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Film / DodgeBall: A True Underdog Story

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"If you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball."

Directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber, the 2004 comedy DodgeBall: A True Underdog Story revolves around amiable underachiever Peter LaFleur (Vince Vaughn), who owns a rundown gym called "Average Joe's" with a less-than-average clientèle, including a self-styled pirate (Alan Tudyk), an ultra-obscure sports aficionado (Stephen Root), and a pining high-school nerd (Justin Long).

Despite the gym posing little threat to Globo Gym, a fitness goliath run by White Goodman (Ben Stiller), Peter's humble recreation centre becomes a subject of much controversy when Goodman learns of his rival's less-than-meticulous bookkeeping. Determined to crush his rival and build a new parking area for Globo Gym, Goodman hires attorney Kate Veach (Christine Taylor) to initiate a hostile takeover of the gym.

However, not all hope is lost: if Peter and his ragtag group of regulars can raise the $50,000 needed to cover Peter's deficit payments, then Average Joe's will be saved from both the corporate and literal bulldozers. With little talent and a great deal of misplaced enthusiasm, their last hope rests in a national Dodgeball tournament with a cash prize of exactly $50,000. Unfortunately, Goodman learns of their plans and enters his own elite squadron, the Globo Gym Purple Cobras, into the tournament to take home the gold themselves and thwart their heart-warming underdog victory.

This film provides examples of:

  • '80s Hair: White's mullet is a classic invoked example, along with his horseshoe moustache. Coupled with his choice of clothing when trying to woo Kate, it marks him as a Disco Dan.
  • Abhorrent Admirer:
    • Martha Johnstone, the fat cheerleader from Justin's flashback. She immediately and shamelessly flirts with him when they met, much to his horror.
    • White Goodman to Kate, which is made funnier by the fact that the actors are married in real life.
  • Adam Westing:
    • David Hasselhoff is seen as an idol of the German dodgeball team. He later screams at them in German after they lose.
    • Chuck Norris comes in and solves a big problem with no effort. His name card at the judge's panel does not bear a "Mr." and simply reads "Chuck Norris."
    • Lance Armstrong inspires Peter to play in the final match by listing his biking accomplishments. Of course, this was before the doping scandal...
    • William Shatner overacts in his two scenes as the dodgeball commissioner.
  • Adoption Diss: After losing to the girl scouts team Troop 417, Peter lets one slip to them pulling a Wounded Gazelle Gambit on him to him.
    Peter: You're adopted. Your parents don't even love you.
  • The Alleged Car: Peter's car, which sputters from his home and can't even make it to Average Joe's without help from three bystanders.
  • All for Nothing:
    • The Wounded Gazelle Gambit pulled by the girl scouts who played against the Average Joe's means nothing when one of them fails the drug test and their team is disqualified.
    • 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" gag on the DVD ends the movie right after Globo Gym appears to win.
      Cotton: They came all this way for nothing! Absolutely nothing! [credits roll to somber music]
  • All Guys Want Cheerleaders: Played for laughs. Justin is in love with a cheerleader at his school - however, his response to try and win her over is to join the cheerleading team himself. It's subverted, however, that the cheerleader is clearly in love with him as well, but he's a little too geeky to actually realize this.
  • Alpha Bitch: Subverted with Amber, who is a genuinely nice person who is attracted to Justin and really likes him.
  • Ambiguous Time Period: Word of God has it that the movie was supposed to take place in the early 1990s (The Globo Gym ad from the opening scene notes that White was fat in 1987, which he states as being six years earlier, placing the film in 1993, though White is an idiot and could've gotten his math wrong), but the case of Anachronism Stew including Peter renting Mona Lisa Smile on DVD, as well as digital cable being in existence and Globo Gym's MacBooks, would suggest otherwise; it pretty much looks as if it could have been set in the present day. Lance Armstrong's cameo further disproves the aforementioned Word of God due to his statement of winning five consecutive (later stripped) Tour de France titles, setting the film between July 2003 and July 2004.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: A voicemail telling Peter he has three overdue video rentals: "Drunken Hussies 3, Backdoor Patrol 5, and Mona Lisa Smile."
