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Film Talk: Looking Back – Dipping, ducking and diving with Dodgeball

Who says an average Joe can’t win the day?

The cast of Dodgeball
The cast of Dodgeball

Written and directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber, 2004’s Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story took us to the fun world of sports comedy, and remains an enjoyable light delight to this day.

With Vince Vaughn and Ben Stiller leading the charge in front of the camera, Dodgeball was packing its fair share of comedy heavyweight, backed up with a supporting cast including Rip Torn, Christine Taylor, Justin Long, Alan Tudyk and Stephen Root.

Following a group of misfits entering a Las Vegas dodgeball tournament to save their cherished local gym from the onslaught of a corporate health fitness chain, the flick consists of a pretty simple plot, but one that is executed well to deliver plenty of no-nonsense laughter and some easy entertainment…

Globo Gym is a behemoth of a fitness chain whose members and staff are dedicated to the pursuit of physical perfection and the superiority complex to match.

The chain is run by the egotistical and ridiculous White Goodman (Stiller), founder of Globo Gym, as well as its first customer and creator of its trademark ‘lifestyle’.

Only next door on the other hand is Average Joe’s Gymnasium – a more honest and happy-go-lucky gym built for normal chaps just looking to get by. Owner Peter La Fleur (Vaughn) is as laid back as the customers he caters for, but soon he is forced to step up and be a man of action.

As White Goodman plots a hostile takeover of Average Joe’s, La Fleur is forced to think outside of the box to raise enough money to keep hold of his gym.

As he consults with his oddball, but closely knit membership on what to do, they ultimately settle on entering a competition none of them would ever have dreamed in partaking in before – the Las Vegas Annual Dodgeball Championship.

With a cash prize at stake that could be the answer to La Fleur’s prayers, the unlikely band embark on their tournament journey.

With the help of dodgeball legend Patches O’Houlihan (Torn) – who agrees to become their new coach – and the support of beautiful lawyer Kate (Taylor), the Average Joe’s team works toward championship glory.

There’s just one problem however – Average Joe’s is not the only gym to have put forward a team.

Enter White Goodman and the Globe Gym Purple Cobras. Hell bent on acquiring La Fleur’s gym for himself, Goodman and his elite squad will stop at nothing to knock Average Joe’s out of the dodgeball championship. But will they succeed, or will the underdogs have their day?

Grossing over $29 million in its first week, Dodgeball went on to gross a worldwide total of $167.7 million.

Though far overshadowed in cult status by Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (also released in 2004 and also featuring Vaughn and Stiller), Dodgeball was an enjoyable yarn that – though with fewer memorable quotes than Anchorman – has weathered well precisely because it has not spent the last 17 years having been impersonated to death.

With good turns by both Vaughn and Stiller, and a particularly fun outing from Tudyk as Pirate Steve, Dodgeball was a simple, cleanly-cut laugh, that still evokes a giggle at the third re-watch.

A great accompaniment to a Friday night pizza and a six-pack of lager, get comfy and let the good times roll.

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