Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story

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Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story
Theatrical release poster
Directed byRawson Marshall Thurber
Written byRawson Marshall Thurber
Produced by
CinematographyJerzy Zieliński
Edited by
Music byTheodore Shapiro
Distributed by20th Century Fox[1]
Release date
  • June 18, 2004 (2004-06-18)
Running time
92 minutes[1]
Budget$20 million[2]
Box office$168.4 million[2]

Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story is a 2004 sports comedy film written and directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber and starring Vince Vaughn and Ben Stiller. The film follows a group of unlikely misfits who enter a Las Vegas dodgeball tournament in the hopes of winning $50,000 to save their cherished local gym from being taken over by corporate health fitness chain Globo Gym.

Theatrically released by 20th Century Fox on June 18, 2004, the film received generally positive reviews from critics and grossed $168.4 million on a $20 million budget. A sequel is in development.[3][4]


When Peter LaFleur defaults on the mortgage for his small, dilapidated, financially struggling and understaffed gym Average Joe's, his cocky and vindictive business rival White Goodman, who owns Globo Gym across the street, purchases it, planning to foreclose on and demolish Average Joe's to build a new auxiliary parking structure for his members unless Peter can raise $50,000 in 30 days. Goodman attempts to seduce attorney Katherine "Kate" Veatch, who is handling his account; repulsed, she cites conflict of interest (COI) to rebuff his disturbing advances.

Peter, gym employees Dwight Baumgarten and Owen Dittman, and members Steve "Pirate" Cowan, Justin Redman, and Gordon Pibb unite to raise the required money. After an impromptu car wash suggested by Owen fails, Gordon suggests entering a dodgeball tournament in Las Vegas with a $50,000 grand prize. Justin obtains a 1950s-era training film featuring Irish-American dodgeball legend Patches O'Houlihan, which the group watches before the sub-regional qualifiers the following day. Girl Scout Troop 417 easily defeats them, but one member's use of three separate types of anabolic steroids and a low-grade beaver tranquilizer results in their disqualification, which leads to Average Joe's effectively being named as the winner by default.

Having spied on Average Joe's using a hidden camera in a cutout of himself, Goodman forms his own team, the Globo Gym Purple Cobras, surprising Gordon by revealing that his extremely personal friendship with the chancellor allowed him to bypass the mandatory qualification match. After watching their confrontation, Patches, now an elderly man who uses a wheelchair, approaches Peter, volunteering to coach the team. Patches' unusual training regimen involves having them dodge wrenches, oncoming cars, and his constant insults. Kate demonstrates skill at the sport but declines to join the team, citing COI. Goodman arrives at Kate's house uninvited and announces that he misled her bosses about her stealing and drinking on the job, thus getting her fired from her law firm and freeing him to date her. Enraged, but now free of COI, she rejects Goodman and joins the Average Joe's team.

Despite early setbacks, the team advances to the final round against Globo Gym. The night before the match, a falling sign in the casino kills Patches. Returning to his room, Peter encounters an uninvited Goodman, who greedily offers him $100,000 for the deed to Average Joe's, claiming that Peter will inevitably cause its closure. Demoralized and anxious that the team will lose without Patches's motivation, Peter chastises Steve's pirate behavior upon returning to the group, causing Steve's departure. On the day of the final round, Justin assists his classmate and love interest Amber in a cheerleading competition after his bully and rival Derek becomes severely injured, leaving Average Joe's short of players. Peter briefly encounters Lance Armstrong, who restores his morale and rejoins his team, but he and Justin return too late; Average Joe's has already forfeited. After Gordon discovers that a majority of the judges can overturn the forfeiture, the tie-breaking vote from Chuck Norris reinstates the team.

