Ep 45: Dodgeball

A heartwarming movie for the whole family that shows that Stephen Root is never ever bad in anything, and that everybody needs to throw a little wrench sometimes.
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Story Analysis & Ratings:

Lucy says: 5 Pops ~ One of my favorite feel-good movies of all time, and it even stands up to our gimlet eye. Wonderfully structured, incredibly funny (with the exception of some stuff that was tonally off), and oddly warm. Fabulous movie.

Lucy’s rating breakdown: Structure: 5, Comedy: 4, Romance: 5

Jenny says: 5 Pops ~ I love this movie the way I love my poker-playing clams from Florida. Sometimes something is so right you don’t care that other people think it’s wrong. Loses a comedy point for mean-spirited fat jokes because they break the tone of the story. And because they’re awful.

Jenny’s rating breakdown: Structure: 5, Comedy: 4, BRomance: 5

Blog Poll Rating: TBD

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Movie Info:

Story: A group of losers vow to defeat their rivals in a dodgeball tournament.  Release Date: June 18, 2004  Writer: Rawson Marshall Thurber


9 responses to “Ep 45: Dodgeball”

  1. I’m kinda sorry I didn’t give this another chance but I’m afraid I wouldn’t have been a good sport about it. I can appreciate the great structure, etc., but there’s something about the two main characters and much of the premise that I just can’t get into. I don’t know if it’s just this movie or if it’s this genre. I guess I’ll just wait and see until Friday and see what happens.

  2. I’m in the minority in considering this movie “just okay.” It had funny moments and a few quotable lines, but the main character didn’t seem to care about anything, which made it impossible for me to care about him. And the slapstick humor was so broad and repetitive – people getting hit by balls, wrenches, or other people. The first few were funny, but then it got old.

    But to me the biggest head scratcher is why should we care about Vince? Yes, he’s nice to his customers/friends. But what does he actually stand for, other than being fairly nice? The very first remark he made about his gym referred to it as a tax writeoff or something like that, so I kept waiting for some clue as to the source of his general apathy toward his foundering business, but it never came.

    I guess I just never could connect with the “slacker” type of male protagonist that became so popular over the past decade. That fact that he was funny and a nice guy wasn’t enough to make up for him not really standing for anything.

  3. It may be the genre, Stephanie. As Keith said, Peter takes slackerdom to an art form, and most of the humor is broad and physical which is pretty common in Guy Comedy. I think, in the same way, a lot of people can’t face romcom because of the assumptions the genre makes. Audience expectation is key. Take heart: it’s a short series.

    Good for you, Bonnie. You have excellent taste, although how you missed In Plain Sight . . . (although to be fair, I missed Leverage for three years).

  4. I just finished listening to the podcast for this, and I’ve had something stewing in my mind for the last 30 minutes.

    When you two were talking about the mean humor, all I could think was, “It’s not just mean, it’s dehumanizing.” It went beyond making fun of someone to tearing them down and turning them into nothing but the joke. I think that’s become one of my deal-breakers with movies like this. If the humor stems from dehumanizing another person, there is no value to it and it makes me ill. Mean humor can be deserved (like the dude in the forest situation you mentioned), but dehumanizing humor has no place in my world.

  5. You’re right. I still don’t know if the writer(s) had a blind spot for fat jokes, or if there was somebody who came along and inserted them, but they violate everything the movie stands for, which is making human the butt of the joke. It’s inexplicable to me that a movie whose THEME is the underdog makes fun of an underdog.

    I haven’t seen The Hangover, but as I remember, one of the saving graces (if you can call it that) in Hot Tub Time Machine is that it’s such a farce that it makes fun of everybody. But it’ll be interesting to see it again in the context of this. One thing that watching movies that share a subgenre can do is really point up the flaws in the individual films that you don’t see when you watch the movie for entertainment on its own. I always hated the damn fat jokes, but it wasn’t until we started to take it apart that I realized it was such a violation of the story’s voice and vision. It’s right up there with Rob Schneider in 50 First Dates as a deal-breaker.

  6. While I didn’t enjoy the fat jokes, and agree that they brought the overall quality of the movie down, I really don’t think it was that far out of the story’s vision. The sad fact is that mean-spirited humor is a key component of most “guy humor.” Men are always tearing each other down and laughing at each other’s failures or weaknesses. I’d submit that the part of a man who laughs when seeing somebody hit in the face with a wrench – which in reality would be an awful injury – is not that far removed from the part that would laugh at a fat joke.

    That’s part of why most guy movies leave me cold, because they never rise up above that locker-room level. Romcoms on the other hand aim higher for the most part, but still take an occasional dip downwards with the inevitable bathroom scene that we’ve seen in just about every one we studied. I think that’s just the director or writer throwing a bone to the Typical Guy Viewer, knowing that’s a surefire way to engage him.

    To me, the one part that seemed to veer from the film’s vision was Peter’s opening exchange with the female lawyer when she first showed up. He barraged her with totally sexist pickup lines, which seemed out of character with the sweet and goodhearted guy most of you found him to be. I’m surprised didn’t bug any of the PopD crowd.

  7. I think good Guy Movies don’t go for the cruelty, that there’s a slapstick quality to the wrenches (nobody bruises, nobody limps) that’s pretty much an update on the Three Stooges. It doesn’t feel cruel the way the fat jokes did. Every place else in the movie, the cruel stuff is done by White and his minions and they get theirs in the end. In the fat sections, the movie itself presented the cruelty and said, “This is part of the world of this story.” That was a violation, I thought.

    As for Peter trying to pick Kate up in the first meet scene, he was really laid back about it, keeping his distance from her; he was really BAD at it, so he wasn’t threatening and it was funny, and when she handed him his ass, he said, “Right,” and moved along to business. I put that in the “can’t blame a guy for trying” category and judge it by his reaction when she shut him down. Contrast that with White who pushed into her personal space, wouldn’t take no for an answer, continued to harass her, and got her fired so he could date her.
    I like a well-done guy movie.

  8. Off topic but I don’t know where to put it: Am I the only who can’t find the Hangover podcast, or is it just not up yet?