thatcow

How much for adtime during the dodgeball finals?

The setup of Dodgeball seems a lot like Zoolander - take a silly little slice of reality and blow it completely out of proportion with characters that take themselves way too seriously.

Here, Ben Stiller plays White Goodman, owner of an ultra-chic chain of gyms (perhaps "workout studios" would be a better name). This is a similar character to his Derek Zoolander - self-obsessed and oblivious to the perceptions of others. What does it mean that Stiller is drawn to such roles? I'll leave that up to you.

Vince Vaughn is Peter, who owns the low-rent, low-brow competitor, Average Joe's Gym. Goodman buys the second mortgage to Peter's place and calls the note due, for some personal vengeful bundle of reasons that's not entirely clear - his reasons for a lot of things are unclear, but might simply relate to a condescending attitude toward everything that doesn't measure up in his view.

And somehow we end up in Vegas with two dodgeball teams from these opposing gyms, going after the $50000 prize money that would save Average Joe's. Along the way, funny things happen, which is pretty much the point - no pretense of any great meaning in the game of dodgeball.

So, as strictly a comedy, how does it do? I smiled for stretches, and laughed in places. Yes, it's funny. But even a comedy can reach deeper for its laughs, and much of what we're fed are well known gags, or at least predictable ones.

My favorite bit is the recurring ESPN 8 "The Ocho" promos, the channel broadcasting the tournament. Sadly, Jason Bateman's oddball dodgeball commentary is a pale immitation of Fred Willard's amazing work in Best in Show. Coming in a close second for me is how they handle the pat triteness of a deux ex machina ending. The movie spoofs itself and generations of intellectually vacant flicks with just a few frames of celluloid.

Despite some good jokes, and some clever winks at the audience, Dodgeball remains a fairly forgettable film. The details will fade from your mind just as rapidly as the name of last year's dodgeball champion will.

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