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Directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber, Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story revolves around amiable underachiever Peter LaFleur (Vince Vaughn), whose rundown gym, Average Joe's, is populated by a less-than-average clientele including a self-styled pirate (Alan Tudyk), an ultra-obscure sports aficionado (Stephen Root), and a pining high school Nerd (Justin Long).
Despite Average Joe's posing little threat to Globo Gym, a fitness goliath owned by White Goodman (Ben Stiller), Peter's humble recreation center becomes a subject of much controversy when Goodman learns of his competition's less than meticulous bookkeeping. Determined to expand his empire, Goodman hires attorney Kate Veach (Christine Taylor) to initiate a hostile takeover of the gym. Peter's ragtag group of regulars, however, are less than thrilled with the prospects, and enter a Dodgeball tournament as a last-ditch effort to raise the fifty grand they need to keep the gym. However, Goodman enters his own Globo Gym team to try and beat the Average Joes. The film also features Missi Pyle and Rip Torn.
Tropes in this film:
- Actor Allusion: Ben Stiller plays a fitness-obsessed bad guy. Ben Stiller also played a fitness-obsessed bad guy in Heavyweights. Both are formerly obese.
- He also tries to awkwardly seduce his real life wife throughout the movie.
- Adam Westing: David Hasselhoff, Chuck Norris, and Lance Armstrong.
- All for Nothing: It almost looks like this was the case for Average Joe's in the match against Globo Gym, until a referee says that White stepped over the line in his throw, which allows the match to continue. Interestingly, an alternate ending on the DVD ends the movie right after Globo Gym appears to win.
- Alpha Bitch: Subverted big time with Amber, who is a genuinely nice person who is attracted to Justin and really likes him.
- Amoral Attorney: Averted, Kate falls for the lovable losers and eventually joins them.
- A Pirate 400 Years Too Late: Steve the Pirate.
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Peter's phone call from the video store. "The following videos are now overdue: Drunken Hussies 3, Backdoor Patrol 5, and Mona Lisa Smile."
- Babies Ever After: While only a supporting character, Amber is pregnant in the Average Joe's ad at the end of the movie.
- Berserk Button/Minor Injury Overreaction: "Nobody makes me bleed my own blood. Nobody!"
- Also Gordon seeing his mail-order bride with another man.
- Big Ol' Unibrow: Fran Stalinovskovichdavidovitchsky.
- Bi the Way: Kate. "I am not a lesbian. I'm bisexual!"
- Book Ends: The movie begins and ends the owner of a less-successful gym watching a commercial for a successful gym.
- Brawn Hilda: Fran.
- In the epilogue, she is shown to be substantially more attractive, though.
- Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs
White (introducing his team): "Blade... Laser... Blazer..."
- Later lampshaded by Dwight. "They've got Razor and Taser and all sorts of 'azer's!"
- Break the Cutie: "You are not a pirate!"
- Brick Joke: Peter tells Owen that there's a right person for everyone. Sometimes, there are two right people for one person; he calls that "The Jackpot." The ending suggests that Peter may end up with Kate and her girlfriend Joyce.
- I thought it was that Kate had it with her girlfriend and Peter?
- It's pretty minor, but apparently a few of the bondage enthusiasts decided to stick around and watch the tournament after switching uniforms with the Joes.
- Briefcase Full of Money: Mocked with Goodman's offer.
- Captain Obvious: When Peter blindfolds himself, the announcers are astute enough to note "Peter has blindfolded himself." "He's not going to be able to see very well." In fact, the announcers have several of these moments throughout the film, with Pepper usually being the prime suspect.
- Caught with Your Pants Down: Mi'chelle walks in on White trying to do something with a slice of pizza.
- Chekhov's Gun: For a quick-fire comedy film, Dodgeball is surprisingly well-scripted as a story. Every single significant plot point is foreshadowed in advance, from the obvious (Gordon quoting the exact double-fault-elimination rule that comes into play during the finale) to the ridiculous ("Man, she gotta be a lesbian.") to the subtle (White's throwaway boast that Globo Gym is worth "over four million dollars", which later confirms that Peter would have the funds to purchase a controlling stake with his $5 million win).
