A post-match analysis of Team USA vs Team UK celebrity dodgeball game
If you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball
The Late Late Show has triumphed where politics has failed, much to the benefit of celebrity dodgeball enthusiasts worldwide.
The United Kingdom and the United States of America have finally united, albeit briefly, to ascertain which of the two great nations is the best (at dodgeball).
James Corden enlisted the help of noted brits Harry Styles, Benedict Cumberbatch, John Bradley and for some reason Reggie Watts, to duel noted Americans Michelle Obama, Melissa McCarthy, Alison Janney, Mila Kunis, Lena Waithe and Kate Hudson to engage in a heated intercontinental dodgeball match.
The game was heated, it was gripping, it was mildly entertaining, but ultimately only one nation could emerge victorious. Inevitably, the one where dodgeball originated and is frequently practiced.
A good time was had by all involved and at the end of the day, that's all that matters.
So let's ruin that wholesome outcome by critiquing each side's dodgeball technique.
As per the official dodgeball rules and regulations, five dodgeballs are placed in the centre of the court. Once the whistle sounds, all players must compete for a ball. Based on Team USA's stances seen above, Obama isn't overly committed to the game. Her squat is half-assed and her feet are planted flat on the ground. McCarthy is out for blood, using a face shield to prevent the spatter from getting into her eyes. Kunis is shouting an obscenity at the Brits. Hudson is getting ready for her school sports day 100m dash. Janney is waiting to see if the cashier is going to open another till so that she can quickly pay for her can of Coke Zero and be on her way. Waithe appears to be challenging someone to a dance off.
Conversely, Team UK are ever so slightly more together in their pursuit of victory. John Bradley appears to be suffering from some sort of back ailment already, based on his aggressive stance, Cumberbatch seems to be offended at just being called Blended Coleslaw, Styles looks ready to pounce on the free cake that's just been announced in the work kitchen, Watts is determined to ace his blind person training assault course and Corden is asking the teacher if he can please go to the toilet because it's an emergency.
Proceedings get underway and Styles procures a ball. He's positively giddy with joy. From a strategic point of view, he should be scanning his opponents to detect a worthy recipient of a thrashing. Instead, he's flashing a cheeky stare into the camera, delighting his fanbase and viewers alike, but ultimately jeopardising his team's chances of success. Behind him, Watts is staying alert to the threat of oncoming balls. Removing his sunglasses would surely aid things visually, but then he wouldn't look cool as fuck. It's a double-edged sword and you have to feel for the guy.
After expertly executing what the voiceover dubbed "a Cumbercatch", Cumberbatch completes a tricky cross-court manoeuvre, attempting to strike The First Lady. It's a bold move, one an American would never attempt because they simply respect the woman far too much. But not Cumberbatch, she's never been married to someone who governed his country. He misses Obama by a wide margin, proving that if you're going to come for the Queen, you better not miss. His form is actually quite impressive. That right leg is ripe for a Riverdance rendition, should he ever consider doing Strictly.
Looking like she's just heard the DJ drop 'Everybody' by the Backstreet Boys, Michelle Obama dodges a wayward ball with staggering precision. She remains in control of her own ball, avoiding any major incident much like her husband's time as President. Beside her, Janney is gearing up to unleash a belter. McCarthy, long eliminated from the game, cheers on the team from the comfort of a bench, which Kunis and Waithe cower in the back. Kate Hudson is off screen, pitching her sequel movie idea How To Lose A Guy In 11 Days to anyone that will listen.
Watts suffers a devastating knockout from Waithe. He falls to the ground, dragging himself off the court due to immobilisation. In the dodgeball world, this is referred to as the 'dramatic worm'. In the real world, we refer to it as 'an attention-seeking but ultimately very satisfying move to watch'. Much like Brexit, Waithe's retaliation was quick, precise and detrimental to team UK. She came out of nowhere and throttled her fellow countryman. This was a malicious and determined attack, proving that where there's a will, there is most certainly a Waithe.
