How's this for impressive trivia: Dodgeball
faced off against The Terminal
in opening-weekend competition, and 29-year-old writer-director Rawson Marshall Thurber aced Steven Spielberg by a score of $30 to $18.7 in box-office millions. That's no mean feat for a newcomer, but Thurber's lowbrow script and rapid-fire direction--along with a sublime cast of screen comedians--proved to be just what moviegoers were ravenous for: a consistently hilarious, patently formulaic romp in which the underdog owner of Average Joe's Gym (Vince Vaughan) faces foreclosure unless he can raise $50,000 in 30 days. The solution: A dodgeball tournament offering $50K to the winners, in which Vaughan and his nerdy clientele team up against the preening, abhorrently narcissistic owner (Ben Stiller) of Globo Gym, who's threatening a buy-out. That's it for story; any 5-year-old could follow it with brainpower to spare. But Thurber, Vaughan, Stiller, and their well-cast costars (including Stiller's off-screen wife, Christine Taylor) keep the big laughs coming for 96 nonsensical minutes. With spot-on cameos by champion bicyclist Lance Armstrong, David Hasselhoff, Hank Azaria, Chuck Norris, and William Shatner, and a crudely amusing coda for those who watch past the credits, Dodgeball
is no masterpiece, but you can bet Spielberg was unexpectedly humbled by its popular appeal. --Jeff Shannon
You'Ll Dodge, Duck, Dip, Dive. . . And Laugh Out Loud Watching Vince Vaughn And Ben Stiller Settle Their Differences In A Winner-Take-All Dodgeball Competition. Under The Painful Tutelage Of Legendary Adaa Champ, Patches O'Houlihan (Rip Torn), Peter Lafleur (Vaughn) And His Average Joes Take On The Purple Cobras, Led By Egomaniacal Fitness Guru, White Goodman (Stiller). It'S An Over-The-Top Underdog Tale Filled With Hilarious Sight Gags And Balls-Out Fun!