Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story (2004)

Genres - Comedy  |   Sub-Genres - Sports Comedy  |   Release Date - Jun 18, 2004 (USA)  |   Run Time - 92 min.  |   Countries - United States  |   MPAA Rating - PG13
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Review by Perry Seibert

Rawson Marshall Thurber's feature-length directorial debut, Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story, is a success thanks to its cast and its smartly structured screenplay. Vince Vaughn, (playing a part that has Stripes-era Bill Murray written all over it) is an agreeable underachiever, Ben Stiller plays outright unlikable for the first time in a film, Stephen Root continues to show why he may be the most underappreciated comic actor working, Rip Torn steals every scene he is in, and Gary Cole does a comedic pas de deux with Jason Bateman as a pair of sports announcers that rivals (without imitating) the similar duo from Best in Show. The film keeps the audience engaged by utilizing different kinds of comedy and performers with very different styles. Like the old joke about the weather, if you don't think something in this film is funny, wait five minutes and it will change. Because Thurber has tightly structured his story on the very familiar theme of underdogs, the film can support the comedic styles of the various performers. Like a good jazz composition, the screenplay supports the various performers as they solo and challenge each other. Make no mistake, this is a very slight film, but it succeeds at the most basic level for a comedy -- it produces laughs without hitting the audience over the head.