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 US 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
Screwball comedy starring Ben Stiller and Vince Vaughn as rival gym owners who compete against each other in a Las Vegas dodgeball tournament. Sweet, underachieving Peter LaFleur (Vaughn) is the proprietor of Average Joe's, a run-down gym with an oddball clientele. Despite its shabby exterior, the gym catches the eye of competitor White Goodman (Stiller), the power-hungry and aspirational owner of the gleaming, ultra-modern Globo Gym. Staging a takeover of Average Joe's looks to Goodman like a doddle - until the attorney from the foreclosing bank, Kate Veitch (Christine Taylor) is unexpectedly won over by Peter's boyish charms and decides to do all she can to save his gym from Goodman's clutches.
Vince Vaughn Dodgeball - A True Underdog Story