‘Dodgeball’ a painful pleasure

By Kevin Wilson: Freedom Newspapers

In a cheesy “how-to” film reel on dodgeball, in the movie called “Dodgeball,” viewers are taught the five Ds of dodgeball — Dodge, Duck, Dip, Dive — and Dodge.
After about 90 minutes, it’s evident that the fifth “D” in the weekend’s top movie should stand for dumb. Still, “Dodgeball” is true to what it is, an entertaining 97 minutes in the spirit of quasi-classic sports comedies like “Baseketball” and “The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh.”
Vince Vaughn is best remembered as the jerk from “Swingers,” the jerk from “Old School” and (of course) the jerk from “Made.” In “Dodgeball,” though, he appears as good guy Peter Le Fleur, a man who epitomizes the Average Joe’s Gym that he owns.
Peter makes no real distinction between his customers and his friends, often letting them pay membership dues whenever they can. It’s not surprising that he’s in financial trouble, and the bank will foreclose on Average Joe’s unless he can come up with $50,000 in 30 days.
Adding to Peter’s troubles is White Goodman, portrayed by Ben Stiller. Goodman owns Globo Gym, the multimillion-dollar fitness center, and he plans to buy Average Joe’s from the bank at the end of the 30 days.
After a few rejected ideas, Peter and some of the gym’s core members band together as a dodgeball team, intent on winning the national championship and the prize of — yes, you guessed it — $50,000.
The Joe’s team earns its way to the national tournament, broadcast on the fictional television network ESPN8 (”If it’s almost a sport, we’ve got it here!”). There is stiff competition from teams across the country, but Globo Gym presents the biggest challenge.
With help from Kate Veatch (played by Christine Taylor, Stiller’s wife), the Average Joes earn their way to the championship game, but not before several funny but unnecessary cameos take place.
The funniest parts of this movie are: A) the training regimen, where team members dodge inexplicable objects in preparation for nationals — I think everybody’s heard the “if you can dodge a wrench …” line already — and B) the general stupidity of some characters, as if the characters in “Zoolander” were dodgeball players in a parallel universe.
The story is very predictable, with more obvious foreshadowing than many “Scooby-Doo” episodes.
In the end, though, the things I’ve complained about can’t be considered marks against this movie. Everybody who walked into the theater last weekend expected a dumbed-down comedy, and that’s exactly what Stiller and Vaughn gave us.
You could dodge this movie if you wanted to, but I wouldn’t recommend it. As White Goodman might say, “I don’t think that this movie’s as dumb as you thought that I thought it once was.”
The movie delivers what it promises, and that’s why it receives a rating of four, out of a possible five.