  • Artistic License – Economics: In-universe, Owen proposes that they pay off the mortgage in Canadian dollars, presumably figuring the Canadian dollar is worth less. Peter informs him that they would need 70,000 Canadian dollars, and the guy despairs at the prospect of raising "$120,000"; Gordon corrects him, telling him he shouldn't have added the two numbers together (and at the then-current exchange rates, they'd need 73,313 Canadian dollars).
  • Artistic License – History: While the educational film on the history of dodgeball runs on Rule of Funny, dodgeball was not actually invented by opium addicted Chinese who threw severed heads at each other. It was invented by African tribes as a training exercise for their warriors, with rocks being used as the projectiles.
  • Babies Ever After: Amber is pregnant with Justin's child in the Average Joe's ad at the end of the movie.
  • Beauty Inversion: Missi Pyle is a very beautiful woman in real life but is made up to look like something of a real life Gonk in the movie with heavy prosthetics to make her as ugly as possible.
  • Beauty Is Bad: The Cobras are all athletic and (with a single exception) really, really ridiculously good-looking, and believe they are superior to people who aren't as good looking solely on the basis of their appearance.
  • Berserk Button: Gordon seeing his mail-order bride with another man.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Kate attacks White for harassing her at her home.
  • The Big Damn Kiss: Kate, first with her girlfriend, Joyce and then next with Peter.
  • Blasphemous Boast: Cotton describes the final matchup between Average Joe's and Globo Gym as "a David and Goliath story truer than the Bible itself."
  • Book Ends: The movie begins and ends with a commercial of a successful gym and the viewer looking like a slob and grumbling, "Spare me" with disdain. We also see a "six-year-old" picture of a morbidly obese White Goodman on Peter's TV at the beginning, and White watching Peter's ad on his own TV while getting his full figure back at the end.
  • Bowdlerise: The scene where Peter introduces the team to Patches, reassuring them that he's a normal guy. In the the theatrical cut, Patches says, "I love the smell of queef in the morning," to which Peter says "Well... normal for us." In televised versions, Patches doesn't say anything, but Peter still gives him faint praise, making it seem like the sight of an old man in a wheelchair is just as bizarre as a comment about queefs.
  • Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs:
    • Three of White's team mates are pretty interchangeable.
    White: [introducing his team] Blade... Laser... Blazer...
    • One of the suggestions made for the guys to come up with the money to save the gym is to sell their blood, and their semen, just not mixed together.
  • Bread Milk Eggs Squick: Straight man announcer Cotton McKnight tends to give a gross example in his triples.
    Cotton McKnight: Ladies and gentlemen, I have been to the Great Wall of China, I have seen the Pyramids of Egypt, I have even seen a grown man satisfy a camel!
  • Break the Cutie: Peter does this to Steve when he is at his moment of despair.
    Peter: 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.
    • A few of the bondage enthusiasts decided to stick around and watch the tournament after switching uniforms with the Joe's. They can be seen in the celebration at the end.
  • Briefcase Full of Money: Mocked with Goodman's offer, which is a single stack in a large case. The stack representing $100k is likely only $10k in $100's to further parody the effect.
  • Calling Your Shots: Gordon does this when he goes on his Unstoppable Rage rampage in the semi-finals. The opponent covers his face out of fear and Gordon nails him right in the groin.
  • The Cameo:
    • Hank Azaria briefly appears as a young Patches O'Houlihan.
    • Lance Armstrong giving his motivational speech to Peter, years before his doping came to light.
    • Chuck Norris appears as himself as one of the dodgeball judges.
    • Former Nickelodeon star Lori Beth Denberg briefly appears as the cheerleader who falls on Justin in his flashback.
    • William Shatner is the Dodgeball Chancellor.
    • David Hasselhoff appears as the coach berating the German team for losing to Average Joe's.
  • Captain Obvious: Pepper often has these remarks, especially when Peter blindfolds himself.
    Pepper: He's not going to be able to see very well.
  • Caught with Your Pants Down: Me'Shell 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).
    • For a specific tournament example, the Joe's team get their first break against their first opponent when one of them steps over the middle line and gets eliminated. That rule causes the double elimination against Globo Gym which invokes sudden death — unless you're watching the alternate ending.
