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BY ADAM WAJNBERG
& DAVID BLUMENSTEIN
SEPTEMBER 16, 2004
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How many times have you sat down and watched a movie
with your mates, and at the end of it said "We can do better
Don't answer the question, because chances are I can't
hear you when you're doing it. But let's assume your answer is "A
whole buncha times, Adam". And then you and your friends would
either lay the whole thing to rest, smugly satisfied that if you could
be bothered, you'd be making fat (phat?) Hollywood scriptwriting cash,
or you actually attempted to do it, and quickly discovered how hard
it is to come up with a plot, characters, dramatic through-line, etc.
Well, it turns out you're not alone. A few years ago,
Ben Stiller and Vince Vaughn saw Baseketball, and said "We can
do better than that?!?" and went to work. See, unlike you, they
had reason to believe they were right. They were big shots. So they
This movie is fine. The plot is absolutely terrible
-- one gym tries to buy out another, so they compete at dodgeball
-- but you don't watch it for plot. You watch it to see Stiller being
a spastic, Vaughn being laconic, Rip Torn being violent and Christine
Taylor being hot (so hot she may even be hawt). So we won't go into
details. Suffice to say, the gags occasionally fall flat and rely
a little too much on slapstick, but it's pretty good slapstick.
Remember that bit in Baseketball when Cooper gets hit
in the balls with the ball? Well here they've done that a billion
times. And people get hit with flying wrenches. And Rip Torn gets
a chance to say "You look like a bunch of retards trying to fuck
a doorknob". And Jason Bateman is very good as colour commentator
"Pepper Brooks", and it's good to see him working again.
And kudos to my brother, Joe, who was able to remember what show he
was originally on way back when. It was Valerie. He played David Hogan.
Then again on The Hogan Family after Valerie Harper died in a car
crash, MHDSRIP. Remember that scene when David came down for a date,
and he had moussed half his hair, and left the other half un-moussed?
Classic. It's moments like these that made Valerie so heartwarming
Dodgeball: 5.5/10 (s'aright)
Baseketball: 8/10 (the shit)
Valerie: 7/10 (solid)
Fudge: 8/10 (tasty)
I saw "Garfield". When I tell people that,
they ask me (invariably) "Ueeh, why?" And the answer is
that I was once a big Garfield fan. I've got lots of Garfield paperbacks.
The first time I flew on a plane, at the age of seven, I even vomited
on one. Granted, it was due to a pre-flight wurst sandwich and a smoker
in the next seat, but that's why the book is missing its cover and
has stained pages. An heirloom it is.
In the intervening years, of course, I learned that
Jim Davis, the strip's creator, no longer draws the strip, has only
a vague hand in writing it, and spends most of his time working on
the merchandising of his "cash cat".
Now, that ("cash cat") is indicative (though
not specifically representative) of the sort of wit and humour you'll
experience if you go see "Garfield".
I recently became employed in the sector of the graphic
design industry known as "licensing", which means I manipulate
key art provided by companies in order to provide the world with,
for example, "Shrek" calendars, or "Lizzie McGuire"
sticker books. In conversation with my boss, I let it be known that
I was not a fan of the more recent work of Jim Davis, and that I considered
him basically (to paraphrase his character's marketing machine) "a
big fat hairy sellout".
Her response, interestingly to me, was that she'd met
him and that he was a nice guy, unlike Charles M. Schulz ("Peanuts")
who was "anal". From my perspective (that of a cartoonist,
not a design worker), this confirmed my belief that Schulz is kickass.
Davis, obviously, is not an anal man. He was very happy
to let a bunch of people (with good pedigree, mind you) make a live-action
film about Garfield despite the fact that it's a crazy bad idea. I
imagine Davis welcomed the stinky product placements (he is a master
It's probably not worth my continuing. You've seen the
ads, you know what to expect. Small children may enjoy it unless they're
frightened by the weird-looking CG Garfield or the scene where the
bad guy electrocutes Odie.
DODGEBALL stars Jason Bateman, Ben Stiller and Vince
Vaughn. and Rated M. Runs 92 minutes.
GARFIELD stars the voice of Bill Murray (who can't
save it), Breckin Meyer (who has a minor, thankless role even though
he's billed first) and Jennifer Love Hewitt (who is still too thin).
It's rated G. It's too long.