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. The film was theatrically released by 20th Century Fox on June 18, 2004. It received generally positive reviews from critics and grossed $168.4 million on a $20 million budget.
|Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story|
|Directed by||Rawson Marshall Thurber|
|Written by||Rawson Marshall Thurber|
|Music by||Theodore Shapiro|
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox|
|Box office||$168.4 million|
Peter LaFleur owns Average Joe's, a small, dilapidated gym with only a few members. When he defaults on the gym's mortgage, the cocky White Goodman, who owns Globo Gym across the street, purchases it, planning to foreclose on Average Joe's and demolish it 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, telling him she does not date clients.
Peter, gym employees Dwight Baumgarten and Owen Dittman, and members Steve "Pirate" Cowan, Justin Redman, and Gordon Pibb, all band together to raise money. After a car wash suggested by Owen fails, Gordon suggests entering a dodgeball tournament in Las Vegas with a $50,000 prize. After watching a 1950s-era training video obtained by Justin featuring Irish-American dodgeball legend Patches O'Houlihan, the team takes part in the local qualifiers. In a match, they lose easily to Girl Scout Troop 417, who are later disqualified due to one member's use of three separate types of anabolic steroids and a low-grade beaver tranquilizer, effectively handing the win to Average Joe's by default.
Having spied on Average Joe's using a hidden camera, Goodman forms his own team, surprising Gordon by revealing he joined the tournament because of his friendship with the chancellor. After watching their confrontation, Patches, now a wheelchair-bound elderly man, approaches Peter, volunteering to coach the team. Patches' unusual training regimen includes throwing wrenches at the team, having them dodge oncoming cars, and constantly insulting them. Kate demonstrates skill at the sport but declines to join the team, citing COI. Goodman shows up at Kate's house uninvited and announces that he misled her bosses about her drinking on the job, thus getting her fired from her law firm and freeing him to date her. Enraged, but now free of the COI, she rejects Goodman and joins the Average Joe's team.
At the tournament, the team suffers early setbacks but manages to advance to the final round against Globo Gym. The night before the match, a falling sign in the casino kills Patches. Demoralized, and anxious that the team will lose, Peter angrily tells Steve that he is not a pirate, causing Steve to leave the team. Returning to his room, Peter encounters Goodman, who greedily offers him $100,000 for the deed to Average Joe's. The day of the final round, Justin leaves to help his classmate Amber in a cheerleading competition, 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 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 find themselves in a sudden-death match against each other. Inspired by Patches' spirit, Peter blindfolds himself, successfully dodges Goodman's throw and strikes him in the face, winning the championship and the prize money. To nullify the victory, Goodman reveals that Peter sold 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. Since Globo Gym is a publicly traded company, as Kate explains, Peter purchases a controlling interest in it, thus regaining Average Joe's, then publicly fires Goodman. Steve, now appearing more normal, returns and apologizes to Peter, but reverts to his pirate persona when Peter shows him their winnings. Peter is shocked when Joyce, who caught an earlier flight from Guam to witness the final match, arrives and kisses Kate passionately. 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 on, Peter opens youth dodgeball classes at a newly renovated Average Joe's, while Goodman becomes morbidly obese out of depression, blaming Norris for his plight.
During the credits, Goodman breaks the fourth wall and scolds the audience for being accepting towards a generic "good guys win" ending as opposed to an ending that "makes you think", an obvious nod to the film's original ending. He then signs off by dancing to "Milkshake" by Kelis.
- Vince Vaughn as Peter "Pete" LaFleur
- Christine Taylor as Katherine "Kate" Veatch
- Ben Stiller as White Goodman
- Rip Torn as Patches O'Houlihan
- Hank Azaria as young Patches
- Justin Long as Justin Redman
- Stephen Root as Gordon Pibb
- Alan Tudyk as "Pirate" Steve Cowan
- Joel David Moore as Owen Dittman
- Chris Williams as Dwight Baumgarten
- Missi Pyle as Fran Stalinovskovichdaviddivichski
- Jamal Duff as Me'Shell Jones
- Gary Cole as Cotton McKnight
- Jason Bateman as Pepper Brooks
- Al Kaplon as The Referee
- William Shatner as The Dodgeball chancellor
- Julie Gonzalo as Amber
- Trever O'Brien as Derek
- Rusty Joiner as Blade
- Kevin Porter as Lazer
- Brandon Molale as Blazer
- Curtis Armstrong as Mr. Ralph
- Scarlett Chorvat as Joyce
- Lori Beth Denberg as Martha Johnstone
- Cayden Boyd as Timmy
- Bob Cicherillo as Rory (uncredited)
- Patton Oswalt as Video Store Clerk (uncredited)
- Cameo appearances
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.