    • 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. She'd have to sue her employer, as White is merely her bank's client, and the bank would be the one liable.
  • 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.
  • Cover Innocent Eyes and Ears: A botched package delivery mixes up the uniforms of Average Joe's and some bondage enthusiasts. Due to the strict rules, Average Joe's is forced to play their first match in S&M gear, and as soon as they enter the arena, a mother in the audience covers her child's eyes.
  • Creator Cameo: Director Rawson Marshall Thurber as the guy who voices what he thinks of the Joe's in their bondage gear. ("Hey assholes! You guys suck!") He also appeared later as the drive-by guy who pelts Steve the Pirate with a milkshake and yells at him to go back to Treasure Island.
  • Creepy Gym Coach: White fits the bill, though he doesn't work for a school like the typical example. To an extent, Patches as well, though most of his comments are simply the result of him being an older man and he doesn't actually do anything to anyone.
  • Cuckoolander Commentator: Pepper Brooks. Good lord, Pepper Brooks.
    Cotton McKnight: Folks, I'm being told that Average Joe's does not have enough players, and will be forfeiting the championship match.
    Pepper Brooks: It's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off for 'em.
  • Dating Catwoman: Fran and Owen are on opposing teams but sleep with each other before the final match.
  • Death by Irony: Lampshaded with Patches O'Houlihan's death by the "Luck o' the Irish" sign.
    Peter: Too bad Hallmark doesn't make a "Sorry your dodgeball coach got killed by two tons of irony" card.
  • Department of Redundancy Department:
    • The American Dodgeball Association of America.
    • Patches' 5 Ds of Dodgeball: Dodge, Duck, Dip, Dive, and Dodge.
    • White: "NOBODY makes me bleed my own blood!"
  • 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'.
    • Chuck Norris appear unexpectedly and gets the Joe's out of a jam.
  • Dirty Old Man:
    • Patches loves him some hookers.
    • Also, the creepy truck driver who keeps paying Justin to wash his truck so he can stare at him.
  • Dick Dastardly Stops to Cheat: As detailed under Fatal Flaw below, White would've been much better off if he didn't constantly try to sabotage the Joe's chances of winning.
  • Dismotivation: Peter feels that a goal is just the first step to disappointment, while Goodman takes an incredibly unhealthy approach to "personal improvement."
  • Disproportionate Retribution: White wants to tear down Average Joe's because Peter slept with three of his female trainers (in one night) and sent a male stripper-gram to him for the Globo Gym one year anniversary. That's on one level. When White details his ultimate plan to Peter, he adds that he would prefer that the Average Joe's crew was in the building when the demolition took place.
  • Disqualification-Induced Victory:
    • The Average Joe's have to win at least one game to qualify for the championships. However they suffer a humiliating defeat at the hands of some evil girlscouts. Fortunately, one of the scouts tests positive for steroids and beaver tranquilizersnote , so the Joe's win by default.
    • In the final match, White manages to take out Peter and win the match... but stepped over the line doing it. This counts as a foul and takes him out of the match, too, resulting in the Sudden Death tie breaker round. The DVD comes with an alternative ending where this doesn't happen and there's a Downer Ending.
    • Globo Gym comes very close to winning the final match by default due to there not being enough Average Joe's players to start the game, but they manage to fill out the team at the last second, and with Chuck Norris's help the game is allowed to go ahead.
  • Dodgeball Is Hell: The entire premise is this taken to parody levels.
  • Double Entendre:
    • The slogan of the ADAA tournament, shown on a huge banner above the court, is "GO BALLS DEEP!"
    • Peter implores Kate to join the team when she shows dodgeball prowess.
      Peter: It's time to put your mouth where our balls are.
    • Near the beginning of the film, the Average Joe's gang goes to a Mexican cantina called "Dirty Sanchez's."
