The unbearable sameness of Ben Stiller

DodgeballI rented Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story last night and found myself actually liking it. Admittedly, I saw it on the recommendation of friends and not the plot summary (“cast of misfits and token hot girl raise money via dodgeball tournament to thwart evil competitor”), but it was funnier than the movie’s own advertising would have you believe. Every ad I saw for the theatrical release made it look stupid and corny, which is why I avoided it. Thankfully, it exceeded my expectations through competent writing, the hilarious 1950s dodgeball instructional video being one example. However, both the ads and the summary were missing one key factoid: that Ben Stiller is an annoying hack. About a quarter of the way through the movie, it hit me: He was playing the same self-absorbed fitness nut he played in Heavy Weights, with a bit of his dumbass Zoolander character thrown in, and was basically wearing his Anchorman costume. Stiller’s comedic delivery has gone unchanged for years now. From now on, ads for Ben Stiller movies should simply describe his character as a composite of everything he’s ever done. That way, fewer people go home disappointed, and his hard-core fans will be relieved that he isn’t trying anything crazy, like developing as an actor.

—Posted by David Kiefaber