Sports comedies seem to have become a dying breed. Your typical entry in the genre sees a team of underdogs achieve the unlikely by beating the impossibly good and evil team and winning the big game – perhaps saving a rec centre in the process. Maybe Hollywood has run out of sports to do or maybe the formula became too over-saturated for audiences. Either way, we were left with some beloved classics like The Mighty Ducks and Blades of Glory, as well as one of the genres finest examples, Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story.
While Dodgeball isn’t the most original sports comedy and does fall prey to a few clichés, it’s of far higher comedic quality than you’d think. The movie isn’t shy to the ‘odd person gets hit and makes a silly face’ gag. Yet, its real golden material comes from its hilarious script.
It features a wacky ensemble of characters like Steve the Pirate (Alan Tudyk) and Irish wheelchair bound dodgeball legend Patches O’Houlihan (Rip Torn), alongside a host of amazing one-liners including: “No one makes me bleed my own blood” or “They’ve been disqualified … That’s a bold strategy, Cotton. Let’s see if it pays off for them.” Dodgeball is the type of comedy where I’ve regularly heard pretty much every scene quoted over these past 15 years.
Everyone knows the iconic line “if you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball.” But the movie is coated in fantastic jokes every other minute. In fact, everyone on Vince Vaughn’s Average Joe team – including Stephen Root and Justin Long in plum supporting roles – gets their fair share of comedic stand out moments.
Vaughn’s hilariously stiff straight man provides wonderful counterbalance to his eccentric teammates. However, easily the greatest character is the villainous owner of Average Joe’s rival Globo Gym, White Goodman, played by Ben Stiller. Essentially his cameo as an aggro nursing home orderly in Happy Gilmore but for a whole movie, it’s hands down the funniest performance of his career. Every line he says is magnificently quotable (“Joanie loves Chachi!”), brought to life by his zany over the top performance.
While the humour can be hit or miss for many, you’ll know pretty quickly if this is for you. And if it is, you’re in for one of the best comedies of its decade and one of my personal favourites. Dodgeball has more meat on its bones then you’d expect – thanks to Vaughn’s surprisingly melancholy performance as a man past his prime – and more memorable characters (Jason Bateman’s sports commentator Pepper Brooks) than you’d think. If you haven’t watched Dodgeball before, it comes highly recommended. And if you have seen it before, give it another watch. It’ll make for a great movie night in.