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Monday, July 05, 2004
Saw Dodgeball this weekend. I was really looking forward to this for some reason and waved off Harry Potter, Spiderman 2, Farenheit 911 a second time, and De-Lovely for the chance to see it.

Lately it seems a lot of trailers highlight the lamest parts of a movie. I suppose it's a concession to the 13-17 year-olds who make up 80% of movie audiences. At the other extreme, there are those movies which exhaust all the best gags in the previews. The commercials for Dodgeball looked pretty funny. If this is the low-brow stuff, I thought, the rest of the film could be damned funny. Dodgeball is more than the sum of its trailer clips. But not much more.

I got the impression for the previews that this was a film about some alternate galaxy (not that far away and not that long ago) where dodgeball is a major professional sport. Rollerball meets Caddyshack. That was the best case scenario. But then I wasn't counting on a character who thought he was a pirate. We get a flashback of the lad aspiring to be a cheerleader at his Catholic high school eating fat girl muff in a tryout gone horribly and tastelessly awry. How about a short flashback of Steve the Pirate dressed up like the Real Slimy Shady catching his first glimpse of Johnny Depp as Pirate Keith Richards in a Pirates of the Carribbean movie poster outside his local movie house? Or riding Pirates of the Carribbean as a 6 year-old and popping a boner? Instead, he lunges at us, a hackneyed and inexplicable Fisher King.

I guess I should have taken the subtitle, "A True Underdog Story," more seriously. It turns out it's the same old bloated tale of a group of losers coming together to save the family farm from a mustache-twirling villain. Except in this case, the family farm is Average Joe's Gym (run by above-average slacker Vince Vaughn) and the villain (Ben Stiller, making us all feel the burn) doesn't twirl his mustache so much as jerk off with greasy slices of pizza. Now Arnold Schwarzeneggar playing White Goodman -- that would have been a fucking masterpiece!

Most of the jokes in the movie are so exhausted and fat, they're blowing before the scene's half-played. To learn the rules of dodgeball, our loveable squad of losers gets hold of an old educational film from the local high school. This is a gag that The Simpsons have turned into an art. But it's been worked to death there and the influence here is pretty obvious. Tone down the stereotypes and the cliches and this would a comedy for the ages. It would also be about 25 minutes long (a little longer than the average movie preview.)

What this movie needs is some more fucking dodgeball action. That was by far the funniest part of the film. Balls-in-your-face jokes get old real fast. There is something about seeing someone actually get smacked in the face with a red rubber ball that never does.