I fully expected nothing but quality when I went to see Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story. As it turns out, I couldn’t have been more wrong. This was an exercise in pure and utter ridiculousness, and frankly, I want my time and money back. I expected this movie to do for me what Backdraft did for firemen. I wanted it to paint dodgeball in the same glowing light that Top Gun showered pilots with. I wanted it to give every person a chance like those drillers, turned cosmonauts in Armageddon. All I got was mockery of one of the greatest competitive sports of our time, next to Rock-Paper-Scissors, competitive eating, badminton and lawn darts.
Ben Stiller and Vince Vaughn were the “stars” of this “movie.” I personally have never seen a worse portrayal of characters ever. Stiller was amateurish in his portrayal of world-class gym owner, White Goodman and Vaughn looked like he didn’t even want to be there in his attempt to capture the character of Peter Le Fleur. What is with that character’s name anyway? Is this a movie about dodgeball, or some movie about failed hockey players? Stiller looked like he was pumped up on roids and his facial expressions were just a caricature. Mr. Stiller, it is called “acting.” You know that word that constantly preceded “like an idiot” while you were growing up? And Mr. Vaughn, it is a good thing that Cabin Boy was already made because you wouldn’t stand a chance in hell of getting a part in that relative masterpiece. Chris Elliott, Pauly Shore, Carrott Top and Brendan Frasier will one day spit on your grave.
There were many cameos that added absolutely nothing to the story. Lance Armstrong showed up for a moment, along with world-renowned paintball hawker, William Shatner. Shatner was apparently using the announcer from the All Valley tournament in Karate Kid as inspiration for his 3 seconds in this movie. I would have been happy if John Creese and the evil Cobra Kai gang headed by Johnny, had shown up to kick his ass after witnessing that performance. The only saving grace was television’s David Hasselhoff who proved yet again why he was so successful with Knight Rider, and Baywatch. His acting was pure brilliance. Unfortunately, given the final result, he is going to have to leave this off of his credit sheet.
While all of these things were bad, the thing that really bugged me about this movie were the dodgeball scenes. It was overly stupid every time a match would start when the referree would point to center court, knees bent and “dramatically” yell “DODGEBALL!” I didn’t believe it for a second. Anyone who has ever played dodgeball knows that the game starts with a blow of the whistle. I don’t know who wrote this “script” but they couldn’t have known any less about their topic.
This brings me to the dodgeball “action.” I thought Matt Damon was bad in The Legend of Bagger Vance at the portrayed sport when I saw his dying duck of a golf swing. Move over mister Vance. Every single throw, dive, catch and dodge looked fake. Vince Vaughn threw as well as my grandmother with her opposite hand. Stiller was so busy making goofy faces in his poorly conceived character to let the audience suspend disbelief for even a second and think he was actually playing this sport. Not only were these throws horrendous, but then when Kate Veatch, the character played by Stiller’s wife Christine Taylor, threw the ball underhand, people went flying? I don’t think so. She has never played dodgeball and it was painfully obvious.
Last but not least, we have the kicker. The other things were bad, and I could have overlooked them all if it hadn’t been for this last fact. Two teams started from two gyms and not only just began playing in a matter of days, but made it to the final match at the tournament? This is an insult to dodgeball playing people everywhere. Many have sacrificed over the years to get the sport to where it is today. Many a fat, uncoordinated student in gym class has paid the ultimate price so champions could shine and achieve their potential in the sport of attack and flee. And to take a bunch of upstart losers and make them not only competitive, but capable of getting to the final match? Just too much to take.
So at the end of the day, we are left with what? I have a list for you. Top Gun, Backdraft, The Mighty Ducks, and finally, Over the Top. All either great inspirational movies or great sports movies. (Over the Top was both.) These were the molds which I expected to be filled by a movie with the secondary title of “A True Underdog Story.” That isn’t what I got.
Maybe next time, they will give David Hasselhoff the substantial role he deserves.
Oh, and by the way, don’t bother to stay to the very very end of the credits because that little surprise sucked too.