Dodgeball (2004)

Entropic and investable filled with campy ’80’s mega-charm, anticorporatism/self-love themes, and one-of-a-kind characterization led by a career Stiller performance epically-satirizing work-out/gym culture, Dodgeball is one of the best modern comedies. 8.9/10.

Plot Synopsis: Average Joe’s Gym and owner Peter La Fleur (Vince Vaughn) are a happy-go-lucky gym that comes into financial problems and are threatened to have their gym taken over by bigger rival Globo Gym and its owner White Goodman (Ben Stiller). Hoping to save the place that means everything to them, Average Joe’s trains and enters a Dodgeball tournament with prize money enough to save the gym, but Globo Gym decides to join too

*Possible spoilers ahead*

Official CLC Review

A Time-Capsule Of The ’80’s

After A Slew Of Forgettable Modern Comedies & Sports Movies, Perhaps The Trick Is A Step Into The Genres’ Beginnings

Photograph Courtesy Of: 20th Century Fox

Ah, the ’80’s. The return of studio-driven pictures, introduction of PG-13, dominance of camp-comedies, and rise of high-concept blockbusters/franchises that would come to define pop-cinema in today’s age. Like many of its early nescient concepts, these have become pummeled by a rapid evolution of scale in the moviemaking industry; what might’ve been a one-off that still tried in scripting and pitching has not become 10’s or 100’s of cookie-cuts – especially in two genres: sports movies and comedies. As 1985’s Back To The Future hypothesized, sometimes a trip to the past can help save our present and future – and Dodgeball is that revolution. Entropic and investable as a sports underdog story filled with campy ’80’s mega-charm, anticorporatism self-love themes, and one-of-a-kind characterization led by a career Stiller performance epically-satirizing modern work-out/gym culture, Dodgeball is one of the best modern comedies.

Nostalgic Charm & Small-Town America

A Metaphorization Of Anti-Corporatism Through The Lens Of David vs. Goliath: Avg. Joe’s vs. Globo Gym – Bursting ’80’s Charm

Photograph Courtesy Of: 20th Century Fox

Best about Dodgeball is the veiled religious and small-town anti-corporatism thematization. The red-brick street corner of charming little shops and a gym so average it’s even in the name and apparent by the logo is zoomed-out to find a hyper-modern silver spaceship-gym called Globo Gym right next door – a clever critique of gentrification and modernization against the small-business core of America and the ’80’s. The crooked-salesmen, beautification-fakeness, and fat-shaming techniques of GG wreak of exploitative capitalism (while stretched out to hilarious farcical proportions, as I’ll explain later) – and the juxtaposition of all of this masochistic torture in the name of ‘fitness’ against the happier/free-but-rotund joes also says a lot about our modern gym culture. There is even exposition of food’s comfort and dual-edged sword: necessary for survival and a source of joy, but also highly-dangerous and an overdosable depression-medicine. Finally, there is a whole lot of sports cogitation and morality parable – highlights of the good they do prismatic of society, teamwork, and camaraderie as well as a way to stay fit/healthy and meet friends.. and rebuke of the toxic-masculinity-fueled bad personified by one of the great characters/performances in comedy history: Ben Stiller’s White Goodman.

One Of The Best Performances Of Comedy

Epically-Satirizing Workout/Gym Culture, Stiller’s Masochistic, Fratbro, Handlebar-Mustached Goodman Is A Legendary Villain

Photograph Courtesy Of: 20th Century Fox

From its opening scene, Dodgeball is all about the characters – and none steals the screen more than Ben Stiller’s White Goodman. A comedic masterpiece, Stiller’s fratbro, handlebar-mustached, egocentric, elitist, masochistic Goodman epically-satirizes modern gym/workout culture – a physicality-led, instantly-quotable career performance that might be the ’80’s and white dadbods at the gym exemplified to perfection. The gags he’s given work perfectly to highlight the satire of sports – literal self-torture with electro-shock therapy everytime he tries to eat a doughnut, adding weight to the women’s scales [to make them feel fatter], eating suffocated kumquats, pizza-masturbation, and authoritarian-dictatorship befit with even a few chilling villain sequences in addition to all of the fake-intense goofiness when he does cigar-smoky backroom deals for 100k cash like the devil trying to get someone to sign for their soul. The counterbalance is the perfect everyman of classical underdog Americana that deserves just as much celebration: Vince Vaughn’s Peter La Fleur. Effortlessly-charming with a gentle happy-go-lucky irreverence and apathetic underachievement, La Fleur barely blinks an eyelash at threats of eviction and drinks the sorrows away – but his care, love, and welcoming of all for his legion of losers is damn-rootable and the personification of average ’80’s American joes reverberated brilliantly by the gym’s name.

Dodge, Duck, Dip, Dive, & Dodge

The Rest Of The Vaughn-Led Performances Are Just As Strong & Charismatic; & The Dodgeball Scenes Absolutely *Hilarious*

Photograph Courtesy Of: 20th Century Fox

The chemistry of the two is fantastic, and supported by a litany of incredible characterization. Joel David Moore’s whitebread tax consultant with a bowlcut and dating problems, Chris Williams’ fake-street guy, Stephen Roots’ classical dadbod walking around with fake-workout toughness complete-with-walkman, Justin Long’s fantastic high school loser [one of the best supporting performances, exemplifies underdog spirit and adds boy-meets-girl romance too], Alan Tudyk’s Peter The (Random) Pirate, Norwegian boil-player, Cotton McKnight, Goodman’s consigliere Michel, Blazer, Lazer, Blader, and Rip Torn’s hard-R-Mr. Miyagi Patches O’Hoolihan – the characterization is absolutely f*cking amazing, a once-in-a-decade collection, and comical in every remote sense of the word. Christine Taylor’s bonde lawyer-turned-secret-weapon is strong too, even more impressive in consideration that she’s actually Ben Stiller’s wife in-real-life and plays the part like she hates the sight of him as Goodman very convincingly. There’s even epic cameos by legends of the classic era-movies Dodgeball draws inspiration from: Chuck Norris, David Hasselhoff, William Shatner, and Lance Armstrong [one scene that didn’t age well being the voice of determination/triumph to La Fleur.. after his cheating scandal of Tour De France broke, but nonetheless].

