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20th Century Fox presents
Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story (Unrated) (2005)

"But remember, dodgeball is a sport of violence, exclusion, and degradation. So, when you're picking players in gym class, remember to pick the bigger, stronger kids for your team. That way, you can all gang up on the weaker ones, like Winston here."
- Patches O'Houlihan (Hank Azaria)

Review By: Nate Meyers  
Published: July 12, 2005

Stars: Vince Vaughn, Christine Taylor, Ben Stiller
Other Stars: Rip Torn, Justin Long, Stephen Root, Joel David Moore, Chris Williams, Alan Tubyk, Missi Pyle, Jamal Duff, Gary Cole, Jason Bateman, Hank Azaria, Lance Armstrong, Chuck Norris, William Shatner, David Hasselhoff, Julie Gonzalo, Trever O'Brien
Director: Rawson Marshall Thurber

Manufacturer: deluxe digital studios
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (language, crude sexual humor, brief comedic violence)
Run Time: 01h:32m:28s
Release Date: July 12, 2005
UPC: 024543172215
Genre: comedy


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A AA+A+ C+

DVD Review

When I first saw a promo spot for the theatrical release of Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story, I readily declared Ben Stiller's career to be officially dead. Boy, what an error of judgement.

After receiving an initial DVD release last December, writer-director Rawson Marshall Thurber's debut feature is now presented in an unrated version. Unless you're fairly familiar with the original version, the additional 32 seconds of material included here will likely pass unnoticed. Apart from the inclusion of a few brief scene extensions and a couple of f-bombs, this is the exact same movie audiences greeted with enthusiasm last summer. I don't say that as a complaint, because if it ain't broke, don't fix it. I'm not going to bother giving a plot synopsis, since you can read a review on this site containing it here—plus, if you've seen one dodgeball movie, you've seen them all. Frankly, it's not the plot that makes this such an enjoyable motion picture, it's the oddball humor and offbeat characters that will leave you in stitches.

Dodgeball contains one of the smartest scripts of the past couple of years, featuring truly stunning dialogue. The banter between lowly Average Joe's Gym owner Peter LeFleur (Vince Vaughn) and his archnemesis, Globo Gym owner White Goodman (Ben Stiller), is the kind of stuff that would make the Marx Brothers proud. Note a scene late in the picture, where White offers Peter a bribe in the midst of the high drama of the dodgeball tournament. The nonsensical ramblings of White clash beautifully with Peter's inquisitive, cynical demeanor. Of course, the chemistry between these two actors is a large reason why the story's conflict works. Achieving the kind of success that Hope and Crosby had, Vaughn and Stiller feed off each other brilliantly and keep a steady stream of laughs coming.

Yet, as funny as those two men are, it's the vast cast of supporting characters that won my heart. Rip Torn as Average Joe's team coach, and hall of fame dodgeballer, Patches O'Houlihan, is a delightful old coot, filled with enough vulgarity and disdain for a man's "family jewels" to give any man nightmares. The now popular line, "If you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball" is destined to be a classic thanks to Torn's surly delivery. The ultimate fate of Patches is a shocking stroke of genius, rivaled only by the character of Steve the Pirate (Alan Tubyk). The script never bothers to explain why Steve dresses, speaks, and behaves like a pirate. Instead, the absurdity of the character is taken in good stride with the rest of the crazed happenings, signaling a remarkably courageous leap by writer Marshall because it shows he trusts his audience to follow him on this wild ride. Christine Taylor's Kate Veatch is a smart, sexy addition to the cast and when she unleashes her rocket-propelled dodgeball throws, it's easy to see why the other Joe's think she's a dyke. Furthermore, the other woman in the cast, Missi Pyle, provides one of the funniest moments in the picture when, as Fran Stalinovskavichdaviddivichski (c'mon, with a name like that, you just know this is the work of a comedic genius), she unleashes a rubber ball of fury upon a bar patron—possibly killing the man. Add these characters, as well cameo appearances by iconic actors of TV (prompting one of the most hilarious closing lines of any movie ever made) and gratuitous shots of women dancing in bikinis together and you get a nearly flawless comedy.

The direction is pitch-perfect here, not pretending that it's delivering anything but a clichéd formula piece about David vs. Goliath on the dodgeball court. We all know who's going to win at the end, but the dead serious approach to the material makes it all the more enjoyable. Theodore Shapiro's orchestral score touches upon all the classic sports themes you would expect and the editing treats the final Las Vegas dodgeball tournament with a reverence that most professional sports broadcasters don't even bring to their work. Watching those rubber balls fly across the scope aspect ratio, landing squarely in somebody's face or unmentionables, will not only satisfy the most sophomoric of viewers, but even achieves a certain kind of eloquence.