  • Downer Ending: The creators had a joke "original ending" on the DVD that some took seriously. It just ends before the sudden death match, implying that The Bad Guy Wins, and doesn't go into any detail about what happened to the characters. If it wasn't a joke it would have been a terrible ending since it would have left many plot threads left dangling open as mentioned above in the Brick Joke and Foreshadowing sections. There are rumors the Joe's were originally intended to lose but Executive Meddling put a stop to it, making the DVD extra a bit of Writer Revolt.
  • Down to the Last Play: It comes down to a Sudden Death tiebreaker between Peter and White.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: Patches literally dies from getting something dropped on him.
  • Establishing Character Moment:
    • You learn pretty much everything you need to know about White in the opening Globo Gym infomercial: he presides over an entire chain of highly successful and modern gyms, is wealthy as a result, and shames the viewers for not being fit like he is.
    • Peter gets one too, basically showing him to be White's complete opposite: being somewhat of a slob, going broke, but he takes time to talk to all his gym's members and doesn't mock them for their oddities.
  • Evil, Inc.: Globo Gym. Hell, their company slogan is "We're better than you, and we know it."
  • Failure Gambit: Before the final playoff between Average Joe's and Globo Gym, Peter signs over ownership of the Average Joe's gym to White after being bribed with $100,000. Even though Average Joe's win the game, White boasts that Peter has nothing now that his gym has been absorbed by Globo Gym. However, Peter has bet the $100,000 bribe on Average Joe's victory. Between the millions of gambling profit and the $50,000 prize money, Peter is able to invest in and gain control of Globo Gym which, as a publicly-owned company, White can do nothing about. How long Peter was planning this scheme is debatable.
    • Pepper Brooks thinks that Average Joe's forfeiting the match against Globo Gym is one of these. ("It's a bold strategy Cotton...")
  • Fan Disservice:
    • The scene after the end credits involves a now obese White toying with his chest as if they were breasts.
    • Peter and the Average Joe's crew try hosting a car wash like the women's car wash before them, in swim trunks, shirtless and all. It doesn't pan out well as they expected.
    • Fran and Owen French-kissing after the Average Joe's dodgeball tournament win.
  • Fanservice:
  • Fanservice Car Wash: When Pete suggests a car wash to raise finds to keep his "Average Joe's" gym open, the scene cuts so some bikini-clad girls washing cars, and then shows Pete and the guys standing across the street sadly leering at them. They then mention about how their only customer is a creepy looking redneck that forces the teenage Justin to wash his truck, while under the watchful eye of his pitbull.
  • Fatal Flaw: White is much more fit than Peter, but he's also far, far dumber, and repeatedly interferes when he really shouldn't.
    • When he learns that the Joe's are entering the tournament to win the money needed to buy out the mortgage, he opts to put his own horse in the race to try and sabotage their chances, despite the Joe's having a pretty low chance of winning due to how out-of-shape and inexperienced they all are. He's entirely motivated by petty spite and it leaves him open later on.
    • His choice to humiliate the average joes at the bar is what attracts Patches O'Houlihan to them, and without his coaching the Joes would have had no hope of winning.
    • When the Joe's attempt to recruit Kate to their team, White tries to woo her... and begins the process by getting her fired from her bank job so she can't make any sexual harassment claims against him. Not only was this completely unnecessary since Kate already turned them down due to a professional conflict of interest, but now Kate has no job and every reason to see White lose, giving the Joe's The Ace they need to advance through the tournament.
    • He then proceeds to offer Peter $100,000 to buy out Average Joe's directly, just before the final match. It doesn't occur to White that the tournament is taking place in Vegas, and thus there's a huge betting pool on the bracket. So, Peter takes the money, bets it all on his team winning, and then buys out Globo Gym when they do. White simply could have done nothing the entire film, and the worst-case scenario is that he simply has to put up with having Average Joe's next door. Instead, he lets his hatred for Peter cloud his judgment, and ends up losing the tournament, the gym, and his financial and physical health.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • During one conversation with Peter, White arrogantly says "My gym has shareholders! You don't even have...cup holders!" implying that Globo Gym is a publicly traded company that's actually owned by investors, not privately owned by him. This proves to be pretty important to resolving the plot, when Peter manages to take back Average Joe's by buying most of Globo Gym's shares.