Obama takes the strain. She's got one arm at a 90 degree angle to her body, steadying herself and ensuring accuracy of aim. Her body is tilted backwards, meaning an almighty launch is imminent. In the dodgeball world, we call this a FRFYL (fucking run for your life) throw. In 1932, a man named John Fakesurname died from one of these notorious plays. Obama will have done her research and practiced these moves before the game. The United States is depending on her ability to eliminate Team UK's final player.
Styles is alone and vulnerable on the regulation-sized court. He's facing down the barrel of an Obama special. Once Michelle released that ball, he had nowhere to go. He's used to having the backup of four guys, but there's just two guys on Harry's side at this point and they've both just been crushed like an orange at a juice bar. Game one comes to a close with the United Kingdom dragging behind. Former First Lady Michelle Obama took her four-woman team (with two keeping the bench warm) to victory. The USA triumphs.
The second game sees a more focused approach from the Brits, with Bradley now appearing to be suffering from a knee injury, Cumberbatch getting ready to attack the Olympics 200m men's final, Styles gesturing to his roadie that he needs the bongo drums brought out, Watts attempting to do the robot and Corden trying to walk in a straight line as ordered by a policeman who suspects him of drink driving. They're a determined bunch and the United Kingdom holds its breath, thinking 'Please do not embarrass us, we can do that ourselves'.
The initial ball-grabbing ceremony sees the UK coming away with three balls clean and a fruitless grapple for the remaining two. The odds are in their favour, with one remaining player staying in the back looking after the halftime oranges. It's essential that all dodgeball players get at least two segments of the citrus fruit to keep their Vitamin C levels up and also to make each other laugh by pretending that the skin is their actual teeth. Morale is an essential part of dodgeball.
Styles is hungry for revenge after his crushing embarrassment at the end of the last game. But rather than being so bold as to go after the former First Lady, he takes the easy route. He hurls the ball at beloved Can You Ever Forgive Me? actress Melissa McCarthy. The ball connects with her foot and again, she's the first eliminated from the US team. This is a costly mistake, which will see her passport immediately revoked, along with her Netflix subscription and all direct debits.
Obama is next to be blasted off the court. She tried to take out Styles for the second time, but he caught the ball. Ordinarily, this would be enough to eliminate her from the game, but Corden and Cumberbatch were out for blood. They double-teamed her, each launching a ball at her feet. Still, at least we get to see that her jersey is number 44, which is a nice touch given that her husband was the 44th President of the United States who once said 44 times in a row that the Brits are absolutely trash at dodgeball. You may now temporarily revoke that statement, sir.
Taunting her opponents like a fly bashing itself off a window as you're trying to go to sleep, Janney goads team UK into turning their efforts towards her. Kunis continues to be useless at the back, meanwhile Kate Hudson is off screen, pitching her movie sequel idea Bride Wars 2 to anyone that will listen. Waithe is enjoying herself, safe in the knowledge that she really doesn't need this game to go well because on a professional level, things are doing fine for her right now. Janney's form is perfect dodgeball etiquette. She's saying 'COME AT ME' and it's working. Then Watts throttles her in the chest with a ball.
In an immediate retort, Watts is again struck in the leg. This is what happens when you pretend to be British, you get knocked down, but you get up again. His reactions to being gently tipped by a dodgeball are reminiscent of many premier league football players, which is a nice nod from Watts to the culture he's pretending to be a part of. Bradley looks on in amazement as he sees the striking comparison between Reggie Watts and Neymar. An essential part of dodgeball is daydreaming, along with offering up quotes from the movie Dodgeball.
In the closing moments of the game, the USA suffers a crushing defeat as both Waithe and Kunis are knocked out at the hands of the British opponents. The man seen in the background is a Dodgeball Association of America scout and he's there to spot upcoming talent. He's blown away by these celebrities' aptitude for the game. Their ability to work together as a team, somehow pull off hideous matching uniforms and a visor, create viral content and still seem likeable, it's exactly what DAA has been looking for. These famous folks' careers are at varying levels of success, but their skills aren't. Soak it in because you're looking at the future of celebrity dodgeball folks.
