Blackballed: The Bobby Dukes Story (Brant Sersen). 90 minutes. Opens Friday (April 21) at the Royal. See Indie & Rep film listings. Rating: NN Rating: NN
This is a mockumentary version of Dodgeball, with The Daily Show's Rob Corddry as Bobby Dukes, a disgraced paintball legend who decides to make a comeback by putting together a ragtag team to play in a big tournament.
Shot without a script, between breaks in Corddry's day job, Blackballed shows how badly most comedies need a script -- even those filled with improv comedy veterans -- and how easily an independent film can slide into exactly the same clichés as Hollywood comedies. While we're at it, Dodgeball had a more stylish way of simultaneously indulging in and mocking the clichés in question.
There's some undeniable cleverness in evidence here. For sheer silliness, it's hard to top the opening reenactment of the incident that got Bobby Dukes banished from paintball, done entirely with He-Man action figures. And some of the performances are funny, notably a single scene with Corddry's Daily Show colleague Ed Helms and Dannah Feinglass as Dukes's shy sister.
Mostly, Blackballed feels like a sketch expanded to feature length and filmed over a couple of exceedingly drizzly weekends.