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Dodgeball

Year: 2004
Director: Rawson Marshall Thurber
Writer: Rawson Marshall Thurber
Cast: Vince Vaughan, Ben Stiller, Christine Taylor, Rip Torn, Alan Tudyk, Gary Cole, Jason Bateman, Hank Azaria
Hailed as one of the greatest comedies to come out of 2004 - if it was, it must have been a slow year for comedy. Ben Stiller's star continues to rise through the ranks of Hollycomedy and pal Vince Vaughan rides his coattails with him as rival owners of two city gymnasiums. Stiller is the buff, self-loving and self-important owner of the gleaming, silicone-implanted Globo gym, while Vaughan owns the honest and friendly dump across the street, Average Joes.

When Globo threatens to swallow Average Joes up in a bank default deal, the misfit regulars decide to try to raise the money by entering a dodgeball championship in Las Vegas, their plans soon under attack as Globo does the same, setting up the ultimate showdown.

The pace of the narrative is out of sorts - we get to the tournament what feels like too quickly (although that might just be unconscious discomfort in watching something that doesn't have a traditional Hollywood three act structure), and Vaughan is a strangely emotionless actor - you can never tell when he's angry, happy or upset.

Stiller has a great time with the hair, the voice, and the poise, and some flourishes of blatant gag comedy stand out with big laughs because the film isn't afraid to take the piss out of itself (the 'American Dodgeball Association of America', the priceless tournament commentary by Gary Cole and an unrecognisable Jason Bateman).

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