Created By: omny87 on December 10, 2012 Last Edited By: omny87 on December 11, 2012

Paddleball Shot

When something in a 3-D film appears to reach out of the screen.

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A trope exclusive to 3-D movies. When making a film specifically for a 3D release, many filmmakers like to play with the 3D effects by making people and objects appear to reach out from the screen at the audience. More often then not it's simply done for its own sake to show off the 3D effects, but this can also be used to invoke a sense of danger, such as throwing sharp objects or driving cars right at the camera. The effect is unfortunately lost, however, when the film is eventually released on DVD in 2D, leaving viewers wondering why these characters enjoy shoving stuff into the camera so much.

Depending on one's personal preference towards 3D movies, it can be seen as either using the medium to its full potential, or just adding a gimmick onto another gimmick.


  • Trope Namer comes from the famous scene from House of Wax where a person playing with a paddle ball turns towards the camera and bounces it right at the audience.
  • Monsters vs. Aliens makes a shout-out to that same scene in the opening sequence with a man at a radio station also playing with a paddle-ball.
  • The Minions from Despicable Me deliberately do this in teasers for the film, with the first one having them try to see who can reach out the audience the farthest, and the second film's teaser involving a chorus of Minions singing a parody of "Barbara Ann" while blowing a noisemaker at the screen.
  • Ice Age: Continental Drift has several instances, especially in the scenes involving the pirates, where their weapons constantly being swung, thrown or thrust towards the audience.
  • Paddleball Shots are a staple of IMAX 3D films.
Community Feedback Replies: 6
  • December 10, 2012
    i would hardly call this breaking the fourth wall but over wise good idea

  • December 11, 2012
    Agreed. Breaking the Fourth Wall requires the actors know the audience is there, not just the animators. Ready to launch if you take the Fourth Wall bits out.
  • December 11, 2012
    • Parodied in a The Lenny Henry Show sketch in which one of two doomed men in the opening scene of a spoof horror film keeps waving his fishing pole around. The other guy asks him what he's doing, and he says he's making the most of the 3D effects (the sketch is not shot in 3D, although the pole behaves like a bad 3D effect).
  • December 11, 2012
    Possible page quote:

    "Did someone say cheap 3-D tricks?" --Fozzie Bear, Muppet Vision 3 D
  • December 11, 2012
    ^ To put the quote into context, Kermit had just assured the audience that they will not stoop to cheap 3-D tricks, which is Fozzie's cue to blow a noisemaker at the audience.
  • December 11, 2012
    I think I read an article in Wired on this suggesting that filmmakers should avoid this in favor of using 3D to improve the depth of field of their Scenery Porn, as in Avatar.