The Profane Hard-R Adult-Comedy

Throughout The Movie, A Wide Spectrum Of Raunchy Comedy/Jokes – All Mature & 100% Effective; One Of The Funniest Movies Ever

Photograph Courtesy Of: 20th Century Fox

The comedy throughout the film is absolutely epic and one of the funniest collections I’ve ever seen to-date. This is profane, do-not-give-a-fck hard-R adult-comedy in pure form: from bikini-clad car-washes to steroidal girl scouts to 1930’s racism/bullying-littered children’s sports instructional videos to the most farcial and imaginative of training sessions spoofing/subverting the entirety of sports/underdog movies. ‘If you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball.’ Even nonetheless and after this masterclass of quotability comedy probably the best I’ve seen since Anchorman, also incredibly-released in 2004, there’s far more to the canvas. The sports scenes are viscerally-thrilling and double quite-nicely as a showcase for a fast-paced indie sport we all played in school but rarely gets consideration on this high of a level. There’s dark themes and multi-reflexive characterization in, for example, how Goodman loses not only everything by a merciless La Fleur but also goes back to 600-lbs: one of the most horrific sights you’ll ever see and one that haunts my nightmares to this day; one that ends the film on a note as dark, sad, and bad taste as the KFC in his mouth as well as insensitive to people who hide their depressions in the comfort of food [Goodman deserved it, but it shouldn’t have been him characterization-wise]. One of my few, if only, gripes with the film.

ESPN 8: The Ocho & Dark Themes

A Las Vegas Conclusion That’s Epic, Subverts Genre-Clichés, Well-Scored, & Even Packed With Dark Food/Mind-Game Thematization

Photograph Courtesy Of: 20th Century Fox

The costumes are great all-around, especially when it gets to the dodgeball tournament on ESPN 8: The Ocho, score just as nostalgically-80’s as its screenplay filled with emotive plucky wurlizters and synthy powerchords/techno all the way to heavy metal as it reverberates amazingly the feel and themes of the film, sets strongly-constructed, and even some mind-games. The only con other than the ending shot is of course the undavoidable formulaism/clichés that come with an underdog/dark-horse sports film – although it makes every constant effort to wildly-subvert them. For example, instead of the underdog simply coming back to win the whole tournament after its patriarch thinks about quitting before facing the ultimate Goliath boss-battle, Dodgeball sees La Fleur sell his metaphorical soul to Goodman and, only after being guilt-tripped by Lance, reinvest it into Vegas-betting on himself to 10x his winnings and buy out the stock-shares of Globo Gym. That’s an A+ for screenwriting and ambition to write around the cliché – and the film easily gets a pass either way for how magnificent its constant stream of 1.5 hour laughs and elaborate satire-comedy is.

Conclusion

One Of The Best Comedies Of The 2000’s

Entropic & Investable Filled With Classic ’80’s Campy Charm, Anticorporatism/Self-Love Themes, & One-Of-A-Kind Characters Led By A Career-Define Stiller Performance

Photograph Courtesy Of: 20th Century Fox

Overall, Dodgeball is one of the best American comedies ever made – and one of the best comedies of the 2000’s. Ben Stiller’s performance as the lilliputian, feather-haired, handlebar-stached, food-masochistic White Goodman is one of the greatest performances of the genre’s history – a brilliant satirization of modern work-out culture and the ’80’s gym-boom protagonists of an era by-gone in cinema that’s every bit as hilarious as his story is tragic and chilling. Vaughn is fantastic as well: an understated, apathetic, effortlessly-charming everyman and underdog you can’t help but cheer for, as he leads a team of incredibly-scripted and acted loser-archetypes you will probably recognize to the holy grail of ESPN 8: The Ocho’s ADAA Dodgeball Championship. The comedy is some of the best and funniest I’ve ever seen [few times have I ever been subject to a consistent stream of raunchy, mature, laugh-out-loud hard-R comedy for 1.5 hours as here], screenplay filled with quotable lines, diversity of tonicism good, sports-clichés [overall]-subverted, action scenes thrilling, score great in synthy ’80’s powerchords juxtaposed with airy wurlitzers, and themes complex more than was to-be expected. The film works as a veiled critique of corporatism and celebration of small-town America of eras-past in its hierarchical dynamic of David-vs.-Goliath: Average Joe vs. Globo Gym. There is also a celebration of the good inclusion/healthiness part of sports instead of toxic masculine Goodman-part it denunciates – and exposition on the dual-edged sword of food and how it can be used as a crux, sadly, for tragedy and life’s sadness as both White and La Fleur epitomize. Entropic and investable as a sports underdog story filled with campy ’80’s mega-charm, anticorporatism self-love themes, and one-of-a-kind characterization led by a career Stiller performance epically-satirizing modern work-out/gym culture, Dodgeball is one of the best modern comedies.

Official CLC Score: 8.9/10