DODGEBALL: UNRATED A TRUE UNDERDOG STORY Studio: 20th Century Fox Film Year: 2004 U.S. Rating: NR Canadian Rating: NR Film Length: 92 minutes Genre: Comedy Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 widescreen enhanced Colour/B&W: Colour Audio:[*] English Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround[*] Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround[*] French Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround Subtitles: English & Spanish Closed Captioned: Yes SLP: US $29.98 SLP: CDN $37.98 Release Date: July 12, 2005. Film Rating: / Starring: Vince Vaughn (Peter La Fleur), Christine Taylor (Kate Veatch), Ben Stiller 9White Goodman), Rip Torn (Patches O’Houlihan), Justin Long (Justin), Stephen Root (Gordon), Joel Moore (Owen), Chris Williams (Dwight), Alan Tudyk (Steve the Pirate) Written & Directed by: Rawson Marshall Thurber Grab life by the ball. Alright! Another unrated DVD! The unrated version of Dodgeball has ruder and cruder uncensored scenes that weren’t shown in the theatres – so says the package. Yeah! I bet you are pumped now! So how good is the studio’s throw of this ball to consumers?? Read on…. Simply put, this movie is about two rival gyms. GloboGym is a fad gym; it’s big, it has money, new equipment and a large membership. It’s a place where flab is bad and “we’re better than you!” is their slogan. It’s run by White Goodman (Ben Stiller); he’s high on himself, an egomaniac and he thinks he can get anything he wants. Opposite to them is Average Joe’s gym. The facilities are old, membership is low, and its run by a financially delinquent Peter La Fleur (Vince Vaughn) who’s probably spent much of his time with a drink in his hand. I don’t think any better two people could have been cast for these roles – I’m serious. You’ll find out why… Peter’s gym is going to be closed down if he doesn’t pay the bank $50 000. After he feels there is no way he’s going to get that kind of money, his loser buddies at the gym believe they can get the money by winning a dodge ball tournament in Los Vegas. The prize?? $50 000! If Peter wins the money, he no longer has to worry about his gym going under or White Goodman buying it out. Goodman picks up on La Fleur’s plan and also enters the dodge ball championships. With a little training from ADAA champ Patches O’Houlihan, the Average Joes just may beat the physically superior Purple Cobras and win back their average gym. I missed this film the first time it came out on DVD. I’m happy that I got to watch this movie this time around because I feel that I’ve appreciated it a little more now than I would have if I saw it last year. I’ve been on a fitness high for 7 weeks now because I’ve actually begun a strategy at the gym. Instead of aimlessly working out, I've accomplished more in 7 weeks than I ever have in my whole 4 years at the gym. I’ve even just begun my thesis (for M.S. edu) research on the impact of a combined nutrition and physical education curriculum at the primary level. I’m all over this stuff right now, so I think it’s refreshing to see a little bit of slapstick about it and to get out of the seriousness. Sadly, even though the movies are about the gyms, there are little jokes about gyms and working out. It’s all about getting hit in the head and the nuts with dodge balls. The movie is O.K.; it has its moments but its humour we’ve seen before. The sets are lightly dressed and it looks a little low-budget. This is Thurber’s first directing job and I think he did a good job at conveying what he wrote. Honestly, I do not understand this whole “unrated” thing anymore. At one time, unrated films were sought out because you could see some really good T&A in a movie that was cut out to appease censors. Today, the “unrated” label is really loosing its meaning fast, if not already. Too many discs are using “unrated” and really I don’t see anything that would have been cut to begin with. I haven’t seen the theatrical cut, so this version may be a few seconds longer since they seem to have the same 92 minute running time. Oddly enough, three lines in the film (using F words) were cut to receive a PG-13 rating in the original. Surprisingly they still haven’t changed in this version. It’s the special features where all of the nasty words and things are happening… VIDEO QUALITY / The 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen image is pleasing. It’s not soft but isn’t extremely sharp either but still has a good sense of 3-D. Contrast is good and colour really stands out - especially during the tournament scenes near the end of the film. Compression artefacts aren’t an issue and either is edge enhancement. AUDIO QUALITY / This is just an average soundtrack in terms of engagement. The film is dialogue driven from the center channel but in the 5.1 setup music is all that is used to surround us through most of the film. The tournament scenes have the most bang with surround usage and LFE. SPECIAL FEATURES / You’ll find a new “joke” audio commentary by actors Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn as well as writer/director Rawson Marshall Thurber. Let me get right to the point: this doesn't seem like a convincing “joke” commentary despite what the press releases say - but it is! Although I have mixed feelings about this. I originally wrote some harsher comments about it as a knee-jerk reaction because I felt this was the most disturbing audio commentary I’ve ever heard. I really didn't think it was a joke! My judgement was based on pure instinct feeling tension between people...I was wrong this time! For your enjoyment, let me tell you what I heard: In this joke we hear poor attitudes from Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn and Rawson Marshall Thurber come out on this track. I never caught on at first, and I honestly could barely sit through this; it was very uncomfortable to listen to because it seems there is clearly hatred between the