Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story review

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Imagine a gleaming gym that trades on the motto: `We're better than you... And we know it'. Imagine its proprietor being a sad little man, muscles bulging like basketballs, with a mullet and a big 'tache. Now imagine this comical, cartoonish creation being brought to life by the movies' funniest funnyman, Ben Stiller. Laugh? You'll pee your pants.

Playing White Goodman as two parts Zoolander and one part Mr Furious, Stiller's bug-eyed stupidity pads outs the will-o'-the-wisp concept as surely as Goodman pads out his leotard crotch. He's here to sculpt clients from "Frankenstein to Franken-fine"; to remind them that "ugliness and fatness are genetic disorders... Much like baldness and necrophilia." As crass caricatures go, it's a real rib-prodder. But it's not, thankfully, Dodgeball's only ace.

For starters there's Vince Vaughn, Starsky & Hutch's unsung villain again proving he has a knack for this comedy lark by bringing a ragged charm to the proceedings. Good job too, for it's his mangy underdog who gets most of the screentime.

He doesn't, however, get the top lines. That honour goes to Rip Torn's acerbic coach Patches O'Houlihan, a grizzled paraplegic who tags La Fleur's team ""as useful as a cock-flavoured lollipop"" before whipping them into some kind of shape. Next stop Las Vegas and the World Dodgeball Championship...

So what exactly is `dodgeball'? The craziest game to bruise our screens since BASEketball, that's what, with opposing players flinging balls at each others' faces - - and crotches - - across an open court. It's fast, it's furious, it's fabulously painful - - and you just know it's going to catch on in Blighty's playgrounds. Or not. Either way it makes for great physical comedy, La Fleur's misfits taking on amusingly un-PC teams (Germans, inner-city kids) in their quest to land the $50,000 prize money.

Dodgeball isn't subtle and it sure ain't flawless: the tournament commentators are no match for those Best In Show guys and Alan Tudyk's pirate-obsessed nutzoid belongs in Davy Jones' locker. But it is bloody funny. On a consistent basis. Which, when you think of it, isn't a bad start for a comedy...

America's obsession with winning takes a pounding in a comedy with muscles to spare. Another comic gem from the Ben Stiller stable.

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