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Fox Home Entertainment presents
Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story (2004)

White Goodman: Go ahead, make your jokes, Mr. Jokey... Joke-maker. But let me hit you with some knowledge. Quit now. Save yourself the embarrassment of losing with these losers in Las Vegas, La Fleur.
Peter La Fleur: Alliteration aside, I think I'll take my chances in the tournament.
Goodman: Yeah, you will take your chances.
La Fleur: I know. I just said that.
Goodman: I know you just said that.
La Fleur: Okay, I'm not sure where you're going with this.
Goodman: Well, I'm not sure where you're going with this.
La Fleur: That's what I said.
Goodman: That's what I'm saying to you.
La Fleur: All right.
Goodman: Touché.

- Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn

Review By: Matt Peterson  
Published: November 28, 2004

Stars: Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Christine Taylor
Other Stars: Rip Torn, Justin Long, Stephen Root, Joel Moore, Chris Williams, Alan Tudyk
Director: Rawson Marshall Thurber

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for rude and sexual humor, language
Run Time: 01h:31m:56s
Release Date: December 07, 2004
UPC: 024543152699
Genre: comedy


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A- A-A-B+ B+

DVD Review

I know what you're thinking: "Grades in the A range for Dodgeball? Has this Peterson bloke lost his mind?" No, faithful readers. There are times when one must defy grading conventions to recognize a film of merit within a less-than-respected genre. When it comes to the genre of over-the-top, goofball comedy, it doesn't get much better than this. Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story was the underdog of its day, eclipsing box office king Spielberg's latest entry, The Terminal, in its opening weekend. Does this film deserve such an accolade? Maybe not, but this remains to be one the smartest scripts of the year. And it's just damn funny.

The plot is the textbook tale of competition, of David vs. Goliath. Peter La Fleur (Vince Vaughn) owns and operates Average Joe's Gym, where the vibe is "I'm not okay, you're not okay, but that's okay." La Fleur's establishment is a collection of not-so-average rejects, including Gordon (Stephen Root), a fan of obscure sports; awkward teen gymnast Justin (Justin Long); and Steve the Pirate (Alan Tudyk), who no one notices is a pirate. Average Joe's Gym is a haven of acceptance and goodwill, but it is in financial troubles. Peter is informed by obligatory love interest Kate (Christine Taylor) he will lose the gym if he cannot produce $50,000. The solution? Form a dodgeball team, of course, and compete for the American Dodgeball Association of America (the illustrious ADAA) championship and the grand prize of—gasp—$50,000!

Peter's arch enemy, lilliputian fitness guru White Goodman (Ben Stiller), will stop at nothing to defeat the Average Joes and acquire yet another gym to expand his evil Globo Gym empire. He's also after the girl. Complete with immaculate facial hair and a mullet that would make Road House-era Patrick Swayze jealous, Goodman is an egomaniacal, eccentric chatterbox who grunts crude attempts at intellectual insults, to no avail. He is suffering from an inferiority complex of the worst kind, conditioning himself to avoid food through electroshocking out of fear of returning to his obese past. His office is filled with self-involved iconography, including oddly disturbing Greco-Roman wresting statues and a painting of himself "taking the bull by the horns." He, too, assembles a dodgeball team, and the game is on.

Where is dodgeball on TV these days? Watching these matches between such forces as the M.I.L.F.s, the Lumberjacks, the Kamikazes, and the Purple Cobras is far more entertaining than any professional sport in recent memory. Games are commentated with keen precision by Cotton (Gary Cole) and Pepper (Jason Bateman) of ESPN 8, the "Ocho," who state the obvious with great seriousness and enthusiasm ("I spoke with White Goodman before today's match, and he told me that his team really wants to win this one..."). It points out how useless such TV personalities are at times, but with phrases like "ménage-a-trois of pain," "Darwin's cruelest play" and "shadenfreude" being spilled about, their work is a cut above. These matches become even more thrilling with Theodore Shapiro's hilariously dramatic orchestral score.

To put it simply, everything comes together in this film. The recent kings of screwball comedy, Vaughn and Stiller play off each other wonderfully, creating some classic moments that will be quoted for ages. Of course, Rip Torn's memorably crude blowhard, former dodgeball champion and ADAA hall-of-famer-turned-trainer, Patches "If you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball" O'Houlihan, hits more bullseyes with his one-liners of encouragement than his automatic dodgeball firing machine. His instruction is merciless. After all, dodgeball is a game of violence, exclusion, and degradation.

