DodgeBall: A True Underdog Story, directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber, is about underdogs, but the story is fictional and intended to be full of laughs. Humble Pete LaFleur (played by Vince Vaughan) runs a laid-back gym for losers called Average Joes. Across the street is a high-tech $5 million GloboGym, run by conceited White Goodman (played by a very buff Ben Stiller), who has listed the enterprise on the stock exchange. LaFleur’s gym has been $50,000 behind in payments for some time and has thirty days before foreclosure. Goodman has decided to buy him out so that he can build a parking structure for his narcissistic customers. The bank has assigned attractive Kate Veatch (played by Christine Taylor) to handle the paperwork. When she meets Goodman, she is turned off; she finds her meeting with LaFleur to be very pleasant. LaFleur has no option and admits his dilemma to some of his regular customers. One corpulent customer, however, discovers that there is a $50,000 prize for the winner of the national dodgeball championships, and the motley crew of barbell pushers is galvanized to compete. While watching a video about dodgeball borrowed from one of his customer’s high school, they learn some of the points of the game from champ Patches O’Houlihan (played by Rip Torn). After winning their first match by default, O’Houlihan suddenly appears and offers to coach them, so for the next minutes of the film they learn how to play the game to win. Planting a bug in Average Joe’s gym, Goodman learns about their intentions and decides to enter the dodgeball tournament as well. Next, the rival teams defeat their opponents and confront each other in the finals. A happy ending for the comedy, with cameos by Chuck Norris and William Shatner, is expected despite 50-1 odds and Goodman’s offer to buy LaFleur’s gym for $100,000, and an admission by Kate that she is a bisexual, perhaps the first such declaration in cinematic history. However, amid the clever lines, DodgeBall has moments of extreme insensitivity–not only the homophobic and sleazy remarks about body parts but the phony and gratuitous claim that the game originated in China in the fifth century with beheaded skulls as the balls to be dodged. Why an otherwise delightful comedy stoops to such crass heterosexism and racism is a clear case of bad judgment. MH

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