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Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story, commonly referred to as simply Dodgeball, is a American comedy film produced by 20th Century Fox and Red Hour Productions, written and directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber and starring Vince Vaughn, Ben Stiller, Christine Taylor, and Rip Torn. The film focuses on a rivalry between the owners of Average Joe's, a small gym, and Globo-Gym, a competing big-budget gym located across the street. Peter LaFleur (Vaughn), the owner of the smaller gym, has defaulted on his mortgage and enters a dodgeball tournament in an attempt to earn the money necessary to prevent his gym from being purchased by Globo-Gym. Globo-Gym enters a team in the tournament in an effort to ensure that Average Joe's gym fails.

Dodgeball received generally good reviews, with a 70% aggregate rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The film was a commercial success, grossing over $30 million in its first week and eventually grossed more than $114 million domestically.

Plot

Peter LaFleur (Vince Vaughn) is the laid-back, down-to-earth owner of Average Joe's, a failing, decaying gym with a handful of loyal, but eccentric, members, including Steve the Pirate (Alan Tudyk), Justin (Justin Long), Gordon (Stephen Root), and employees Dwight (Chris Williams) and Owen (Joel David Moore). His rival, White Goodman (Ben Stiller), owner of the glamorous, highly-sucessful Globo-Gym located across the street, has purchased Average Joe's defaulted mortgage. Therefore, Peter must raise $50,000 in thirty days in order to redeem the equity of redemption on the about-to-be-foreclosed mortgage, or else Goodman will successfully foreclose upon Average Joe's Gym and demolish it for a parking garage. Working on this transaction is attorney Kate Veatch (Christine Taylor), whom White attempts and fails to charm on multiple different occasions. However, Veatch and Peter develop a friendship despite her role in his business troubles.

To raise the money, Average Joe's holds a car wash, only to find that right across the street that same day, a bunch of women wearing bikinis host their own and steal all the business from them, except for one dubious customer. Gordon declares that they can win the money needed to pay the redemption costs by winning a dodgeball competition in Las Vegas, and they begin to train to enter the tournament. The team watches a 1950s-style training film, featuring legendary dodgeball star Patches O'Houlihan (Hank Azaria), to learn about dodgeball.

By spying on them, White learns of their plans to enter the contest, and decides to enter it himself to prevent Average Joe's gym raising the money needed to pay off their debts. He forms a super-powerful team, which he names "The Purple Cobras", that includes his own personal trainer and assistant, Me'Shell, Romanovian dodgeball champion Fran (Missi Pyle), and three very athletic men from his gym, Blade, Lazer, and Blazer. Although they lose the first match, the Average Joe's team manages to enter the tournament by default after their first opponent, a Girl Scout troop, is disqualified because one of their members has failed a drug test. After celebrating this initial win, Peter is approached by Patches O'Houlihan (Rip Torn), a legendary but now wheelchair-bound former dodgeball player, who offers to coach the team.

Despite undergoing Patches' questionable and painful training methods (such as dodging cars, and having wrenches thrown at them), the team begins to steadily improve. Kate, although reluctantly at first, demonstrates that she has substantial potential as a dodgeball player, and agrees to join their team after finally reaching her limit with White’s inept, arrogant attempts at courting her (including firing her so he would not be dating an employee).

At the tournament, which is held in Las Vegasmarker and televised by ESPN8, the team proves to be an underdog success, which wins over the audience and sportscasters Cotton McKnight (Gary Cole) and Pepper Brooks (Jason Bateman). Despite numerous setbacks, such as being delivered the wrong uniforms, Average Joe's successfully makes it through to the final, where they will face White’s team, The Purple Cobras. The night before, the team's confidence takes a severe hit when Patches is inadvertently killed by a falling billboard. White meets with Peter and offers him $100,000 in cash to hand over the Average Joe's deed and forfeit the upcoming finals match. The team begins to drift apart. Several are distracted away from the final, with Steve (the pirate) being discouraged by Peter and by a hate attack, and Justin being asked by his classmate Amber (Julie Gonzalo) to help in her cheerleading championship. Justin arrives on time but they do not have enough players turn up to compete. Peter – his confidence shattered – seems to be about to desert his friends when he bumps into Lance Armstrong, who motivates him to return. He arrives just as Average Joe's is to be forfeited from the final, but a tie-breaking vote from judge Chuck Norris allows them to play.

The final match pits Average Joe's against the Purple Cobras led by White. White manages to strike Peter and almost wins but the referee announces he stepped over the line and Peter is still in. The tournament comes down to a sudden-death playoff between White and Peter; inspired by a vision of the deceased Patches, a blindfolded Peter manages to dodge White’s shot and strike him, winning the match and the $50,000 cash prize. Although White reveals that Peter did, in fact, sell the gym the night before, Peter replies by revealing that he has used the money to bet on Average Joe's to win (at 50-to-1 odds), winning $5,000,000, enough to buy a controlling stake in Globo-Gym (which now includes Average Joe's), thus buying White out. After this, Kate is seen kissing and reuniting with Joyce, her assumed lesbian lover, at which Peter and Dwight look on in shock. Kate then reveals she isn't lesbian, but bisexual, and kisses Peter.

Average Joe's becomes a success, Justin's girlfriend Amber becomes pregnant, Owen and Fran are seen in matching jumpsuits with hands around each other, Steve has reverted back to his pirate ways, Peter has opened youth dodgeball classes at the gym, and White drowns his sorrows in junk food, becoming obese again as a result. He also blames Chuck Norris for not letting him win the tournament.

Cast



Reception

The film received mostly positive reviews from critics, although Slant Magazine dismissed the movie as "a less-than-one-joke film", while TV Guide remarked that Ben Stiller "doesn't know when to stop". Other critics, such as the Boston Globe, praised Stiller's satirical take on male virility and praised the chemistry between Vince Vaughn and Christine Taylor. Joe Morgenstern of The Wall Street Journal initially declined to review the movie, believing it wasn't worthy of his time. However, after reviewing the DVD, he changed his view of the movie, writing, "Mea culpa, mea culpa. Rawson Marshall Thurber's debut feature, starring Ben Stiller opposite Vince Vaughn, is erratic, imbecilic if not completely idiotic, inconsequential in even the small scheme of things, and thoroughly entertaining. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film received a 70% "fresh" rating out of 151 reviews, with 105 of the reviews being positive. The film was mostly praised for its "cheerfully sloppy, dumb fun" according to the website.

Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story proved to be a large success upon its release. In its first week, the film grossed over $30 million, eventually grossing a domestic total of $114,324,072.

Awards



References

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