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. 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. The suit was later settled out of court.
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." 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". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B+" on an A+ to F scale.
Slant Magazine dismissed the film as "a less-than-one-joke film", while TV Guide remarked that Ben Stiller "doesn't know when to stop". 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. 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". 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."
- 2004 ESPY Awards
- Best Sports Movie – Nominated
- 2005 BMI Awards
- Best Film Music, Theodore Shapiro – Won
- 2005 MTV Movie Awards
- Best Comedic Performance, Ben Stiller – Nominated
- Best On-Screen Team (Vince Vaughn, Christine Taylor, Justin Long, Alan Tudyk, Stephen Root, Joel Moore and Chris Williams) – Nominated
- Best Villain, Ben Stiller – Won
- 25th Golden Raspberry Awards
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. However Ben Stiller has since stated that he wasn't aware a Dodgeball sequel was happening. A reunion video featuring the cast was released online in June 2017, announcing a competition to raise funds for the Stiller Foundation.
ESPN8: The OchoEdit
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. The stunt was reprised the following two years on ESPN2, and also included airings of Dodgeball.
Due to a lack of live sports programming during the COVID-19 pandemic, ESPN announced on March 22, 2020, it would reprise the stunt earlier than scheduled on ESPN2. 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 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.
- "Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved February 18, 2017.
- "Getbig Interview: Bob Cicherillo". Get Big. January 11, 2004. Retrieved January 5, 2021.
- "MuscleMemory: Bodybuilders in the Movies". MuscleMemory. Retrieved January 5, 2021.
- "Lance Armstrong ruined 'Dodgeball'". USA Today. January 15, 2013. Retrieved May 28, 2018.
- Sternbergh, Adam (July 15, 2004). "Chuck Norris As Himself". Slate. ISSN 1091-2339. Retrieved May 28, 2018.
- "10 Things You Didn't Know About Dodgeball". IFC. October 6, 2015. Retrieved May 28, 2018.
- Horton, NP (January 11, 2019). "50 Best Alternate Movie Endings". Den of Geek. Retrieved January 31, 2022.
- Harrison, Mark (July 8, 2019). "32 Movie Endings That Were Changed by Test Screenings". Den of Geek. Retrieved January 31, 2022.
- "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.
- Glaberson, William (July 22, 2007). "Dodgeballs and Jokes May Seem Too Close for Comfort". The New York Times. Retrieved July 20, 2011.
- Price v. Fox Entertainment Group, 499 F. Supp. 2d 382, (S.D.N.Y., 2007).
- "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.
- "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.
- "Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story". Box Office Mojo.
- Official website "Twentieth Century Fox: Dodgeball". Archived from the original on June 22, 2004. Retrieved June 21, 2004.
- "Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved February 2, 2022.
- "Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story". Metacritic. Red Ventures. Retrieved February 2, 2022.
- "CinemaScore". CinemaScore. Retrieved February 2, 2022.
- "Film Review: Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story". Slant Magazine. Archived from the original on March 24, 2009. Retrieved June 18, 2009.
- "Review of Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story". TV Guide. Retrieved June 18, 2009.
- Morris, Wesley (June 18, 2004). "Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story Movie Review". The Boston Globe. Retrieved June 18, 2009.
- 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.
- Ebert, Roger (June 18, 2004). "Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story". RogerEbert.com. Retrieved July 11, 2020.
- "'Dodgeball' Sequel in the Works at Fox (Exclusive)". TheHollywoodReporter.com. April 22, 2013. Retrieved July 15, 2013.
- Flint, Hanna (February 23, 2016). "EXCLUSIVE: Ben Stiller says there isn't a Dodgeball 2 in the works".
- Ihnat, Gwen (June 14, 2017). "The rival teams from Dodgeball reunite for charity in new video". The AV Club.
- "ESPN is creating ESPN8: 'The Ocho' for one glorious day". SB Nation. Retrieved August 18, 2017.
- Rosenthal, Phil. "'ESPN8: The Ocho' to replace ESPNU — if only for a day". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved August 28, 2017.
- 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.
- "ESPN is bringing back 'The Ocho'". SBNation.com. Retrieved August 16, 2018.
- "ESPN8 'The Ocho' is back, normally you have to pay double for that kind of action, Cotton". AL.com. March 19, 2020. Retrieved March 19, 2020.