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#6 of 10 from Movies I Could Watch Over and Over Again by
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How's this for impressive trivia:Dodgeballfaced off againstThe Terminalin opening-weekend competition, and 29-year-old writer-director Rawson Marshall Thurber aced Steven Spielberg by a score of $30 to $18.7 in box-office millions. That's no mean feat for a newcomer, but Thurber's lowbrow script and rapid-fire direction--along with a sublime cast of screen comedians--proved to be just what moviegoers were ravenous for: a consistently hilarious, patently formulaic romp in which the underdog owner of Average Joe's Gym (Vince Vaughan) faces foreclosure unless he can raise $50,000 in 30 days. The solution: A dodgeball tournament offering $50K to the winners, in which Vaughan and his nerdy clientele team up against the preening, abhorrently narcissistic owner (Ben Stiller) of Globo Gym, who's threatening a buy-out. That's it for story; any 5-year-old could follow it with brainpower to spare. But Thurber, Vaughan, Stiller, and their well-cast costars (including Stiller's off-screen wife, Christine Taylor) keep the big laughs coming for 96 nonsensical minutes. With spot-on cameos by champion bicyclist Lance Armstrong, David Hasselhoff, Hank Azaria, Chuck Norris, and William Shatner, and a crudely amusing coda for those who watch past the credits,Dodgeballis no masterpiece, but you can bet Spielberg was unexpectedly humbled by its popular appeal.--Jeff Shannon
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