    • And there's Peter's claim early in the movie that there's someone for everyone, and in some really lucky cases, there are two someones for one person. By the end of the movie, he's dating Kate and her (also bisexual) girlfriend.
  • Gang of Hats: The dodgeball teams that Average Joe's and Globo Gym compete against include a team of Girl Scouts (who play in full uniform), a team of German bodybuilders, a team of lumberjacks, a team of break-dancers, and a team of Japanese martial artists who play in mawashi. Hilariously, Average Joe's unintentionally becomes one when a botched package delivery forces them to play their first match wearing S&M gear.
  • Gaydar: Pretty much every male character in the movie instantly recognises that Kate is into other women.
  • The Generation Gap: Peter acknowledges this to be the case when Justin explains he's getting in shape for cheerleader tryouts:
    Peter: Hang on a second. You wanna become a cheerleader to prove you are not a loser?
    Justin: Yeah. What?
    Peter: Nothing, it's just that high school's changed a lot since I was a kid.
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff: In-Universe and applied literally here. The German team gathers around a picture of David Hasselhoff before their match, after their match they're scolded for their defeat by their coach, David Hasselhoff!
  • Girl on Girl Is Hot: The finale involves a quick look at Kate making out with her girlfriend which has Peter and Dwight raise their eyebrows.
    Dwight: Dude, I told you she was a lesbian!
    Peter: Wow. Good call!
  • Girl Scouts Are Evil: One of the dodgeball teams are Girl Scouts that use some pretty underhanded tactics.
  • Girls with Moustaches: The Girl Scout who had been taking steroids.
  • Going Commando: At the cheerleader tryouts, Justin is assigned a very large cheerleader who informs him she isn't wearing panties.
  • Groin Attack: The Average Joe team always gets hit in the groin with the dodgeballs.
  • Happy Ending: The real cut of the film, in contrast to the "original conclusion" on the DVD (which was a joke).
  • Happy-Ending Massage: This is how Cotton describes Vegas.
    Cotton: ...a city where you can get a happy ending, but only if you pay a little extra.
  • High-Heel–Face Turn: Fran, as a result of Owen. The ending shows her at Average Joe's.
  • Hourglass Plot: The movie starts with White starring a Globo Gym ad on TV and Peter watching it and ends with Peter starring an Average Joe's Gym ad on TV and White watching it.
  • Huge Schoolgirl: One of the Girl Scouts, as the result of numerous steroids. And a low-grade beaver tranquilizer.
  • Hypocritical Humor: White had Kate fired so he'd be able to go out with her. But when Kate punched him, making him bleed from his nose, he tells her it's over between them.
    White: Nobody makes me bleed my own blood.
  • "I Know What We Can Do" Cut: Subverted with Average Joe's trying a car wash to raise money. It turns out they are completely outclassed by another car wash happening across the street.
    Owen: I know what we can do... car wash!
    Steve: [pirate laugh with a point of approval]
    [cut to a group of ladies in bikinis washing cars suggestively]
    [cut to an almost-empty parking lot with the Joe's standing next to a sign saying "Car Wash! All Male!"]
  • Insane Troll Logic: How do you argue with anyone who claims, "If you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball"? And if you do argue with such a man, you promptly get a wrench thrown at you.
    • Also defines White Goodman's attempts to 'woo' Kate by getting her fired by accusing her of drinking on the job and stealing, reasoning that this removes her excuse that she isn't allowed to date her 'boss'.
  • 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.
    • Sometime after the beginning of the film, White tells Peter that he will soon acquire his gym and there is nothing he can do about it; it comes back near the end when Kate told White that Globo Gym was a publicly traded company and said the same thing to him that there is nothing he can do about it.
  • Ironic Name: You wouldn't expect somebody with the surname "Goodman" to be such a prick.
  • Jerkass: White Goodman and how. A prime example of one of Ben Stiller's few non-Butt-Monkey characters.
  • Jerk Jock: White, and damn near everyone else at Globo Gym, for that matter. Derek the head cheerleader could count too.
  • Kick the Dog: Early in the film, White orders one of his workers to manually increase the women's scales by 3 pounds.
  • Large Ham: Ben Stiller as White Goodman puts on a ridiculous tough guy accent and overacts for effect.