three of them. This track was 100% unprofessional as all three of them belittle each other and break every commentary rule. It was truly odd to listen to as 45 minutes of our time pass by as we hear the three of them shit on each other. Thurber tried to be professional from the get go but Vaughn was not cooperating from the beginning. He’s crunching on chips loudly, belching as loud as he can, interrupting the director about everything about “Vaughn” as if he was the star of the show (I imagine it was because that’s the impression Vaughn had of Thurber). He was clearly giving the director a hard time purposely. Stiller was late for the commentary on purpose. At the request of the commentary house, Thurber and Vaughn started the commentary without Stiller at 1pm in some room where the studio has hired someone to record commentaries. Thurber didn’t have much good to say about Stiller as far as his work ethics and he also can’t understand why his wife is with him. Vaughn somewhat agrees with him, but would rather talk about the hot piece of ass on screen. Basically Vince Vaughn acts as if everything is “all about him.” He acts like a jerk to the highest degree – and appears drunk while he's at it. Yes, it seems as if he’s drinking on the commentary, and was probably drunk when he walked in. We hear through this commentary that he’s trashed the place because there is food everywhere. The poor guys who work there intervene over their microphones and Vaughn threatens them many times calling them p*ssies and that he’s going to punch them out. In all, I must say, Vince Vaughn comes accross as a complete asshole. Stiller walks in 11 minutes into the commentary. He just complains about parking and he makes it clear he was forced to be here and he has more important things to do. Basically, for the next 15 minutes, Stiller, Vaughn and Thurber are taking such nasty shots at each other with deep insults. Vaughn keeps drinking more and Stiller throws a jab at him for turning a 40-some odd day shoot into a 56 day shoot because Vaughn has had “too many cold ones.” After Thurber receives the bulk of insults from both actors, Thurber storms out of the commentary at the 25 minute mark and doesn't return (except for his keys that he accidentally left behind). The rest of the “commentary” has Vince Vaughn threatening and insulting the two guys who work recording the commentary and Ben Stiller putting the movie and the director down. He leaves at 45 minutes in the movie as (you can tell he’s signalling to his assistant to) make a lame-ass excuse that his vehicle is going to get towed so he can get out of there. The commentary pretty much ends there…Vaughn seems depressed and alone…drunk. The poor kid who works there thinks he’s gonna get fired because everyone left the commentary and Vaughn trashed the place. At this point in the film, a new commentary was recorded at a different date featuring the co-directors and writers of the movie...or are they? heh heh... I’m surprised that I’ve actually heard and sat through all of this. I'm not sure how to take it. This joke sounds way too serious - I was fooled! There isn't one instance at all where these guys hint they are joking - and that leaves it truly convincing. I was suspended in disbelief. While it appears Vaughn and Stiller may have tried to screw over Thurber over by not cooperating in the commentary, in the end, they did not provid anything but indecency towards each other or anything informative to fans about the movie. So if you are looking for something useful to hear, you won't find it here. But I have to laugh now...when I think back to the commentary, the joke is on us... ..very brave FOX...I'm left stunned... These are some pretty talented guys...I'm sure many people will be doing a double-take on this one! Ok, now that I’ve said all I needed to say about that commentary, I’ll get back to what other features is included on this DVD. I actually watched all of these before the commentary and based on what I’ve seen here, I would have never guessed about the shock I was going to be in for. There are nine deleted scenes that are viewable outside of the film; so no seamless branching here. These scenes are available in the special features area and are in their correct aspect ratio. They are a little unpolished and not enhanced for widescreen televisions. Some of these scenes are extensions of ones in the film. While they are funny, they are mainly cut to keep the pace of the film from slowing down. Also here is the original ending, probably a reflection by the director of giving up at the end of the film shoot because of the abruptness of the ending and it’s less than happy ending. There is a featurette menu with these features in the submenu: [*] Dodgeball Boot Camp: Training for Dodgeball - This is about the nature of the dodge ball game and how gruelling it can be. [*] The Anatomy of a Hit - show the actors getting hit by balls in the face and balls. It’s basically showing what’s perceived as funny and what isn’t. [*] Justin Long: A Study in Ham & Cheese - some joke shots of Justin Long. [*] Dodgeball: Go for the Gold - about how it should be an Olympic sport. There are also three selections available to see the Dodgeball Dancers uncensored…if you can call it that. These show three sexy dances that were cut from the film. Finally, in the main special features menu, we get a few minutes of bloopers and gag reel, trailers, and a DVD-ROM Screenplay, as well as a little section on how to find Easter Eggs, that is, if you are able to find that! IN THE END… I found it a funny movie - really I did. It’s far from perfect but it’s entertaining because it’s somewhat slapstick humour and I don’t mind that. It’s too bad Thurber, Vaughn and Stiller aired their dirty laundry on the commentary track rather than providing something insightful. Thanks for providing such a real commentary guys. You guys suck Michael Osadciw June 19, 2005.