Dodgeball may go down was one of the most unlikely of comedies that pulled against all odds to perform at the box office. I say “against all odds” because a movie about warring dodge ball teams and a film starring Ben Still doesn’t exactly scream “box office success”, yet the film made quite the name for itself. Critics seemed to enjoy it and it nearly made seven times it budget in domestic ticket sales and Fox continues to release the film in different home video variants while cable movie stations air it repeatedly. Surprising for a film created on a modest budget, but Dodgeball has endured.
You’ll dodge, duck, dip, dive…and laugh out loud watching Vince Vaughn and Ben Stiller settle their differences in a winner-take-all dodgeball competition. Co-starring Rip Torn as legendary ADAA champ Patches O’Hulihan, Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story is filled with hilarious sight gags and balls-out fun! Also starring Christine Taylor, Justin Long, Stephen Root, Joel Moore, Chris Williams and Alan Tudyk.
You’d be hard pressed to find someone who hasn’t seen this film, or at the very least, snippets of it while flipping through the channels. It’s really one of the more successful comedies in the past decade, and for good reason. It’s a simple, easy and ridiculously fun movie to watch and even if you find one of the leading men to be an annoyance (I know people who don’t like Vaughn or Stiller, yet still love this movie), it’s hard to deny that their combination isn’t something that will send you into fits of laughter.
An element I found especially great about this film the first time I watched it was the varied cast. While you have the stars taking up the screen most of the time, the supporting cast is just as engaging. Justin Long makes a great effort in the supporting actor role and everyone from Steve the Pirate (played by Tudyk) really makes for a truly memorable cast. On top of that it’s all well acted and there isn’t a single joke that doesn’t land. Plus on top of all of that you have Justin Bateman, who is always a riot no matter what he’s in and William Shatner in a rather strange role in that he doesn’t really stand out. You laugh that it’s Shatner, but then you realize he has no real shtick in the film and he just plays a normal guy. Kind of strange, really.
The differences between our leads makes for some great clashing down the road and the stark contrast between them makes for some entertaining laughs during the course of the film. On top of that the unrated edition of the film adds on even more laughs, although they aren’t quite as noticeable and will not ruing the film for anyone who originally saw the rated version and loved it. They aren’t major additions, but they’re entertaining, which his all that matters.
What else is there to say about this film? Honestly…I’m struggling here. It’s a riot to watch, but you’ll be hard pressed to find much to discuss about the films plot. Plenty of quotable lines to be sure, but this isn’t something you watch for the story, although it’s fairly well constructed, even if the ending is a bit obvious. Still, by now the film is four years old and should be something you’ve seen if you’re a fan of laughing. Recommended.
Fox has released Dodgeball in a single disc Elite Blu-ray case with inserts advertising their releases on the format as well as a notice to keep your firmware up-to-date. Disc art mimics the cover art and menus are simple and easy to navigate, although I do have a complaint about them, which stretches across most Fox releases. The special features are stuck inside this little scroll box area that takes up about 20% of the screen, while the rest of the screen real estate is spent on…well, not much. Seems like a complete waste of a 1080p image, but oh well. As a side note, the disc (as well as most recent Fox releases) won’t play on my PC, as it states that my firmware needs to be updated. Since PC’s use software to decode it, I’m not sure what the issue as I’ve updated both PowerDVD and WinDVD and neither will play the discs, due to the BD+ encryption variant. Very strange.
Video for this release arrives with an MPEG-2 encoded 2.35:1 video transfer that clocks in at around 34mbps. An insanely high bitrate to be sure, but it also uses the MPEG-2 codec, which is a bit of an oddity. Still, it’s a nice transfer that has plenty of detail, so it’s not an eyesore. Grain is kept in tack and overall it’s up to Blu-ray snuff, but you kind of have to ask yourself: does it really matter if you watch Dodgeball in pure 1080p? Some things just don’t require the format, though I suppose it’s nice that Fox is giving fans the chance. The included DTS HD Master Audio 5.1 track is of a similar variety, with a pretty solid front end and some nice surround work during the training/dodgeball sequences. Overall it’s a fine representation of the film, but not one that’s really required I don’t think. Also included are Spanish and French DD5.1 tracks as well as English, Spanish, Mandarin and Cantonese subtitles.
Extras for this release are a complete port over from the previous DVD releases, so don’t expect anything new. First up is an entertaining Commentary by Writer/Director Rawson Marshall Thurber and Actors Ben Stiller and Vince Vaughn, an array of Deleted Scenes (12:02) with optional commentary and a whole array of short featurettes that paint a portrait of what it was like to make this film. First we have Dodgeball Boot Camp (3:27), The Anatomy of a Hit (3:25), Justin Long: A Study in Ham & Cheese, Dodgeball: Go for the Gold (1:20), Bloopers/Gag Reel (3:02), More with Dodgeball Dancers (2:29) and finally the Easter Egg (0:29) from the previous releases makes its return. These are all pretty generic pieces and all of them are short and in standard definition.
If it isn’t obvious from my previous remarks, this isn’t exactly a film that is dying to be seen in high-definition. A solid release if you don’t already own the film, but at currently twice the price of the standard definition DVD (on Amazon as of this writing), it’s a hard pill to swallow. Perhaps pick it up when the price drops, but with no new goodies to look at, this isn’t one film that truly needs to be seen on Blu-ray. Recommended for those who don’t already own the film, otherwise you can Skip It.
Dodgeball is now available on Blu-ray.