Monday, February 07, 2005


hmm. the first comedy to feature on filmism? i think so.

dodgeball is not very good. even though he co-produced the picture, you get the feeling this is a minor aside of a movie for ben stiller, whose best & likely most influential work is done in the guise of the downtrodden hard-luck nice guy ('something about mary', 'meet the parents') around whom the most ridiculous shit happens. the polar opposite of such performances sees stiller as the centre & source of all that is ridiculous - zoolander, dodgeball's 'white goodman' - in which a lot of the comedy comes from realising this is stiller (the usually loveable & lame hero) camping things up to the extreme. or, to put it better, part of the lameness of a 'normal' stiller character seems to live on in his more ludicrous incarnations. no matter how outlandish his 'big' characters are, you can still see 'little stiller' in there somewhere - especially in his voice, which he modulates beautifully to make characters like 'white goodman' seem almost self-conscious or unsure of their own stupidity. in the midst of goodman's most nefarious proclamations you catch a little twang that makes it seem like we are watching greg focker trying to be funny. it's loveable hilarity.

it's also an interestingly crude kind of hilarity. i don't find the self-conscious thematic aspect of the film that interesting at all - insofar as the film tries to subvert/make fun of the underdog comedy genre, it does nothing to avoid it. the film is as 'sister act'/'major league' etc formulaic as you can imagine. it's in the little lashings of impromptu dialogue or action - scattered, as it were, over the generic template - that we might discover whether this film is halfway decent. but there's not enough mustard for mine. think of 'there's something about mary' - there's really not one minor character ("step into my office! why? because you're fucking fired!") or comic set-piece that isn't funny. in 'dodgeball', there's a few. if anything there's too many minor characters in 'dodgeball' - the 'pirate' is hideously under-written; a funny pirate needs to be really funny nowadays, we can all do decent pirate impressions - & there's just one too many underdog idiot to come to terms with.

but getting back to the crudity aspect. i guess 'south park' (&, in a way, 'something about mary') really raised the bar in terms of just how far comedy could go to get a laugh. political correctness is a thing of the past when it comes to comedy - one suspects kenny's 're-birth' sequence in the 'south park' movie was the beginning of the end - & 'dodgeball' is certainly at its funniest when it embraces the 'south park' spirit: the german dodgeball team coached by a hilariously fuhrer-esque david hasselhoff, the japanese 'kamikaze' team wearing 'diapers' on court, the senile coach 'patches o'houlihan' imploring his star player to come back to his room for some 'prostitutes', christine taylor vomiting into her mouth after being hit upon by white goodman etc. one also notes the 'south park' (& 'simpsons)-esque willingness to refer randomly to popular figures - chuck norris's classic cameo, for example, or lance armstrong's brilliant barside lecture (errrm, has lance had acting training? because his delivery was damn good). as i say, though, these comic sprinklings are hit & miss, & the whole seems watered down for the fact the film is about, well, a 'dodgeball' tournament. in 'something about mary' there was a beautiful freedom about the 'plot' - boy chases girl - that allowed for some brilliant visual & dialogic asides. 'dodgeball' races towards its 90-minute climax with all the regularity we expect from an underdog film, & one is stuck as to whether to try & laugh at the bit-pieces or savour the inevitable victory of the 'average joe's'.


Blogger poindexter said...

You know, the dry, somewhat self depricating style of this blog's lethargic film reviewer exhausts me. Jazz it up Foxy, (and I don't think I need to point out the cuddly-schnookums irony of thinly guised academia dressed up as postmodern cyber-indifference....). The Kubrick-mania is confusing (yet touching) and I disliked the review of Casino (though the Pollock review was quite accurate, really.) Scorsese could beat Kubrick in a film-off any day. Something the first-year lecturer was all too aware of....

12:09 PM  
Blogger focy said...

opinion noted Liz.

5:44 PM  
Blogger Linklight said...

##TITLE## is a fun title to find. It just amused me when I came across it on my search
for stiff joints in these blogs. Amazing what you can find and where you end up.

11:31 AM  

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