Geez, isn’t Peter La Fleur (Vince Vaughn) a top bloke? He runs a gym for a bunch of losers and doesn’t even charge them, has no ambition and just lives for, I don’t really know. Fun? He has sex with ladies, but other than that, he doesn’t seem to have any interest in anything ever. Then there is White Goodman (Ben Stiller), a man so stupid he cannot spell his own name, who was incredibly obese and disgusting (eating food semi naked and letting it drip all over his fat chest and belly), but who lost weight and became obsessed with looking good and bullying others into looking good at his gym. Wow, what a prick, having drive to succeed and achieve. So then, as revenge on Peter for having sex with a couple of White’s sexy trainers, White takes out a mortgage on Peter’s gym (is that legal?) and when Peter is going to default, the only possibility is to raise money, and they only way they can do that is a dodge ball contest. Of course.
I didn’t realise until I started writing the above quite how much I disliked the premise for this film. I’ve mentioned before that I am often disappointed by Vince Vaughn, and he’s fine in this, just quite boring. Not offensive, just boring. Ben Stiller is a bit the same for me – I can absolutely hate him in some things, and love him in others. This is a hate for me – there was not enough comedy in his White Goodman, he was just nasty and self-obsessed and pretty crap.
Having said all that, I really liked the dodge ball tournament side of things – ridiculous, and with wonderful commentary from the ever fabulous Gary Cole and Jason Bateman. It is almost worth watching just for the commentary. Not quite, but almost.
Eric O’Neill (Ryan Phillippe) is a young, up and coming FBI agent who has been put into a position working on a dodgy senior agent, Robert Hanssen (Chris Cooper). It’s based on a true story. I hope loosely, because everything seems dodgy and half-arsed, and surely the FBI are better than that. Surely.
I cannot believe that the young upstart played by Phillippe could possibly so anything the way he does it – from the way he speaks to his superior, played by Laura Linney, to his nervous, wussy demeanor. And surely an agent who has been doing what he has been doing for so long wouldn’t so instantly trust this fool of a kid just because they are of the same religious background. For me, this film was poorly written and not very well executed.
Peter Gibbons (Ron Livingston) hates his job in the office. The work is meaningless, the cubicles unbearable and each of his eight bosses (including the ever- wonderful Gary Cole) take him to task over even the slightest error. His girlfriend takes him to an occupational hypnotherapist who has a heart attack mid-session leaving Gibbons relaxed and honest – leading to a promotion at work, a break-up with his cheating girlfriend and the confidence to ask out the beautiful waitress, Joanna (Jennifer Annisten). But when his friends are to be fired, he needs to get out of his haze and try to do something.
I expect that for those working in offices, this is still a highly relevant film. It has definitely dated (well, with references to Y2K compliance, it was bound to age) but the themes have not. Micro-management by incompetent bosses, dreams of more (or in the case of Gibbons, less) and mis-use of stationery.
Ricky Bobby (Will Ferrell) is the top NASCAR driver, rising to fame with the assistance of his wingman, Cal Naughton Jnr (John C Reilly). But then, after his first, fairly uneventful accident, he suffers post-traumatic stress disorder and cannot drive. His wife leaves him for his best friend, and it is only the assistance of his absent father, Reese Bobby (Gary Cole) that he can get back on track.
This is one of those dumb Will Ferrell/John C Reilly films. Heaps of people love these films. Not me. I found it such a yawn fest. The characters are so ridiculous that there is no empathy for them. Possibly, they would make good characters for a recurring Saturday Night Live sketch, but a whole film? Whatever.