and this shapes up as a regular fratboy outing... but, wait for it, turns out to be a comic tornado of irresistible energy.

Debut director Rawson Marshall Thurber's script teems with so many gags - and good ones at that - that if you miss one there'll be another along in a moment.

He's also given Vaughn one of his best comedy characters - the laconic LaFleur - in an age, while Stiller nails the language-mangling egomaniac White Goodman with aplomb.

There's a great supporting cast as well, particularly tax lawyer-turned-dodgeball team member Kate (Taylor) and college weakling Justin Long taking the honours.

Veteran actor Rip Torn plays wheelchair bound coach Patches O'Houlihan who meets an untimely end when an Irish good luck sign crushes him in a Vegas casino.

Deliciously politically incorrect, Dodgeball is one of those rare things - a comedy that transcends the hype. Dodge it at your peril.

Tim Evans

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