23 August 2004 | bob the moo
Very silly but fun despite the odd patch of misses
Peter La Fleur runs a second rate gym that is populated by non-paying members who are, shall we say, on the edge of society. Peter's relaxed existence is made difficult by the fact that a large gym across the road aims to shut him down. When the Average Joe gym receives its final warning from the bank, they face a 30-day deadline to come up with $50,000 or lose the gym to competitor White Goodman. After their initial ideas fail, they discover that the national dodgeball contest has a prize of that very amount with a little help from an ex-champion, they set out to make it to the finals and save the day.
This film came to the UK on a wave of hype and praise but I was a little wary because I knew that the style of humour that it has can be very hit and miss. The film has the same plot that all these sorts of sports movies have and you pretty much know where it is going from the very start but, to be honest, how many people have come here for the engaging story? No me neither! The humour is very silly and it will not appeal to everyone but I found it pretty funny with the out-of-the-blue stuff being the funniest; if you find it funny to hear the line 'thank you Chuck Norris' said with sincerity then this will be the film for you. It isn't as consistent as I would have liked because it does have a couple of patches where there are more misses than hits but generally I had a good hatful of laughs and, when not laughing I still had a smile on my face.
Of course, like I said, this isn't for everybody and I'm sure many will see it as a juvenile and it does seem to have been aimed at the young male side of the market. The downside of this is that the majority of the laughs are pretty basic and, as we are seeing too often recently, the old audience draw of girls kissing is wheeled out yet again. The casting also helps to a certain degree and do help a bit to cover the basic humour. Vaughn is cool and relaxed and, although you wouldn't call it 'acting' he is a likable lead. Stiller has a few dry moments but generally his 70's fitness freak steals every scene he is in. Taylor is pretty but you can't help feeling that the film is only using her when, for no reason other than titillation she is revealed as bisexual (with a girlfriend). Torn is funny if basic and Azaria is also funny. The support cast is more about off the wall characters than good writing or performances, but Long, Root, Moore, Tudyk and others are all OK. Cameos from Hasselhoff, Norris, Shatner and Lance Armstrong are all briefly amusing and, just like Best in Show, commentators Gary Cole and Jason Bateman do spot on spoofs of low-grade sports commentators and have lots of great lines between them.
Overall this is not the funniest film EVER, as some critics have absurdly claimed it simply isn't consistent enough for that accolade but it is still a pretty funny film if you are in the mood for silly humour and some pretty basic jokes. The use of easy draws such as female flesh, lesbianism and physical jokes is a bit of a downer when you think about it but I doubt many will complain when it is on. The cast generally do well and the material is funny and energetic enough to do the job, producing a silly film that is hardly memorable but will be fun while you're watching it.