  • Laser-Guided Karma:
    • White Goodman gets struck by this at the end of the movie when he ends up broke and obese after making a fortune running a gym.
    • Deleted scenes also have Gordon asking for a divorce from his unfaithful mail-order bride, and Derek the jackass cheerleader trapped in a full-body cast, cursing Justin out as the latter fills in for him at the cheerleader competition.
  • The Last Of These Is Not Like The Others:
    • Peter's phone call from the video store. "The following videos are now overdue: Drunken Hussies 3, Backdoor Patrol 5, and Mona Lisa Smile."
    • Cotton's The Triple always ends with something completely off topic.
  • Light Is Not Good: Despite his name, White Goodman is a colossal douchebag.
  • Longing Look: After her Heroic Sacrifice to save Peter from being hit by the opposing team, Peter and Kate share a long gaze at each other. This causes White to become jealous and angrily hit her in the face with a dodgeball.
  • Love at First Sight: Owen is smitten with Fran the moment he meets her when White introduces Globo Gym's dodgeball team to Average Joe's.
  • Majority-Share Dictator: Peter buys Globo Gym's controlling stake using the $5 million his team won. He is then able to totally remodel the gym while the CEO he fired eats himself back to into obesity.
  • Malaproper: White Goodman does this sometimes, along with having some trouble with spelling and metaphors.
    White: I wouldn't sell you your gym back for all of King Midas' silver.
  • Mentor Occupational Hazard: Patches gets crushed by a falling sign before the final match. A sign that reads "The Luck o' the Irish!"
  • Meta Guy: In the post-credits scene, White rants about how the American cinema prefers happy endings instead of more complex outcomes.
    White: Yeah, hope you're all happy now. Good guy wins, bad guy loses. Big friggin' surprise. I love happy endings. Y'know, that's the problem with the American cinema. Can't handle any complexity in it, y'know? "Don't make me think, I just wanna be entertained."
  • Misfit Mobilization Moment: The training montage gets all of the kooky characters from the Joe's into appropriate dodgeball shape.
  • Narcissist: White Goodman sets up his office to be a shrine to himself.
  • Never My Fault: White, for his obsession to beat Average Joe's is what got him to lose at the end. Instead, he blames Chuck Norris.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain:
    • While training the team, Pete sees that Kate has a strong throw, and lobbies her to join his team. Kate rebuffs him, explaining that since she's working for the bank that's trying to foreclose on his gym and sell it to Globo Gym, it would be a conflict of interest for her to join. Then White Goodman, wanting to romance her (despite her having zero interest in White), arranges for her to get fired so that he can pursue her without being accused of sexual harassment. Suddenly, Kate no longer has a conflict of interest (not to mention a LOT of motive) to join the Average Joe's.
    • Furthermore, White's attempt to bribe Peter and buy Average Joe's out from underneath him backfires spectacularly when it gives Peter the money he eventually turns into a controlling stake in Globo Gym.
  • 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.
    Cotton McKnight: ...and I think we all know how that ended.
  • Of Corsets Sexy: Kate wears a corset with her outfit after she and The Average Joe's team outfits get swapped with another team's bondage gear.
  • Offscreen Karma: Derek the male cheerleader is a complete asshole to Justin (and is implied to have sabotaged his previous cheerleading tryout, possibly because of his obvious crush on Amber). His wanting to ride a rollercoaster ends up with him falling off it and having broken every bone in his body (resulting in Justin having to sub for him during the cheerleading competition), vindicating Dwight's comment from earlier. (It would've been averted had one of the deleted scenes been kept in, showing Derek within a full body cast, cursing Justin out and screaming.)
  • Off the Wagon: It's established at the beginning of the film that White Goodman is Formerly Fat. After the end of the tournament, he apparently goes back to binge-eating, going so far as to steal a hot dog from a spectator as he storms off the court. You get to see him in all his obese glory in The Stinger.
  • Only Sane Man: This is Peter's role, as he's relatively well-adjusted compared to the rest of the Average Joe's crew. Dwight too, though he's basically the only sane person among the regulars.