- Averted with the lawyer specializing in sexual harassment cases who doesn't sue the creep who sexually harasses her through a large part of the film.
- The Cheerleader: Played with; Justin is a male cheerleader and a nice guy and his cheerleader girlfriend is a total sweetheart but the (male) head cheerleader fits the evil, manipulative head cheerleader sterotype in every way except gender.
- The Chew Toy: Justin. None of the scripted dialogue could hope to be half as funny as seeing Justin Long get hit by a flying wrench. Or a ball, for that matter. Or a fat cheerleader's... pom-pom... His moment came in the finals by finally catching a dodge-ball and help bring back the two main players in the game, though his chew toy status is retained after his moment was over.
- Cloudcuckoolander: White Goodman shows occasional signs of this, as does color commentator Pepper Brooks ("I sure do like pumpkins, Cotton!"). But the prize-winners are Owen and Patches.
- And Steve the Pirate.
- Creator Cameo: Rawson Marshall Thurber as the guy who voices what he thinks of the Joe's in their bondage gear.
"Hey assholes! You guys suck!"
- Cuckoolander Commentator: Pepper Brooks.
- The Danza: Justin (Long).
- Dating Catwoman: Fran and Owen.
- Death by Irony: Lampshaded with Patches O'Houlihan's death by the "Luck o' the Irish" sign.
- Defictionalization: Several televised dodgeball tournaments based on an approximation of ADAA rules sprung up after this came out.
- One of which, GSN's Extreme Dodgeball, featured a Mooks from this film as one of its star players.
- Department of Redundancy Department: The American Dodgeball Association of America, as well as Patches' 5 Ds of Dodgeball: Dodge, Duck, Dip, Dive, and Dodge.
- Deus Ex Machina: Lampshaded. After Average Joe's wins the dodgeball tournament and Peter receives his betting winnings, the money is revealed in a treasure chest that reads 'Deus Ex Machina'.
- Also, Chuck Norris.
- Dirty Old Man: Patches.
- Dismotivation: Peter.
- Dodgeball Is Hell: The entire premise.
- Double Entendre: The motto(?) of the ADAA tournament, shown on a huge banner above the court, is "GO BALLS DEEP!"
- Enough involving balls, such as "It's time to put your mouth where our balls are!" that you will laugh every time someone says the word "balls".
- Near the beginning of the film, the Average Joe's gang goes to a Mexican cantina called "Dirty Sanchez's."
- Downer Ending: Originally, but test audiences disliked it, and it was changed.
- The creators have stated the "original" downer ending was a joke for the DVD. It just ends and doesn't go into any detail about what happened to the characters, if it wasn't a joke it was a terrible ending.
- Down to the Last Play
- The Dragon: Mi'chelle effectively plays this to White's Big Bad.
- Dropped a Bridge on Him: Patches literally dies from getting something dropped on him.
- Enforced Method Acting: Christine Taylor really got injured when she was hit by a dodgeball by her off-screen husband (who plays the baddie).
- Even though the wrench was made of rubber, it still hit Justin Long in the face, causing him to fall to the floor, crying in pain.
- Fan Service: The Dodgeball dancers.
- That's good, clean family fun right there.
- The cheerleading routine with Amber and Justin as well.
- That's good, clean family fun right there.
- Girl-On-Girl Is Hot: The finale.
- Girl Scouts Are Evil: One of the dodgeball teams.
- Girls with Moustaches: The Girl Scout who had been taking steroids.
- Happy Ending: The final cut, in contrast to the original conclusion, which tested poorly.
- Heel Face Turn: Fran, as a result of Owen. The ending shows her at Average Joe's.
- High Heel Face Turn: Fran was the only woman on White's team.
- Huge Schoolgirl: One of the Girl Scouts, as the result of numerous steroids.
- "I Know What We Can Do!" Cut: Subverted with Average Joe's trying a car wash to raise money.
- Improvised Training:
Patches: "If you can dodge a Wrench Whack, you can dodge a ball."
- Insane Troll Logic: How do you argue with anyone who claims "If you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball"?
- Instant Plunder, Just Add Pirates: Steve the Pirate.