Complete with hilarious cameos from the likes of William Shatner, Hank Azaria, Lance Armstrong, Chuck Norris (prompting a brilliantly simple closing line), and even David Hasslehoff, the rapid-fire unpredictability of this left me in stitches. Director Rawson Marshall Thurber's direction is functional and expressive. The wit of his script and quality of the physical comedy is stellar, but don't be fooled into thinking this is more than what it is—there are plenty of crude jokes to go around, but they remain fresh and unexpected. Go ahead. Grab life by the ball. Get ready for some balls-out fun. The ball's in your court.

Stick around for the end credits, where Goodman offers his view of the American cinema, in which this film firmly finds its footing. How'd ya like that alliteration, huh?

Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: A-

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio2.35:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: Fox's anamorphic 2.35:1 transfer is very good. Detail is high, and the bold colors and deep blacks of the film's gameplay are beautifully rendered (if one can use such an adjective for this film). I do love that this was shot in anamorphic, giving it a great epic feel at times. There is some minor edge enhancement, but it does not noticeably mar this nearly flawless transfer.

Image Transfer Grade: A-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0French, Spanishno
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishno


Audio Transfer Review: The Dolby 5.1 audio has its dynamic and immersive moments, especially during the dodgeball matches. Still, the majority of the mix is front centered, but imaging and detail are good, and dialogue is clear. The great musical score has some nice range to it.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 22 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish
2 Original Trailer(s)
3 Other Trailer(s) featuring The Ringer, Arrested Development, Pauley Shore is Dead
7 Deleted Scenes
1 Alternate Endings
Screenplay
4 Featurette(s)
2 Feature/Episode commentaries by Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, writer/director Rawson Marshall Thurber (featured track); writer/director Rawson Marshall Thurber (Easter Egg track)
Weblink/DVD-ROM Material
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: RSDL

Extra Extras:
  1. Easter Eggs
Extras Review: Fox has recently released its major titles in barebones editions, no doubt paving the way for an eventual special edition. Dodgeball has more than usual, though, including some very funny menus (such as a very dramatic scene selections screen, which compiles Patches' quotes over somber strings).

We begin with an audio commentary by Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, and Rawson Marshall Thurber. This is a somewhat humorous track, but not as funny as you might expect. Their style is somewhat laid back, and the group frequently references other non-Fox films, much to the chagrin of the studio.

Next is a collection of deleted bits. There are seven deleted scenes, including "Cardio Cowboy," "Gordon Asks for a Divorce/Goodman's Metaphor Speech," "Justin and Amber see Derek Before Cheerleading Finals," "The Dirty Sanchez," "Kate's Porch," "Justin and Amber Kiss," and "Shame Triangle" (08m:50s total, nonanamorphic). There is also an alternate ending (01m:21s), which has to be a joke. If the film ended this way, well, it would have been bad. There are some funny extra bits here, but the reasons for their exclusion are clear. All of these scenes have optional director's commentary. Finally, a Bloopers/Gag Reel (03m:01s) is a fine little montage of very funny outtakes (be aware, there is some crude language here). I won't spoil them for you.

There are four occasionally fluffy featurettes. Dodgeball Boot Camp: Training for Dodgeball (03m:27s) goes into the "intensive" physical preparation for the film; The Anatomy of a Hit (03m:24s) explores the film's physical violence in the name of dodgeball; Justin Long: A Study in Ham & Cheese (03m:33s) is a collection of long takes featuring Justin Long's comedic abilities, including an extended shot of him getting continually pummeled by dodgeballs; Dodgeball: Go for the Gold (01m:20s) is a short interview bit with Vince Vaughn and Ben Stiller, who discuss how dodgeball should be a major sport.

There is a collection of trailers, including two Dodgeball trailers, entries for The Ringer, Arrested Development, and a forced opening trailer for the shudder-inducing Pauley Shore Is Dead. Well, the title is encouraging... Fox's mainstay "First Look" section features Elektra, the upcoming Jennifer Garner spinoff. The visuals on this one look quite good. Finally, the screenplay can be accessed via DVD-ROM.

That's all for the listed extras, but wait, there's more! If you select the small Purple Cobras icon on the Special Features menu, you will be greeted by an obese White Goodman who explains how to access several easter eggs during the movie (during the film, hit enter whenever White snaps his fingers). These treats are great, and include some extra deleted bits and even a second audio commentary featuring only writer/director Rawson Marshall Thurber (accessed via the snap at the Dirty Sanchez bar). In this track, Thurber delves into the project's origins, and how it finally got off the ground. There are some repeated comments from the featured track, but this is a fine bonus.

Extras Grade: B+

 

Final Comments

Dodgeball takes the crudeness of your standard goofball comedy, adds some sharp wit, colorful characters, ballsy competition, and enough quotable lines to keep you and your buddies going for years. This is the funniest movie of the year. As White points out, this lacks the "complexity" of non-American cinema, but here, it's the entertainment that counts. Fox's package is a winner.

 


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