Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story, a True Time-Waster

Just came out of Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story beaten senseless by the locker room humor. It’s like someone said, “Let’s do something like Zoolander, but with a lot more of the really really dumb parts, and then recycle a few of the funny parts.”

I got tired of this kind of humor when I was a sophomore in high school.

If you do see it, you probably will laugh… occasionally. But for every good line, there are fifteen that sound like they were scraped off the walls of the stalls in a men’s room. The cameos are funny, and when we get to the actual dodgeball tournament, the send-up of ESPN sports coverage is a hoot. But that doesn’t come close to making this worth the 94 minutes.

Especially painful: Seeing the comic genius Alan Tudyk, who was so brilliant in Joss Whedon’s Firefly series (and probably will be again in the film version, Serenity) reduced to this… playing a guy named Steve who thinks he’s a pirate. He does his best, and wrings a few laughs out of his manic performance, but the poor guy deserves far better.

The film is sloppy, and some of the actors seem like they wish they could pry themselves out of it. Vince Vaughn looks bored to tears, and since he’s the central character, that feeling spreads to the viewer. And Stiller’s willingness to stoop to a dick joke at every possible opportunity becomes wearying and eventually even kind of grossly fascinating–why is he so intent on this, when he’s been in such intelligent and memorable films as Flirting with Disaster and such clever satires as Zoolander? This sorely undercooked flick makes Old School look like a comedy masterpiece.

For comedy this summer, save your pennies for Anchorman, which has the potential to be for Will Ferrell what The Jerk was for Steve Martin and Groundhog Day was for Bill Murray: the defining moment that places him in the pantheon of big screen comedy greats.

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About Jeffrey Overstreet

Jeffrey Overstreet departed the Patheos network in order to escape click-bait advertisements that were offending him and his readers. He will re-launch Looking Closer at lookingcloser.org soon. He is the author of The Auralia Thread, a four-volume fantasy series that begins with Auralia's Colors, and a memoir of "dangerous moviegoing" called Through a Screen Darkly. He teaches creative writing and film studies; speaks internationally about art and faith; served as Writer-in-Residence at Covenant College; and is employed by Seattle Pacific University as a project manager, copyeditor, and writer.


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