I may never be able to look down my nose at anyone again because of this, but with a script as delightfully absurd and a cast of characters as eclectic as this, there's something magical at work here. It's not art, but, like The Simpsons, it takes something low and makes it something profound. Thank you, Mr. Marshall, for giving me the balls to embrace the finer qualities of lowbrow comedy.

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: A

 

Image Transfer

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


Image Transfer Review: The anamorphic 2.35:1 transfer is a seemingly perfect piece of work. I didn't notice any flaws in the image, with it containing vivid colors, excellent contrast, a strong film-like look, and strong detail.

Image Transfer Grade: A+

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0French, Spanishno
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishno


Audio Transfer Review: The Dolby Digital 5.1 mix is a fun, dynamic listen. Sound separation and directionality kick in fairly often, using the rear-channels to great effect. Dialogue is always audible and well balanced within the mix. The front sound stage opens up fairly nicely, creating a thoroughly engrossing experience. Some might call the mix gimmicky, but it strikes the tone of the film perfectly. French and Spanish Dolby Stereo 2.0 mixes are available as well.

Audio Transfer Grade: A+

 

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 Generic Fox DVD Trailer, Garden State DVD, There's Something More About Mary DVD
9 Deleted Scenes
1 Alternate Endings
Screenplay
4 Featurette(s)
2 Feature/Episode commentaries by Ben Stiller, Rawson Marshall Thurber, Vince Vaughn
Weblink/DVD-ROM Material
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: RSDL
Layers Switch: 00h:44m:37s

Extra Extras:
  1. More With the Dodgeball Dancers—three dance routines that were not fully featured in the finished film, introduced by writer/director Rawson Marshall Thurber.
Extras Review: To call this DVD a "double dip" would be generous. With the exception of a new joke commentary and an additional feature, the extras here are identical to the original release. However, the joke commentary by writer/director Rawson Thurber Marshall and actors Ben Stiller and Vince Vaughn is sidesplitting hilarious. The three men create a shtick where they are at odds with one another. The first forty minutes are quite humorous, but then all three men "walk out" on their commentary and the crew simply pops in the Farrelly Brothers' commentary from There's Something About Mary. From this point on, it's not nearly as funny, but on occasion some of their comments work with the images on screen for a good laugh.

After that is a recycling of the same material from the previous DVD, starting off with nine deleted scenes and an alternate ending, all of which contain optional commentary by Marshall. Each scene is shown in nonanamorphic widescreen and Dolby Stereo 2.0. Some of the jokes here are funny, but the scenes were wisely cut from the final film for pacing purposes. Following that are four featurettes about the movie. Dodgeball Boot Camp: Training for Dodgeball (03m:27s) is a comical look at the hardships the cast experienced while training for the shoot. The Anatomy of a Hit (03m:24s) explains how to make the most out of an actor being smacked by a rubber ball—the trick is, go for the groin. The third featurette is Justin Long: A Study in Ham & Cheese (03m:33s), containing outtakes and bloopers of his performance as the love struck Average Joe's team member, Justin. The final featurette, Dodgeball: Go For the Gold (01m:21s), is a comical lobby by Stiller and Vaughn to get the sport introduced into the Olympics.

Continuing on the train of recycled goodies, the Bloopers/Gag Reel (03m:01s) is also identical to the original DVD. There's also a collection of trailers, including both of the Dodgeball trailers. Other trailers are for a variety of Fox DVDs, the DVD release of Garden State, and also the special edition DVD There's Something More About Mary. Also, for those with DVD-ROM access, you can read the movie's script. Not only that, but the same Easter egg bonus from the original release is also included here. Just press enter every time White snaps his fingers and you'll be taken to some short bonus features, as well as a feature length commentary by Marshall—and this commentary is the real deal.

Returning now to the new additional features, the misogynist in all us guysl can leap for joy thanks to More With the Dodgeball Dancers. There are three separate dance clips, all presented in nonanamorphic 2.35:1 widescreen. They can be played together, along with an introduction by Marshall, for a total runtime of 2m:26s. As he says, "I know what you're doing, you know what you're doing, let's not talk about it."

The extras here are good, albeit nothing extraordinary. However, since so much of the material is a direct carry-over from the previous release, the grade is going to take a hit.

Extras Grade: C+

 

Final Comments

By no means is this DVD worth a double dip, but if you didn't get around to picking up the original release then you can't go wrong with this fine set. The audio and image transfers are excellent, but the extras are largely the same as the original release. Just like the back cover says, Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story (Unrated) is "ducking funny!"

 


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