Stiller on target in DodgeBall | VailDaily.com
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Stiller on target in DodgeBall

Nickey Hernandez

AAs a child on the cactus-strewn, mean streets of Tucson, Ariz. I had an instinctive passion for the daring art of dodgeball.Before steroids, an all-yak-diet, and a six-hour-per-day weightlifting regimen turned me into an Adonis, I was a pathetic geek scrambling to survive the killing fields of my elementary school playground.I was too homophobic for wrestling, too short for hoops, and too hairy for field hockey.But dodgeball fit perfectly with my paranoid and furtive nature. I was quick as a large rodent; skilled at avoiding the hurling rubber ball, and gifted at nailing opponents in the back of the head, braces or groin.Little surprise then that I loved “DodgeBall: A True Underdog Story.” This mad-capped-mock of gym losers and lame-ass sporting events is on par with “Meatballs,” “Kingpin” and “Revenge of the Nerds.”This is a below-the-belt spoof on preening gym dorks, pencil-neck punks and the kind of low-rent athletic competition reserved for ESPN 8.But more than that, “DodgeBall” is funny.Credit Ben Stiller. He carries the film on his back. His portrayal of White Goodman, the beefed up, narcissistic owner of Globo Gym, is a character that will live for all time.Adorned with a gay-looking John Oats moustache, a shinny silver unitard, and an inflatable crotch sack, Goodman is a hilarious metaphor for every muscle-bound fool that gets aroused by pumping himself up.Goodman is a megalomaniac who used diet, cosmetic surgery and weight training to transform himself from a 600-pound beast into a lean, mean lifting machine.He went from “Frankenstein to Franken-fine.” Naturally, he wants everyone to follow the Globo Gym path.His massive gym is filled with hard body hunks and surgically enhanced beauties. It’s like the Playboy Mansion with StairMasters.”We’re better than you and we know it,” Goodman boasts on television ads that pimps his way of life.Goodman’s nemesis is Average Joe’s Gym, a sweat-stained, hole-in-the-wall for the worthless and weak.”Failure is an option,” is the gym’s motto.Good natured and lazy Peter La Fleur (Vince Vaughn) stands in the way of Globo Gym, which wants to bulldoze the dump.La Fleur’s future seems doomed when Goodman buys the deed to the gym. Unless Average Joe’s finds $50,000 in 30 days, Goodman will destroy the joint. The only way out is to win an international dodgeball tournament in Las Vegas and collect $50,000 in prize money.Goodman assembles the finest players on the planet, including a scary looking Chernobyl survivor known as the best baller behind the Iron Curtain.La Fleur, meanwhile, musters a wimpy high school dork, a fat nerd, a dude with a pirate fetish and a hot bi-sexual softball player.Clearly these guys have no chance. But with the help of Patches O’Houlihan, the greatest dodgeball player of all time, the losers learn to “dodge, duck, dip and dive.”O’Houlihan (Rip Torn) is a stern coach, who tosses wrenches at the crew.”If you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball,” he instructs.Naturally, the long shots make it to the finals and face Goodman and his heavily favored Purple Cobras.I think you can guess what happens. Still, the road to an obvious happy ending is littered with great gags.Until next time, Mr. Hernandez has left the theater to pump up his crotch. VT


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