After an intense game, Peter and Goodman have a sudden-death match. Inspired by Patches' spirit, Peter blindfolds himself, evades Goodman's throw, and strikes him in the face, winning the championship and the prize money. Goodman nullifies the victory, revealing that Peter sold Average Joe's to him the previous night, but Peter explains he used Goodman's $100,000 to bet on Average Joe's victory; with the odds against them at 50 to 1, he collects $5 million. Since Globo Gym is a publicly traded company, Peter purchases a controlling interest in it, thus regaining Average Joe's and firing Goodman. Steve returns, now appearing more normal, but revives his pirate persona when Peter reveals their winnings as "buried treasure." Joyce, a friend of Kate's who caught an earlier flight from Guam to witness the final match, arrives and kisses her passionately, shocking Peter. Still, Kate then reveals her bisexuality and kisses Peter similarly. Kate becomes Peter's girlfriend, Justin and Amber get married with a baby on the way, and Owen begins dating Fran Stalinovskovichdaviddivichski from the Globo Gym team. Later, Peter opens youth dodgeball classes at a newly renovated Average Joe's, while a disgraced Goodman returns to morbid obesity, blaming Norris for his plight.


  • Vince Vaughn as Peter "Pete" LaFleur, the very laid-back and casual owner of Average Joe's Gym whose lack of attention leads to its foreclosure
  • Christine Taylor as Katherine "Kate" Veatch, a very athletic real estate and tax lawyer who is assigned by the bank to sort out the finances at Average Joe's Gym and ends up joining the Average Joe's dodgeball team after losing her job
  • Ben Stiller as White Goodman, the arrogant and cocky owner of Globo Gym who is trying to buy out Average Joe's so that he can demolish it and build a parking lot and aggressively pursues a relationship with Kate despite her constant rejections
  • Rip Torn as Patches O'Houlihan, a retired seven-time ADAA dodgeball All-Star who coaches the Average Joe's team
  • Justin Long as Justin Redman, a high school student and regular customer at Average Joe's
  • Stephen Root as Gordon Pibb, a regular customer at Average Joe's
  • Alan Tudyk as Steve "Pirate" Cowan, a regular customer at Average Joe's who dresses, talks, and acts like a pirate
  • Joel David Moore as Owen Dittman, an employee at Average Joe's
  • Chris Williams as Dwight Baumgarten, an employee at Average Joe's
  • Missi Pyle as Fran Stalinovskovichdaviddivichski, a professional dodgeball player from Romanovia, playing for the Globo Gym team, who becomes Owen's girlfriend
  • Jamal Duff as Me'Shell Jones, White Goodman's "Fitness Consigliere" who carries out Goodman's orders
  • Gary Cole as Cotton McKnight, one of the TV announcers for the dodgeball tournament
  • Jason Bateman as Pepper Brooks, the color commentator for the dodgeball tournament TV broadcast
  • Al Kaplon as The Referee
  • William Shatner as The Dodgeball Chancellor
  • Julie Gonzalo as Amber, a cheerleader at Justin's high school on whom he has a crush, and becomes his wife
  • Trever O'Brien as Derek, another cheerleader at Justin's high school and Amber's ex-boyfriend
  • Rusty Joiner as Blade, a member of the Globo Gym dodgeball team
  • Kevin Porter as Lazer, a member of the Globo Gym dodgeball team
  • Brandon Molale as Blazer, a member of the Globo Gym dodgeball team
  • Curtis Armstrong as Mr. Ralph
  • Scarlett Chorvat as Joyce, Kate's close friend
  • Lori Beth Denberg as Martha Johnstone, an overweight cheerleader at Justin's high school
  • Cayden Boyd as Timmy, a boy in the dodgeball instructional video
  • Suzy Nakamura as Gordon's wife
  • Bob Cicherillo as Rory (uncredited)[5][6]
  • Patton Oswalt as video store clerk and narrator of a video that Goodman watches while fondling a piece of pizza (uncredited)
Cameo appearances


Ben Stiller's character, White Goodman, was an intentional copy-and-paste of his character Tony Perkis Jr. from the film Heavyweights. Stiller opted to simply redo his performance believing that no one had seen that film, but learned too late that the movie had a large cult following. He added that Perkis was "definitely a first or second cousin to [Goodman]" and had no regrets over doing an alternate portrayal of him.[10]

When the film was screened to test audiences, the original ending had Average Joe's lose to Globo Gym in the final match. After the ending was viewed negatively by the test audiences, the sudden death match and Average Joe's winning the dodgeball tournament were added alongside White going back to obesity.[11][12]