Heading into the final game and it's all to play for. In keeping with their tradition, team UK look suitably insane ahead of the commencing whistle. Bradley is midway through starting a Mexican wave, Cumberbatch is applauding a mediocre magician at a wedding fair, Styles is signalling to his publicist that it's time to wrap things up, Watts is an ASOS armband model and Corden is in primary school trying to intimidate the school bully enough so that he will punch him, leaving a bruise which will make him seem intriguing and cool.
Team USA are more focused. Obama is checking the fit of a new pair of shoes using those tiny floor mirrors that they have in the shops, McCarthy is applauding an irritating toddler who's shown her a very mediocre handstand for the fourth time, Kunis is hyping up her bros before they hit the club, Waithe is stretching out a recurring hamstring injury, Hudson is stretching out a recurring calf injury and Janney is practicing her moves ahead of a hoedown she's going to be attending after the match.
As is now tradition, McCarthy is first to be eliminated from Team USA, meaning she can get back to keeping the bench company and cheering on her celebrity teammates from the safety of the sidelines. Throughout her combined total of six seconds on the court, her visor was needed precisely zero times. Still, at least it looks cool. Kunis pushes McCarthy to the side so that she can get back to hiding at the back of the court. Waithe and Hudson are hungry for blood, or failing that, a plant-based juice alternative.
Cumberbatch, looking remarkably like Lord Voldemort, curves an absolute beauty of a ball towards his opponents. So stunning is his form, Bradley takes a moment to stand agape at what is about to transpire. Cumberbatch's form is excellent, making great use of his back to throw weight into the ball, adopting a low centre of gravity for improved accuracy. The recipient of the ball, one Former First Lady Michelle Obama gets his square in the leg, but cannot protest. To be ousted by such stunning form is an honour, even it means she must now order a hit on Sherlock.
Spurred on by Voldemort's savagery, Styles launches another attack. He spreads his legs far apart, gets down low, raises his arm, squeezes the ball ever so slightly and lets rip. An unsuspecting Mila Kunis is knocked out this time, proving that Team UK have no respect for powerful women, nor the hit 2011 movie Friends With Benefits which showcases Justin Timberlake's ability to pull off a realistic sleazy horndog role. Corden is seen in the background shouting obscenities at Team USA, such as 'I am a Brit' and 'But please, I need your jobs'.
Things whittle down to a 2-on-1 situation, with Waithe and Janney tackling Cumberbatch. The odds are in their favour. Cumberbatch is ball-less and frightened. The balls are very literally in their court. Their teammates cheer them on from the sidelines. Corden is giving Cumberbatch a pep talk, probably along the lines of 'You can do this' and 'We are contractually obliged to let them win, my dude'.
In a nod to Queen Obama's earlier fate, Waithe and Janney double-team Cumberbatch. Both launch their balls in perfect unison. Their respective forms could use some work, but as long as the intended goal is reached, it really doesn't matter. They could've tenderly floated those balls over to the other side of the court and still beaten Sherlock to a pulp. The USA does not negotiate with consulting detectives. Not now, not ever.
The final play sees Cumberbatch taken to the cleaners, then made dirty again, then taken back to the cleaners. It's a double whammy as both balls make contact with his legs. Watts is in disbelief. Styles appears to be watching but not really paying attention. Corden is delighted as per their earlier arrangement. But Cumberbatch is livid. He's been made to look a fool. His career is over, as is his notoriety as the bad boy of dodgeball. He has disgraced the great nation of the United Kingdom. He will not be allowed back into the country every again. The Queen will arrange for him to be executed at her nearest convenience. The USA has beaten the United Kingdom at celebrity dodgeball. Show's over, folks. Pack your things up and get ready to emigrate. We're done here.
Images via YouTube