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Remember your childhood fears – perhaps born on your local playgrounds– of a red rubber ball hurtling towards your head? Or the sweet taste of revenge when you threw it right back at the class bully? Well, get ready to once again dodge, duck, dip and dive…dodgeball is back, and this time it's not just for the schoolyard.

Dodgeball is becoming a cultural phenomenon. Adult dodgeball leagues are springing up in major cities, Vanity Fair called the game the "It Sport," and The New York Times and Fortune recently heralded the sport's re-emergence.

So the time is ripe for a poignant motion picture that brings dignity and respect to the world of competitive dodgeball. A tale in the tradition of great films about legendary sports heroes. An emotionally stirring look at the thrills of victory and the heartbreaks of defeat.

We'll let you know when that movie is made.

In the meantime, we have Dogeball: A True Underdog Story, a film that grabs life by the ball. The story's protagonist, Peter LaFleur (Vince Vaughn ), is a charismatic underachiever and proprietor of a rundown gym called Average Joe's. The facility's clientele of decidedly less-than-"average Joes" is made up of a self-styled pirate, a scrawny nerd who dreams of impressing an unattainable cheerleader, an obsessive aficionado of obscure sports, a dim-witted young man, and a cocky know-it-all who, of course, really knows nothing.

Peter's humble gym catches the eye of White Goodman (Ben Stiller), the power-mullet-sporting, Fu-Manchu-d, egomaniacal owner of Globo Gym, a gleaming monolith of fitness. White intends to take over Average Joe's, and Peter's non-existent bookkeeping is making it all too easy for him. A foreclosing bank has stationed attorney Kate Veatch (Christine Taylor) inside Average Joe's to finalize Globo's takeover of the gym. But Peter's boyish charms win her over and Kate joins his team of social rejects to beat the odds – and their own ineptitude – to try to save Average Joe's. How? A showdown dodgeball competition against Globo Gym.

"Finally," says Dogeball: A True Underdog Story producer/star Ben Stiller, with tongue planted at least a little in cheek, "there is a real dodgeball film that doesn't pull any punches and really shows the pain and humiliation associated with having a ball slam you in the face, in front of lots of people." Stiller's on-screen nemesis, Vince Vaughn, sees amidst the film's raucous comedy, a universal tale of honor. "It's about people who don't fit in a traditional way, who come together and find self-respect and something – their gym – worth defending. Dodgeball becomes a vehicle for them to learn some life lessons and stand up for themselves."

Honor? Life lessons? Perhaps. But one thing is certain: Dogeball: A True Underdog Story blazes new trails in motion picture history. Which is to say, it is the first major studio feature film on the subject. "A dodgeball movie is uncharted film territory," says Rawson Marshall Thurber, the film's writer/director, "but at the same time it inhabits the same tradition of great underdog movies like ‘Stripes,' ‘The Bad News Bears' and ‘Meatballs,' which follow an archetypal comedy framework: scrappy underdogs take on the socially, financially or athletically gifted and prevail against all odds."

Film Info

(2013)
2 min 29 sec Duration
143,531 views
  • Posted: July 07, 2009
  • Director: Rawson Thurber
  • Writer: Rawson Thurber
  • Studio: 20th Century Fox
  • Release: June 18, 2004
  • Cast: Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Christine Taylor

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