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.[13] 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 judgment and ordered a jury trial.[14][15] The suit was later settled out of court.[16][17]


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,[18] and a worldwide total of $168.4 million.[2]

Critical response[edit]

On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, 71% of 165 critics' reviews are positive, with an average rating of 6.3/10. The website's consensus reads: "Proudly profane and splendidly silly, Dodgeball is a worthy spiritual successor to the goofball comedies of the 1980s."[19] Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, assigned the film a score of 55 out of 100, based on 34 critics, indicating "mixed or average" reviews.[20] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B+" on an A+ to F scale.[21]

Slant Magazine dismissed the film as "a less-than-one-joke film",[22] while TV Guide remarked that Ben Stiller "doesn't know when to stop".[23] 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.[24] 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".[25] 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."[26]




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.[27] However, Ben Stiller later stated that he wasn't aware a Dodgeball sequel was happening.[28] A reunion video featuring the cast entitled Play Dodgeball with Ben Stiller was released online in June 2017, announcing a competition to raise funds for the Stiller Foundation.[29]

On April 27, 2023, it was announced that 20th Century Studios had re-begun production on a sequel, with actor Vince Vaughn set to return, and possibly serve as a producer on the new film.[30]

ESPN8: The Ocho[edit]

On August 8, 2017, ESPN paid homage to its lampooned portrayal in Dodgeball by airing a day-long "ESPN8: 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.[31][32] The stunt was reprised the following two years on ESPN2, and also included airings of Dodgeball.[33][34]

Due to a lack of live sports programming during the COVID-19 pandemic, ESPN announced on March 22, 2020, that it would reprise the stunt earlier than scheduled on ESPN2.[35] It did it on May 2, 2020, on ESPN, and then August 8, 2020, on ESPN2 as well as the Big Screen in Fortnite Party Royale. A collection of sports that were featured on ESPN8, as well as the ESPN8 broadcast on these said networks, were available on the ESPN app.

The program was held again on ESPN2 on August 3, 2023.[36][37] The channel also received a cameo in the 2024 Paramount+ mini-series, Knuckles.

Home video[edit]

