DodgeBall: A True Underdog Story

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DodgeBall: A True Underdog Story
Movie poster Dodgeball A True Underdog Story.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byRawson Marshall Thurber
Produced by
Written byRawson Marshall Thurber
Music byTheodore Shapiro
CinematographyJerzy Zielinski
Edited by
Distributed by20th Century Fox
Release date
  • June 18, 2004 (2004-06-18)
Running time
93 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$20 million[1]
Box office$167.7 million[1]

DodgeBall: A True Underdog Story is a 2004 American sports comedy film written and directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber and starring Vince Vaughn and Ben Stiller.

The plot follows a group of misfits entering a Las Vegas dodgeball tournament to save their cherished local gym from the onslaught of a corporate health fitness chain.


Peter LaFleur is the owner of Average Joe's Gymnasium, a small, dilapidated gym with only a few members. When he defaults on the gym's mortgage, it is purchased by White Goodman, the arrogant owner of the Globo Gym across the street. Unless Peter can raise $50,000 in thirty days, Goodman will foreclose on Average Joe's and demolish it to build a parking garage. Attorney Katherine "Kate" Veatch is working on the transaction for Goodman. He unsuccessfully attempts to seduce her; she is repulsed and kindly refuses his advances, citing conflict of interest (COI). Meanwhile, she develops a close friendship with Peter while reviewing his financial records.

Average Joe's employees Dwight and Owen and members Steve (who acts like and truly believes he is a pirate), Justin, and Gordon try to raise the money needed to save the gym. Gordon suggests that they enter a dodgeball tournament in Las Vegas with a $50,000 prize. They form a team with Peter and watch a 1950s-era training video narrated by dodgeball legend Patches O'Houlihan and a boy named Timmy. They are soundly defeated by a Girl Scout troop in a local qualifying match, but win by default thanks to the disqualification of the Scouts out of one member's steroid and beaver tranquilizer use.

Goodman spies on Average Joe's using a hidden camera, and forms his own dodgeball team to defeat them. Peter is approached by the aging Patches, now a wheelchair user, who volunteers to coach the team. Patches's unusual training regimen includes throwing wrenches at the team, forcing them to dodge oncoming cars, and constantly berating them with insults. Kate demonstrates skill at the game but declines to join the team as it would be a COI. Meanwhile, Goodman arranges for Kate to be fired from her law firm to free her from her COI and allow him to date her. Enraged, but now free of COI, Kate joins the Average Joe's team.

At the tournament in Las Vegas, Average Joe's suffers early setbacks but manages to advance to the final round against Globo Gym. The night before the match, Patches is killed by a falling sign. Peter expresses his anxiety that the team will lose and angrily tells Steve that he is not a pirate, causing Steve to leave the team. Returning to his room, Peter encounters Goodman, who offers him $100,000 for the deed to Average Joe's. The day of the final round, Justin leaves to help his classmate Amber with a cheerleading competition, leaving the team without enough members to compete. Peter has a chance encounter with Lance Armstrong, who talks him into rejoining his team. But he and Justin return too late; Average Joe's has already forfeited the match. Gordon finds a loophole in the rules: a majority of the judges can overturn the forfeiture. Chuck Norris casts the tie-breaking vote, allowing the team to play.

After an intense game, Peter and Goodman face off in a sudden-death match to determine the winner. Inspired by a vision of Patches, Peter blindfolds himself and is able to dodge Goodman's throw and strike him, winning the championship and the prize money. Goodman declares the victory meaningless, revealing that Peter agreed to sell Average Joe's to him the previous night, but Peter reveals that he used Goodman's $100,000 to bet on Average Joe's to win; with the odds against them at 50 to 1, he collects $5 million. Because Globo Gym is a public company, he purchases a controlling interest in it, thus regaining Average Joe's, and fires Goodman. Steve, now with a more normal appearance, returns to the group and apologizes to Peter, but with Peter's encouragement he quickly returns to his pirate persona when Peter shows him his winnings.

Peter is shocked when Joyce, a girlfriend of Kate's kisses her passionately, but Kate then reveals that she is bisexual and kisses Peter as well. Kate becomes Peter's lover, Justin and Amber get married with a baby on the way, while Owen begins dating Fran from the Globo Gym team. Peter opens youth dodgeball classes at a newly renovated Average Joe's, while Goodman becomes morbidly obese.


Cameo appearances


Box office[edit]

In its first week, the film grossed over $29 million, and would go on to a domestic gross of $114.3 million,[5] and a worldwide total of $167.7 million.[6]

Critical response[edit]

On review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 70% based on 162 reviews, with an average rating of 6.3/10. The site's consensus reads, "Proudly profane and splendidly silly, Dodgeball is a worthy spiritual successor to the goofball comedies of the 1980s."[7] On Metacritic the film has a score of 55 out of 100, based on 34 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[8] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B+" on an A+ to F scale.[9]

Slant Magazine dismissed the film as "a less-than-one-joke film",[10] while TV Guide remarked that Ben Stiller "doesn't know when to stop".[11] Other critics, such as The Boston Globe, praised Stiller's satirical take on male virility and praised the chemistry between Vince Vaughn and Christine Taylor.[12] Joe Morgenstern of The Wall Street Journal initially declined to review the film, believing it was not worthy of his time. However, after reviewing the DVD, he changed his view, writing, "Mea culpa, mea culpa. Rawson Marshall Thurber's debut feature, starring Ben Stiller opposite Vince Vaughn, is erratic, imbecilic if not completely idiotic, inconsequential in even the small scheme of things, and thoroughly entertaining".[13] Roger Ebert gave the film a three stars out of four rating in his Chicago Sun-Times review and writes "in a miraculous gift to the audience, 20th Century-Fox does not reveal all of the best gags in its trailer."[14]


