By Vic Holtreman
Short version: Except for one miscast role and an over the top ending, this is a crude but extremely funny satire of the fitness industry.
If you’re a guy, and you still have any hint of a teenager in you, you’re probably going to like this movie. I’ve stated in the past that there is a very fine line when it comes to movies between “stupid funny” and just plain stupid. With just a couple of exceptions, where Dodgeball veers into just plain stupid, it’s a very funny film.
The basic premise is small, friendly, rundown gym vs. uber-yuppie (can I still use that term?), glitzy mega-gym across the street. The owner of “Globo-Gym” (White Goodman, played by Ben Stiller) wants to buy “Average Joe’s” across the street from it’s owner (Peter LeFleur, played by Vince Vaughn) in order to turn it into a parking lot. These guys have been rivals for a long time and it comes to a head in the events that follow. I won’t bore you with further details except to say that a professional dodgeball tournament is the answer to LeFleur and his nerd buddies problem.
The cast of characters in this film is hysterical with two exceptions: Vaughn, who was terribly miscast and just comes across as flat instead of a nice guy, and the character played by Joel Moore (Owen) who was just plain stupid and annoying. Ben Stiller in particular really shined as the ex-fatty-self-made-man (except for that inheritance he received from dad).
Is the humor crude? Of course, but some of it is quite witty in it’s satire of the fitness industry. Overall I was laughing constantly throughout the movie. I don’t want to give away the gags, so you’ll have to take my word for it.
There were a few cameos that actually worked, including David Hasselhoff, Bill Shatner, and others.
Beyond the miscasting of Vaughn and the poorly written Owen character, my only other complaint is that the movie seemed to get a bit lost at the end and wanted to top itself with a few items that really left me cold. One was gross, another was unnecessary, and the third you’ll miss if you blink, but I didn’t like the message it sent.
Overall though, I recommend it as a good way to spend 90 minutes with a comedy that’s actually funny.