Chances are very good that by now you have probably sat down to watch one incarnation or another of Dodgeball on DVD. The movie saw its original release back in 2004 and an unrated double dip in July of 2005. Sitting down to watch the unrated version marks my fourth time seeing the film and for the life of me, I can't really tell what makes it so special. The difference between this version and the PG-13 edition are so insignificant that they tack roughly 30 to 40 seconds on to the play time and are virtually indistinguishable unless you did a side by side comparison.
It's a good thing that the additions to the unrated version are as subtle as they are because I love this film even in its original form. I've never been big on sports related movies but there's just something about Dodgeball that draws me in and makes me laugh at every joke. I felt that every actor was cast perfectly for their roles, and heck, I even liked Ben Stiller in the film (something I normally can't say). For me at least, Dodgeball hits every note that a comedy should. It has a perfect amount of wit and sarcasm plus has a fine balance between outrageous and down to earth characters.
Unlike most comedies, this one actually tries to tell a story in between all of the gags, which is something sorely missed these days. The movie follows the life of a down on his luck guy named Peter La Fleur (Vince Vaughn), who is also the proprietor of Average Joe's Gym. To say things are rough for Peter would be an understatement. His clients don't pay any membership fees, bill collectors are practically beating down his door and across the street is the evil empire of fitness known as Globo Gym.
The owner of Globo Gym, White Goodman (Ben Stiller) is trying to force Average Joe's out of business and is a constant antagonist of Peter's. It finally comes down to crunch time for Peter and he has to pay up $50,000 or else he will lose his business. After a failed attempt at a carwash he and his crew sit around feeling dejected and come up with the crazy idea to play in a dodgeball tournament. White catches wind of their plan and enters the tourney with his own team in order to crush Average Joe's once and for all.
To say that this movie is goofy and never takes itself too seriously would be an understatement, but that it in fact probably its greatest strength. There are so many off the wall characters here like Steve the Pirate (Alan Tudyk), Patches O'Houlihan (Rip Torn) and the passive aggressive Gordon (Stephen Root). Each of the cast captures their character and lines flawlessly, and the timing with the jokes is spot on. Add to that some exceptional guest appearances by Lance Armstrong, William Shatner, Chuck Norris and Hank Azaria, and you get a movie that is a whole lot of fun.
The real meat and bone of this movie though is the contrast between the characters of Peter and White. They are complete polar opposites of each other and always at odds. Peter is the straight man who is always grounded and easily to relate to. White, however, is maniacal fitness guru with an inflated ego and questionable sexual preferences. The two actors play off of each other very well and even though it can't be taken seriously there is a lot of tension between the two.
I'm going to go out on a limb and say that Dodgeball is one of the better sports comedies to come along in a very long time. It stands as one of my personal favorites and no matter how many times I sit down to watch it, the jokes still get to me. If you haven't seen it yet you definitely owe it to yourself to, though there is little difference between this unrated edition and the PG-13 release.
Dodgeball Unrated is presented with a 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer and offers similar quality to the PG-13 version. The image is very clean and sharp with no hints of grain or pixilation at any time. The colors never become saturated and remain vibrant throughout the feature. The only real flaw I have noticed with the video quality is some very prominent edge enhancement during a few scenes, though that is a minor complaint. Overall the image holds up nicely and the DVD is pretty sharp looking.
With this film being a comedy, you shouldn't be expecting a booming soundtrack that will test your home theater set up. The English Dolby Digital 5.1 sports a fine sounding presentation if not a little subdued. The rear speakers get little play until the later moments of the film where the game of dodgeball is underway with the crowd cheering. The whole point for a comedy is to be based off of dialogue, which sounds very clear but it comes from mostly the front channels.
If you already have the original release of the film from 2004, then there really is no need for you to pick up 2005's unrated edition. Much of the bonus material provided here is essentially the same as the PG-13 version, though there are a few slight modifications this time around.
On the first release there was an audio commentary for the film that featured Vaughn, Stiller and writer/director, Rawson Marshall Thurber. The trio kind of got back into the studio to do another one for this version. I say "kind of" because the commentary starts with them drinking beer and eating potato chips while arguing with each other. It eventually degrades into them walking away and letting a commentary track for There's Something About Mary take over.
There have also been a few more deleted scenes added to the pile for good measure to round out the disc. Overall there are plenty of repeat special features and even the menus are essentially the same. The deleted scenes are fine in their own right and the commentary is funny, if not a little odd.
Dodgeball is one of those comedy movies that gets to me every time I sit down to watch it. Everything here clicks perfectly from the characters to the story and it is easily one of the most enjoyable sports comedies of the past decade. If you don't own the movie yet and were going to buy it, I would suggest the unrated version. But, if you already have it and were wondering about biting into a double dip, I would advise against it since there isn't enough unique to this release. Highly Recommended
Check out more of my reviews here. Head on over to my anime blog as well for random musings and reviews of anime, manga, and stuff from Japan!