• Dodgeball wasn't exactly a smash when it was released in 2004, but it's done much better on cable and DVD, where viewers get a better chance to appreciate its quotable appeal. Blackballed should fit right into that same fringe-sport niche, since everyone involved completely buys into the fake mystique they've created for paintball and for Dukes. Example: During Dukes's first practice game after coming back, one of his opponents refers to being shot by the former legend as a "religious experience." That's just about when I was sold on Blackballed. Though, honestly, if someone made a Hacky Sack movie and everyone got through it with a straight face, I'd probably love that too.
• The cast (which includes Corddry, Scheer, Rob Riggle, Rob Huebel, Ed Helms, Owen Burke, and Seth Morris, and Dannah Feinglass) may not be filled with household names, but they're all stars on the improv-comedy circuit, which centers around the Upright Citizen's Brigade Theatres in New York and Los Angeles. Besides The Daily Show, you've likely seen more than a few of them on VH1's Best Week Ever, as well as Saturday Night Live and Mad TV. They're perfect here, to the point where you sort of forget it's a movie after a while or at least forget it's not a documentary. No one breaks character, which is essential to a movie like this and seemingly impossible whilst spewing out reams of paintball jargon.
After the movie finished, I really did believe it was a "festival favorite." But I couldn't figure out why it only got a "limited theatrical release." It certainly deserves better, and maybe it will get that now that it's on DVD. Because I'd take a bullet for it. Even a painted one.
Thus I approached Blackballed: The Bobby Dukes Story (Shout! Factory) with a bit of trepidation, being that it was a "festival favorite" with a "limited theatrical release." Again, that's like when a real estate ad says "charming" (read: "oppressively tiny") and "a steal at this price" (read: "been on the market for more than a year and will be burned down for insurance money if not moved within the month"). But Blackballed is one of those glorious exceptions, thanks to a great cast (headed by The Daily Show's Rob Corddry) and a solid formula: Waiting for Guffman + Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story x the Upright Citizen's Brigade Theatre-fueled improv comedy scene. I'll take the elements of that formula one at a time.