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Dodgeball: B+; Anchorman: C
Official Movie Website  

Can an idiotic comedy be clever? Rawson Marshall Thurber and his "Dodgeball" team prove it can, while Will Ferrell, Adam McKay and the crew of "Anchorman" fall short of their goal and only make an idiotic comedy mildly amusing. Both follow the "There's Something About Mary" mold of pratfalls and shock-value guffaws, but where "Dodgeball" supplements its crass behavior with witty dialogue, "Anchorman" has little to offer over the expectations of a five minute "Saturday Night Live" script.
Directing his first feature film, Thurber assembles for "Dodgeball" a talented cast, feeding it lines that vary between satirical and inane. Slob Peter La Fleur (Vince Vaughn) owns a dilapidated gymnasium that despite the décor has a family atmosphere amongst his oddball customers. His arch-nemesis, White Goodman (played with pitch-perfect sleaze by Ben Stiller), proprietor of a multi-million dollar gym franchise, wants to tear down the tiny gym to make room for a parking garage.
When one of Peter's regulars (Stephen Root) discovers in a fringe sport magazine that a dodgeball tournament in Las Vegas offers a cash prize, the motley crew forms a team of misfits for a game in which they can barely compete. They lose to a team of vicious girl scouts, only to succeed thanks to a technicality, qualifying for the finals. Unfortunately, White Goodman and his pumped-up ringers stand in the way. Only a saucy disabled ex-dodgeball superstar (Rip Torn) and an attractive auditor from the bank (Christine Taylor) drive the team towards victory.
Brash and crude, "Dodgeball" sets up some fast zingers and knocks most into the audience's funny bones. As violent as a Road Runner cartoon, the bawdy jokes poke fun at sports, the health fad and several politically incorrect subjects.
Vaughn, a mild-mannered funny man, is the film's anchor. He allows Stiller to buzz around like a rabid bee while he keeps the audience's attention throughout. Taylor, Stiller's wife, has a genuine presence. Whether playing straight woman to the surrounding comics, or extending her own perverse jokes, Taylor is endearing.
This raucous comedy will join the annals of sports spoofs with "Slap Shot" and "The Longest Yard."

Official Movie Website  

"Anchorman" achieves the impossible. It made me laugh continuously without allowing me to enjoy the film.
During the swinging seventies, Ron Burgundy (Will Farrell) is the cock on the walk at the local San Diego TV station. The lead anchor for the news, he commands a brigade of chauvinistic reporters who idolize his portentous behavior. Veronica Corningstone, an aggressive hotshot reporter (Christina Applegate) disrupts the henhouse and its roosters, demanding equality in a male-dominated world.
Ron and his wolves harangue the woman, demeaning her in public. Protected by an office full of disenfranchised women, she knocks him off his pedestal. But this battle of the sexes is fought with blanks.
The volleying between Ron and Veronica simulates TV's odd couple Sam Malone and Diane Chambers. However, whereas the dialogue in "Cheers" would go: "Diane: 'Do you know the difference between you and a half-brained ass?' Sam: 'No.' Diane: 'The half-brained ass would.'" The best Farrell could come up with for banter is "your hair's ugly." There was some great slapstick stuff but not one funny line.
Farrell writes situations not repartee. Much of the situations in "Anchorman" are hilarious. A "West Side Story" spoof with battling newsmen (including cameos by Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Luke Wilson and Tim Robbins) had me in tears. Yet there's not a single human being in "Anchorman, just caricatures. "Elf" succeeded because working together with the comic circumstances was genuine pathos. You related the characters, even gruff father James Caan. "Anchorman" never grounds itself in reality or humanity. It remains shallow.
A pleasant rental for a rainy day, "Anchorman" never achieves the level that its satirical subject matter warrants. Grade: Dodgeball: B+; Anchorman: C+

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