Copyright lawsuit[edit]

In 2005, two New York City screenwriters, David Price and Ashoka Thomas, filed suit in federal court against Fox and Thurber, claiming copyright infringement of an unproduced screenplay they had written, DodgeBall: The Movie, by Thurber and Fox. They alleged there were a number of similarities in the plots of the two screenplays, and that Thurber may have had access to their screenplay, which was finished a month before his and submitted to an agent whose assistant he was acquainted with.[15] Lawyers for the defendants dismissed some of the allegations as coincidental. They said that both screenplays were the work of writers who used common formulaic elements. Judge Shira Scheindlin denied the defense motion for summary judgement and ordered a jury trial.[16][17] The suit was later settled out of court.[18][19]


Possible sequel[edit]

On April 22, 2013, it was announced that 20th Century Fox has started developing a sequel to the film, with Clay Tarver writing the script and Ben Stiller and Vince Vaughn returning to star.[20] However Ben Stiller has since stated that he wasn't aware a DodgeBall sequel was happening.[21] A reunion video featuring the cast was released online in June 2017, announcing a competition to raise funds for the Stiller Foundation.[22]

ESPN8: The Ocho[edit]

On August 8, 2017, ESPN paid homage to its lampooned portrayal in DodgeBall by airing a day-long "ESPN 8: The Ocho" marathon on its college sports channel ESPNU. In the spirit of the programming depicted in the film, it consisted of lesser-known and unconventional sports and competitions—including trampoline dodgeball, darts, disc golf, kabaddi, and roller derby.[23][24] The stunt was reprised the following two years on ESPN2, and also included airings of DodgeBall.[25][26]


The DVD and Blu-ray releases all contain various outtakes and deleted scenes including an alternate ending as well as an infamous ‘Easter Egg’ in the form of a spoof director’s commentary.

The directors commentary track starts out in the traditional fashion with the director and co-stars but soon adds in extra characters and descends into a largely unrelated comedy experience. Halfway through a seemingly chaotic recording, it stops and is replaced by the directors' commentary for There's Something About Mary.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "xXx: The Return of Xander Cage (2017)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved February 18, 2017.
  2. ^ "Lance Armstrong ruined 'Dodgeball'". USA Today. January 15, 2013. Retrieved May 28, 2018.
  3. ^ Sternbergh, Adam (July 15, 2004). "Chuck Norris As Himself". Slate. ISSN 1091-2339. Retrieved May 28, 2018.
  4. ^ "10 Things You Didn't Know About Dodgeball". IFC. October 6, 2015. Retrieved May 28, 2018.
  5. ^ "DodgeBall: A True Underdog Story (2004) – Weekend Box Office Results".
  6. ^ Official website "Archived copy". Archived from the original on June 22, 2004. Retrieved June 21, 2004.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  7. ^ "Dodgeball – A True Underdog Story". June 18, 2004.
  8. ^ "Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story". Metacritic.
  9. ^ "CinemaScore". Archived from the original on April 5, 2015.
  10. ^ "Film Review: Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story". Slant Magazine. Archived from the original on March 24, 2009. Retrieved June 18, 2009.
  11. ^ "Review of Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story". TV Guide. Retrieved June 18, 2009.
  12. ^ Morris, Wesley (June 18, 2004). "Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story Movie Review". The Boston Globe. Retrieved June 18, 2009.
  13. ^ Morgenstern, Joe (July 15, 2005). "As Fast-Talking Con Men, 'Wedding Crashers' Wilson And Vaughn Take the Cake (2005)". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved November 14, 2009.
  14. ^ "Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story". Chicago Sun-Times.
  15. ^ "Complaint". United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. June 2005. Archived from the original on April 16, 2009. Retrieved July 20, 2011.
  16. ^ Glaberson, William (July 22, 2007). "Dodgeballs and Jokes May Seem Too Close for Comfort". The New York Times. Retrieved July 20, 2011.
  17. ^ Price v. Fox Entertainment Group, 499 F. Supp. 2d 382, (S.D.N.Y., 2007).
  18. ^ "Intellectual Property". Davis & Gilbert LLP. 2011. Retrieved July 20, 2011. We successfully represented the plaintiffs in a high-profile copyright-infringement lawsuit in which two screenwriters alleged that the hit movie Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story infringed the copyright in their screenplay Dodgeball: The Movie.
  19. ^ "Michael B. Carlinsky". Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan. 2011. Retrieved July 20, 2011. Represented Fox Entertainment Group, Twentieth Century Fox and other defendants against copyright infringement claims arising out of the Ben Stiller movie Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story ... Obtained a favorable settlement.
  20. ^ "'Dodgeball' Sequel in the Works at Fox (Exclusive)". April 22, 2013. Retrieved July 15, 2013.
  21. ^
  22. ^ Gwen Ihnat (June 14, 2017). "The rival teams from Dodgeball reunite for charity in new video". The AV Club.
  23. ^ "ESPN is creating ESPN8: 'The Ocho' for one glorious day". SB Nation. Retrieved August 18, 2017.
  24. ^ Rosenthal, Phil. "'ESPN8: The Ocho' to replace ESPNU — if only for a day". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved August 28, 2017.
  25. ^ Steinberg, Brian (August 8, 2018). "Bold strategy, Cotton: Inside ESPN's crazy plans to turn 'The Ocho' into a business". Variety. Retrieved August 8, 2018.
  26. ^ "ESPN is bringing back 'The Ocho'". Retrieved August 16, 2018.

External links[edit]