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 Unrated version simply isn’t worth the cost, so stick with the theatrical version.
Video: How does it look?
Dodgeball is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. This is a new release from Fox, so of course, the presentation is sharp and quite impressive. The movie was made on a not so large budget, so I had some concerns, but the image here is top notch throughout. The print looks great, with no marks, nicks, or other defects, including grain, which is minimal at worst. So even in the darker scenes, which are quite frequent, the detail level remains high and the visuals never have a soft texture. The colors look bright when needed, such as the bold uniforms, while black levels are razor sharp and as well balanced as we could demand. In other words, another fantastic visual presentation from Fox, so kudos to them on this one.
Audio: How does it sound?
The audio is no slouch here either, as the included Dolby Digital 5.1 hits some great moments and adds a lot to the film’s electric atmosphere. This is not a balls-to-the-wall kind of soundtrack, but it has ample surround presence and is a well crafted track. The powerful throws are enhanced thanks to well timed audio peaks, so you’ll wince a little more than usual, which of course, makes the movie more fun to watch. There are also some good subtle touches, such as live sporting event type atmosphere, which again, adds to the experience, since you feel like you’re out in the arena also. The music has plenty of life too, thanks to the surrounds, while dialogue never runs into any troubles either. This disc also includes French and Spanish language tracks, as well as subtitles in English and Spanish.
Supplements: What are the extras?
A new audio commentary track was promised and while its been a while since I heard the old one, I didn’t find this one to be that fresh. 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, a gag reel, and the film’s theatrical trailer.