Plot: What’s it about?
Peter La Fleur (Vince Vaughn) is as laid back as a man could be, even when it comes to his business, Average Joe’s Gym. He keeps terrible records and hasn’t collected dues in over a year, but he loves his clients and spends a lot of time out with the people. His clients are’t the usual gym goers, as most of the serious fitness folks choose GloboGym, a huge corporate chain that happens to be right next door. GloboGym is run by White Goodman (Ben Stiller), a fitness guru who was once fat, but is now a picture of physical fitness. He runs his gym with an iron fist and uses torture to keep his own weight off. When Peter learns he owes fifty-thousand dollars to the bank, he thinks the news is bad, but things soon take an even worse turn. Goodman has purchased the mortgage from the bank, which means unless Peter can scrape up the cash and quick, GloboGym will have a new parking lot where Average Joe’s stands. After a failed car wash fundraiser, the idea is brought up to enter a national dodgeball tournament, which has a prize of fifty-thousand dollars. Peter is hesitant, but his clients are determined to keep the doors open. The road is rocky, but with some help from a former dodgeball champion, the group enters the tournament. But when GloboGym also fields a team, does it spell disaster for Average Joe’s?
The newest trend in home video is to release an Unrated version, a spicier cut of a movie to entice viewers to plunk down their cash a second time. Some of these releases are worthwhile, with new footage and sometimes a slew of new extras, but some are simply pathetic. Dodgeball is one such case. The movie itself has a few seconds of extended footage, but this is not what is being advertised here. Since Fox gave us pretty much the same movie, my thoughts on the theatrical version remain pertinent. If you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball. Such is the lesson learned from Dodgeball, an outlandish movie that is rooted in the old style sports movie genre, in which a band of misfits team up to take on the superior forces. The case even says it all, calling Dodgeball a “true underdog story,” which is quite accurate. But aside from the basic formula and presence of the grizzled, burned out old coach, this bears little resemblance to films like Major League, Necessary Roughness, or The Replacements. The guys don’t even know the sport until halfway through the movie, but the usual training sessions are present and in an odd little twist, the guys never really get that good, which adds in some freshness. This is basically a lowbrow comedy with some sports added in, a blend that works well, but not that well. Yes, Dodgeball has some great laughs, but not enough of them, so some spots are rather dull. But no comedy hits all the right notes and Dodgeball is passable, harmless fun. Vince Vaughn is barely awake in his role, while Ben Stiller, Rip Torn, and Christine Taylor go over the top and then some. I think if you’re in the mood for some laughs, Dodgeball is a solid rental choice, though replay value is somewhat limited. This Blu-ray release offers a modest bump in visuals, but little else, so only diehard fans will probably want to upgrade.
Video: How does it look?
Dodgeball is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. This movie looks more than solid, but isn’t the substantial step up from the DVD I expected. This almost seems like an older transfer that was pulled out, instead of a freshly minted one, which makes sense, as Dodgeball was announced, then delayed a while back. Even so, detail is solid at all times and picks up when the action does, so the visuals deliver. But I wanted depth like we see in the best Blu-ray releases and that isn’t here. The colors look bright and contrast is accurate, however. So while this doesn’t have the clout to hang with Blu-ray’s elite titles, Dodgeball looks more than solid and should please fans.
Audio: How does it sound?
This DTS HD 5.1 option serves its purpose, but doesn’t offer much beyond the basics. Once the tournament begins, the surrounds pick up somewhat, but not enough to elevate the audio experience. Even so, the hard dodgeball hits register nice thuds, so not all is bland in this mix. The music also adds some life, which is most welcome. But for the most part, this is a standard comedy mix, with emphasis on dialogue, which does sound excellent. So in the end, not a memorable soundtrack, but a solid one. This disc also includes Spanish and French language tracks, as well as subtitles in English, Spanish, Mandarin, Cantonese, and Korean.
Supplements: What are the extras?
The same commentary from the unrated DVD is back, one which is decent, but seems warmed over. Perhaps some outtakes were culled in with material from the original, as I would swear I’ve heard a lot of this stuff before. The only new extra is a series of videos of some girls dancing, not really enough to warrant another purchase of this movie. The old extras are all here though, so here’s the rundown on those. You can also browse some deleted scenes, which include an alternate end sequence. This disc also includes some brief featurettes, and a gag reel.