Hilarious ‘Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story’ is just as good ‘unrated’

[rating=4]Starring: Vince Vaughn, Ben Stiller, Christine Taylor, Rip Torn, Justin Long
Director(s): Rawson Marshall Thurber
Writer(s): Rawson Marshall Thurber

The team takes to the line in 'Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story'
The team takes to the line in ‘Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story’

Who’d have thunk that a moronic and demoralizing school-age sport could make such a funny movie?

Dodgeball is probably one of the funniest movies I’ve seen in years. Vince Vaughn hasn’t begun to annoy me just yet, and here he’s probably at his most charming. Ben Stiller is funny, even if he’s doing one of his oddball type characters, most of which I find stupid. I can’t think of any better compliment to give a comedy than to say that it’s just plain funny, and that’s what Dodgeball is from beginning to end.

But as much as I like this movie, I have to say this new “unrated” edition is a bit of a joke. It’s pretty much the exact same thing as the original DVD release, except the language is slightly raunchier (for example, Rip Torn’s line about a “poop” flavored lollypop was altered in favor of a special male body part), and there’s an extra feature that has three different versions of the dodgeball cheerleaders dancing in skimpy outfits. Not much to really justify this marketing trick of selling an “unrated” version.

The story centers on a collection of “losers” led by Pete La Fleur (Vaughn), the owner of a rundown gym. He discovers that he must raise $50,000 or lose his gym to the comically pompous, White Goodman (Stiller), owner of a neighboring gym that is sleek and polished. In order to raise the money, Pete’s “Average Joes” compete in a major dodgeball competition in Las Vegas. But White learns of their plan and enters the competition, as well. The two teams then face off in the final match, and the winner takes all.

What makes Dodgeball work so well are the characters, as well as the actors who embody them. Rip Torn is perfect as Patches O’Houlihan, the cantankerous coach and former dodgeball star. He delivers his foul-mouthed one-liners with perfection. Justin Long as… well, Justin, is great as the uncomfortably geeky high schooler. I mean, the scene where the overweight cheerleader falls on top of him is priceless — with the wet suction sound adding just the right amount of “ewww”. Stephen Root’s Gordon is the perfect adult geek, and Christine Taylor manages to be super hot, but just as odd as the other “Average Joes”.

As I said earlier, this new “unrated” Dodgeball DVD isn’t really much different than the original DVD they put out of this film. It’s mostly adjustments to dialogue. Torn’s raunchy tirades are a bit more raunchier. But I suppose the new bonus of the cheerleaders dancing in pink bikinis, and blue and black lingerie, is the biggest addition. Three different dance sequences, each in the different outfits, are highlighted by a hilarious introduction by the film’s writer/director, Rawson Marshall Thurber.

The other selection of featurettes are all pretty funny, and thankfully sans the usual Hollywood fluff that pollute so many DVDs. The extended and deleted scenes are interesting, and the gag reel is funny. The commentary is also entertaining, with Thurber, Vaughn and Stiller.

Although this obvious “unrated” marketing trick is pretty… well, obvious, it doesn’t take away from the fact that Dodgeball is one funny movie.

Rated: N/A
Run Time: 1 hr., 32 mins.

Michael Sheridan

Michael Sheridan has written, directed and produced more than a dozen short films under the banner of Maynard Films, and has worked as a writer for more than a decade for websites, magazines and newspapers.

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