There are a lot of movies that I wished I had seen at the theater. Dodgeball is one of them. I’m a horrible procrastinator. I’ll see an advertisement for a movie and I’ll think ‘I should see that’ and that’s the last of that thought. I was raised in the ‘70s, when a movie chain would hold on to a movie for two or more seasons to wring every last penny out of it. So, when a movie that is a hit comes out, I fall back into the mentality of ‘it’s going to be there for a while, I’m not going to stress out over it’.
Then the leaves change and the squirrels hot-wire my car for warmth and I look up at the marquee and see that one film I had been dithering about is now gone. Trust me, you’re not the only one who is overenthusiastic for digital services. I can finally get around to see what the hub-bub is about this Lawrence of Arabia flick is about.
Back to Dodgeball.
This is a perfect summer comedy. Something to go see with friends and you don’t have to really over-exert yourself. Everyone plays to their strengths – Vince Vaughn is the clever and lovable guy. Ben Stiller is the hypercompetive neurotic type and Justin Long is the sweet guy. This is a studio film right now the line, but that’s O.K. – not all formulaic studio productions are soul-sucking, money devouring abominations…just the ones that are put out by Disney (come at me, Mouse House).
I feel we need comedies like this. Not just the ‘underdog wins the big game’, but just a comedy that doesn’t have any sort of hidden political agenda or any other sort of chest thumping. I want a comedy that exists to make me laugh and feel good for a few minutes, not laugh one minute, then rage against society. Dodgeball did that perfectly, and trust me…I am someone who needs to laugh very often.
The only nit pick I have with this film is Alan Tudyk’s character in the final scene. I wasn’t happy that he went back to “pirate-mode” even after getting his haircut and a decent polo shirt. Personally, I would have had him look at the cash and say “Nah. Let’s just call it even”. The whole reason he wasn’t there for the final game was his soul (and shirt) searching. it’s such a small thing, and it didn’t pull me out of the movie that badly. A definitely understated performance was Jason Bateman’s turn as the color commentator Pepper Brooks. His vaguely addled demeanor against Gary Cole’s professional turn was a nice and subtle jab at sports commentary.
The real part shines is when the dodgeballs go flying and everyone takes a hit without flinching. I can tell you, none of them were first-takes. Interesting bit of trivia – when Justin Long is hit by a wrench, he actually suffered an injury, his eyebrow was gashed. The wrenches were all made of foam, but that one that hit Justin was a bit more sturdy than the others. We must all suffer for our art.
But you won’t suffer in watching Dodgeball.