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 c d "Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story (2004)". AFI Catalog of Feature Films. Archived from the original on January 4, 2023. Retrieved January 3, 2023.
  2. ^ a b c "Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story". Box Office Mojo. Archived from the original on March 13, 2017. Retrieved February 18, 2017.
  3. ^ "Dodgeball 2 and The Dangerous Trend of Comedy Sequels Made 20 Years Later". MovieWeb. May 5, 2023. Archived from the original on July 17, 2023. Retrieved July 17, 2023.
  4. ^ "Dodgeball 2 is happening with original star Vince Vaughn returning". Digital Spy. April 29, 2023. Archived from the original on July 17, 2023. Retrieved July 17, 2023.
  5. ^ "Getbig Interview: Bob Cicherillo". Get Big. January 11, 2004. Archived from the original on January 9, 2021. Retrieved January 5, 2021.
  6. ^ "MuscleMemory: Bodybuilders in the Movies". MuscleMemory. Archived from the original on January 7, 2021. Retrieved January 5, 2021.
  7. ^ "Lance Armstrong ruined 'Dodgeball'". USA Today. January 15, 2013. Archived from the original on July 4, 2016. Retrieved May 28, 2018.
  8. ^ Sternbergh, Adam (July 15, 2004). "Chuck Norris As Himself". Slate. ISSN 1091-2339. Archived from the original on November 21, 2017. Retrieved May 28, 2018.
  9. ^ "10 Things You Didn't Know About Dodgeball". IFC. October 6, 2015. Archived from the original on June 2, 2017. Retrieved May 28, 2018.
  10. ^ Otto, Jeff (June 16, 2004). "Interview: Ben Stiller and Christine Taylor". IGN. Archived from the original on June 22, 2014. Retrieved February 6, 2024.
  11. ^ Horton, NP (January 11, 2019). "50 Best Alternate Movie Endings". Den of Geek. Archived from the original on January 31, 2022. Retrieved January 31, 2022.
  12. ^ Harrison, Mark (July 8, 2019). "32 Movie Endings That Were Changed by Test Screenings". Den of Geek. Archived from the original on January 31, 2022. Retrieved January 31, 2022.
  13. ^ "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.
  14. ^ Glaberson, William (July 22, 2007). "Dodgeballs and Jokes May Seem Too Close for Comfort". The New York Times. Archived from the original on May 24, 2012. Retrieved July 20, 2011.
  15. ^ Price v. Fox Entertainment Group Archived August 23, 2019, at the Wayback Machine, 499 F. Supp. 2d 382, (S.D.N.Y., 2007).
  16. ^ "Intellectual Property". Davis & Gilbert LLP. 2011. Archived from the original on October 24, 2020. 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.
  17. ^ "Michael B. Carlinsky". Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan. 2011. Archived from the original on December 2, 2014. 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.
  18. ^ "Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story". Box Office Mojo. Archived from the original on May 26, 2021. Retrieved May 2, 2021.
  19. ^ "Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved February 2, 2022. Edit this at Wikidata
  20. ^ "Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story". Metacritic. Fandom, Inc. Retrieved February 2, 2022.
  21. ^ "CinemaScore". CinemaScore. Archived from the original on April 13, 2022. Retrieved February 2, 2022.
  22. ^ "Film Review: Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story". Slant Magazine. Archived from the original on March 24, 2009. Retrieved June 18, 2009.
  23. ^ "Review of Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story". TV Guide. Archived from the original on July 31, 2023. Retrieved June 18, 2009.
  24. ^ Morris, Wesley (June 18, 2004). "Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story Movie Review". The Boston Globe. Archived from the original on March 24, 2009. Retrieved June 18, 2009.
  25. ^ Morgenstern, Joe (July 15, 2005). "As Fast-Talking Con Men, 'Wedding Crashers' Wilson And Vaughn Take the Cake (2005)". The Wall Street Journal. Archived from the original on July 8, 2017. Retrieved November 14, 2009.
  26. ^ Ebert, Roger (June 18, 2004). "Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story". Archived from the original on June 25, 2020. Retrieved July 11, 2020.
  27. ^ "'Dodgeball' Sequel in the Works at Fox (Exclusive)". April 22, 2013. Archived from the original on May 29, 2013. Retrieved July 15, 2013.
  28. ^ Flint, Hanna (February 23, 2016). "EXCLUSIVE: Ben Stiller says there isn't a Dodgeball 2 in the works". Archived from the original on May 6, 2021. Retrieved May 2, 2021.
  29. ^ Ihnat, Gwen (June 14, 2017). "The rival teams from Dodgeball reunite for charity in new video". The AV Club. Archived from the original on June 16, 2017. Retrieved June 16, 2017.
  30. ^ Grobar, Matt (April 27, 2023). "'Dodgeball' Sequel In Works At 20th With Vince Vaughn Returning; Jordan VanDina To Write The Script". Deadline. Archived from the original on April 27, 2023. Retrieved April 27, 2023.
  31. ^ "ESPN is creating ESPN8: 'The Ocho' for one glorious day". SB Nation. Archived from the original on August 18, 2018. Retrieved August 18, 2017.
  32. ^ Rosenthal, Phil. "'ESPN8: The Ocho' to replace ESPNU — if only for a day". Chicago Tribune. Archived from the original on August 13, 2018. Retrieved August 28, 2017.
  33. ^ Steinberg, Brian (August 8, 2018). "Bold strategy, Cotton: Inside ESPN's crazy plans to turn 'The Ocho' into a business". Variety. Archived from the original on August 8, 2018. Retrieved August 8, 2018.
  34. ^ "ESPN is bringing back 'The Ocho'". Archived from the original on August 9, 2018. Retrieved August 16, 2018.
  35. ^ "ESPN8 'The Ocho' is back, normally you have to pay double for that kind of action, Cotton". March 19, 2020. Archived from the original on March 20, 2020. Retrieved March 19, 2020.
  36. ^ "'ESPN8: The Ocho' bringing back 'seldom seen sports': How to watch cornhole, corgi races". USA TODAY.
  37. ^ "How to watch ESPN8: The Ocho, 2023 edition". August 2, 2023.

External links[edit]