- Ironic Echo: "Spare me" is said by both Peter in the beginning after watching Globo Gym's ad, and by White at the end after watching Average Joe's ad.
- Jerkass: White Goodman and how. A prime example of one of Ben Stiller's few non-Butt Monkey characters.
- Large Ham: Ben Stiller as White Goodman.
- Malaproper: White Goodman does this sometimes, along with having some trouble with spelling and metaphors.
- Mentor Occupational Hazard: Patches gets crushed by a falling sign before the final match. A sign that reads "The Luck o' the Irish!"
- Misfit Mobilization Moment: The training montage.
- No Bisexuals: A Running Gag throughout the movie is that everyone except Peter insists that Kate is a lesbian. Then at the end of the game she kisses another girl. Turns out she's still not a lesbian, though.
- Noodle Incident: The Helsinki episode of 1919, when the last double-fault final-play elimination occurred.
- The Obi-Wan: Patches is a deliberate subversion.
- On the Money
- Opposing Sports Team
- Precision F-Strike: Fat Goodman has one.
White Goodman: "Spare me... I won that tournament... fuckin' Chuck Norris!"
- Refuge in Audacity: Patches' character is completely built around this.
"Necessary? Is it necessary for me to drink my own urine? No, but I do it anyway because it's sterile and I like the taste."
- Save Our Team: Well, Save Our Gym anyway.
- Scary Black Man: Mi'chelle.
- Shallow Love Interest: Amber for Justin and even moreso Fran for Owen, but both are played for comedy.
- Shout-Out: The final matchup is the Average Joes' Gym versus White Goodman's Purple Cobras. You read it right. Joes vs Cobras.
- Spit Take: Justin's reaction to seeing Fran for the first time.
- Talk Like a Pirate: Steve!
- Take That: White Goodman gives one to the audience at the end of the credits.
- Took a Level In Badass: Upon seeing his Mail Order Bride getting flirted with in front of his children, Gordon hits the Berserk Button and in a Crowing Moment of Awesome wipes out the entire Poughkeepsie State Flying Cougars on his own with warrior cries and rapid precision strikes that have the other team cowering in fear.
- Totally Radical: "ESPN 8-The Ocho!"
- This is a reference to ESPN 2, which was originally referred to as "The Deuce".
- Trailers Always Spoil: The POSTER spoils Kate joining the Joe's team.
- Training From Hell: Patches O'Houlihan trains the team by tossing wrenches at them, making them run through traffic, a "pitching machine" that launches dodgeballs...
- "If you can dodge traffic, you can dodge a ball!"
- The Triple: Dodgeball announcer Cotton McKnight is good at these. "It's an event greater than The World Cup, World Series, and World War II combined!" and "Tomorrow we separate the men from the boys, the wheat from the chaff, and the awkwardly feminine from the possibly Canadian" — culminating in "Ladies and gentlemen, I have BEEN to the Great Wall of China, I have SEEN the Pyramids of Egypt ... I've even seen a grown man satisfy a camel!"
- True Companions: The Average Joe's regulars.
- Underdogs Never Lose: Supposedly this movie was going to be a subversion (making the subtitle A True Underdog Story a lot more meaningful), but due to negative test audience reactions, Underdogs Never Lose is played straight.
- Seeing as this "alternate ending" ends abruptly and has no character resolution, this was more than likely a joke.
- Whole-Plot Reference: This film surprisingly has a lot in common with the Sylvester Stallone film Over the Top. Examples include: main character entering a tournament for an obscure sport (dodgeball in this, arm wrestling in Over The Top) in Las Vegas, the grand prize being $50,000, the main character trying to win back an item (the gym in this, the custody of the main character's son in Over The Top), a scene where the hero and villain meet in a hotel room where the villain tries to get the hero to quit and a scene where the hero ponders on if to quit or keep going. Though it's never been mentioned by the director, you have to think that there was some inspiration.
- Probably because the film was also the subject of a somewhat successful copyright-infringement lawsuit by two writers of an unproduced screenplay about a dodgeball tournament with some interesting similarities as well. They were allowed to proceed because the judge found that they could make a credible argument that that the screenwriter of Dodgeball had seen their script.