|Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story|
|Written by Noah Fleming|
|Thursday, 11 December 2008|
Vince Vaughn plays Peter La Fleur, the owner of Avergae Joe's Gym, which happens to be full of rusty equipment and in foreclosure. Christine Taylor plays Kate, an accountant for the bank that is foreclosing on the gym. She is hired by White Goodman (Ben Stiller) who is owner of Globo Gym and looking to purchase Average Joe's. In order to prevent foreclosure, Peter must come up with $50,000 in 30 days. His odd but loyal patrons all try to help him raise the money. The band of geeks comprise of Justin Long, Stephen Root, Chris Williams, among others.
Stephen Root (better known as Milton from "Office Space") is a geek that reads Obscure Sports Quarterly and comes up with the idea for the troop to enter the Las Vegas Dodgeball International Tournament – cash prize is of course $50,000 on the dot. dodgeball is turned into this huge event in Las Vegas, amplified by the live coverage by ESPN * "The Ocho." The commentators for ESPN 8 are terrific in their own right. Gary Cole and Jason Bateman deliver stellar performances as Cotton McKnight and Pepper Brooks, respectively.
As only natural, White is spying on the boys over at Average Joe's, and learns of their dodgeball plans. He forms his own squad, made up of the largest human specimens that could be found. The Average Joe team is coached by 7-time dodgeball champion, Patches O'Houlihan (Rip Torn). He is another wonderful addition to the stellar cast. Of course, the final showdown comes to Average Joe's versus Globo Gym and a sudden death round. The unfolding of the story is classic and interesting at every turn.
Ben Stiller is the true star of the film. His utterly stupid lines will have you laughing hysterically. He never falters. His attempted on-screen romance with real-life wife Christine Taylor is to die for. "I know more than you know I know." Just truly fantastic writing and acting by Stiller.
Vince Vaughn is the same in every movie. His demeanor has stereotyped him in the industry, or he simply can only act one way (if you call it acting). Take a look at "Fred Claus," "Mr. and Mrs. Smith," "Wedding Crashers, "Old School," the list goes on. They are all the same when it comes to Vaughn. He is almost the sole reason why this film did not get a higher rating.
"Dodgeball" comes to Blu-ray on a BD-50 disc with an MPEG-2 video transfer. The image quality is decent, but definitely not great. There is plenty of color, however, the black levels only seem to have two speeds, super dark or super light. There is some apparent digital noise reduction added to the image, which causes the details and textures to suffer. The image appears muddy and blurred at various points throughout the film. The contrast is near perfect. However, there appears to be some artifacting/blocking as a result of the digital noise reduction and/or edge enhancement. Still, this video presentation is far better than the one given on the standard DVD edition.
The audio given to us is a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track. Unfortunately, it is not a terrific audio transfer. The dialogue is unbalanced from the get go. It raises and lowers in volume for no reason. It does improve as the film goes on. The dynamics are unstable, sometimes moving in the opposite direction than the image action on-screen. The LFE channel is only slightly present, usually just for the music score. The music and ambience are about the only things in the surround channels. Discrete effects are absent from the rears. The surround channels do offer a slight enveloping feeling, but it still remains primarily a front-heavy mix. This is a decent audio track, but nothing to demo your system with. Many of the issues are original sound design and mixing problems.
The disc contains all the bonus material that are present on the previous standard DVD edition. They all remain in standard definition. All the basics are covered in the special features section. There is a compilation of deleted scenes as well as a blooper/gag reel. Both sections are funny and worth a look. There is a full-length audio commentary with director/writer Rawson Marshall Thurber and actors Ben Stiller and Vince Vaughn. Ben Stiller is the highlight of this commentary and is definitely worth a listen if you are a fan. There are a few featurettes also on the disc. "Dodgeball Boot Camp: Training for 'Dodgeball'" covers the actors' training for the game. "The Anatomy of a Hit" analyzes the game of dodgeball. "Dodgeball: Go for the Gold" is a behind the scenes featurette. "Justin Long: A Study of Ham & Cheese" is a collection of about 3 minutes of raw footage of Justin standing in a lineup for cheerleading auditions saying random, weird things. Lastly, there is a brief feature, "The Dancers in Different Colors." This section just displays the full dance routines of the dodgeball game cheerleader dancers in different color uniforms – pink, blue and black. That wraps up the special features.
"Dodgeball" is a film that will definitely make you laugh. If you aren't a fan of Vince Vaughn then it might be hard to look past his role in the film. However, Ben Stiller more than makes up for it. The video and audio quality is average, but not spectacular. Still, it is worth adding to your collection.