Wasn’t there a Ben Stiller movie out last month? Sporting inflatable codpiece and Dirty Mind–era Prince ‘do, the ubiquitous jester is at his most unbuttoned as White Goodman, head of a health club that he runs like Big Brother. He plans to buy out Average Joe’s, a neighboring gym so low-key that owner Peter La Fleur (Vince Vaughn) doesn’t bother collecting dues. The early jokes are, as they say, hit or miss. But once one of La Fleur’s patrons, a reader of Obscure Sports Quarterly, discovers that the world dodgeball tournament has a prize purse exactly the amount needed to keep Average Joe’s open, the absurdity is focused and relentless.
Among the teams are the Lumberjacks, the dance-happy Skillz That Killz, and Team Blitzkrieg, devoted to and apparently coached by David Hasselhoff. White’s Globo Gym team is also present, ready to put the kibosh on La Fleur and co.’s dreams. The play-by-play, courtesy of an old smoothie and a space cadet (Gary Cole and Jason Bateman), is wonderfully limber and insipid; of the inevitable Average-Globo matchup, the former intones, “And the stage is set for Darwin’s cruelest play to begin.” With dozens of blam-to-the-nuts shots, Dodgeball is the most satisfying comedy of the past year—at least among the ones starring Stiller.