  • Overly Narrow Superlative: White claims that Fran is the deadliest woman in the world... with a dodgeball.
  • A Pirate 400 Years Too Late: Steve the Pirate, obviously.
  • Pom-Pom Girl: Many. One of the main characters, Justin, is on a pom squad, dates someone else likewise, and many scenes involve their training and routines.
  • Precision F-Strike: Fat Goodman has one.
    White Goodman: Spare me... I won that tournament... Fuckin' Chuck Norris!
  • Product Placement: The dodgeball tournament floor is filled with ads for sponsors like Lumber Liquidators, XM Satellite Radio, Dodge Cars and Marriott hotels. Truth in Television, since practically all sporting events have ads like this. There's also lots of signage for Fox Sports Net both at the dodgeball tournament and the cheerleading event.
  • Rag Tag Bunch Of Misfits: It's a collection of random, quirky dudes and a female attorney vs. a bunch of fitness buffs.
  • Relationship Reveal: At the end of the film, Kate's girlfriend Joyce shows up from her trip and they share a kiss, shocking everyone.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: The Dodgeball Chancellor is sympathetic to the Joe's when they don't have enough players, but can't break the rules to let them play. However, when Peter shows up, the Chancellor acquiesces to an obscure bylaw in which the judges can determine if they can play, which they do. He's also irritated with White's complete lack of good sportsmanship.
  • Refuge in Audacity: Patches' character is completely built around this.
    Patches: Necessary? Is it necessary for me to drink my own urine?
    Peter: Probably not.
    Patches: No, but I do it anyway because it's sterile and I like the taste.
  • Rule of Three: The quarterfinals are (according to Cotton) "where we sort the wheat from the chaff, the men from the boys, and the awkwardly feminine from the possibly Canadian."
  • Running Gag: Patches calling Kate various permutations of 'lesbian' after she joined the team.
  • Save Our Team: Well, Save Our Gym anyway.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!: White gets his team into the tournament by calling in a favor from the Dodgeball Chancellor.
  • Serious Business: Dodgeball, in this universe. There is a $50,000 annual tournament. It attracts, at least, Germans and Japanese people. One of the teams was 'Inner City' champs for consecutive years. Chuck Norris is on the panel to decide whether Average Joe's gets to play the final round. It is taken as seriously as a P.E. exercise can be.
  • Ship Tease:
    • Peter and Kate sharing a long glance with one another after Kate allows herself to get hit by a Dodgeball meant for Peter.
    • Fran and Owen talking with one another and freezing on the field when they're each about to strike the other with a Dodgeball.
  • Shoo Out the Clowns: After reaching the Despair Event Horizon due to Patches' death, Peter angrily tells Steve he's not a pirate, causing the latter to abandon the team in shame. By the time he returns, Average Joe's has already won the tournament.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The final matchup is the Average Joe's Gym versus White Goodman's Purple Cobras. You read it right. Joe's vs Cobras.
    • A more subtle Shout-Out occurs at the start of the Cobras vs. Kamikazes highlight clip. The team logos shown are a cobra and a bonsai tree, which are the tournament logos for the Cobra Kai dojo and Daniel LaRusso from The Karate Kid (1984).
    • "NOBODY makes me bleed my own blood!"
    • When Gordon finally gets angry while seeing his mail order bride explicitly flirting with another man, Stephen Root lets out a primal growl that sounds exactly like the "Billdozer" growl that he used playing the character Bill Dauterive in King of the Hill. The characters he plays even have similar temperaments (mostly mild and meek, but when angry, absolutely frightening).
  • Small Role, Big Impact:
    • Played for Laughs with Chuck Norris and his unexpected cameo. He's in the movie for less than a minute, but his intervention ensures that Average Joe's is able to enter the final round. Lampshaded by White at the end: his last line (and the last line of the movie) is "Fucking Chuck Norris!"
  • Spit Take: Justin's reaction to seeing Fran for the first time.
  • The Stinger: White, still bitter about having lost everything as well as having turned into a slob, heckles the audience about the circumstances of his loss before insulting them by singing "Milkshake." He concludes the movie by saying "You happy? Fatty make a funny?"
  • Surprisingly Sudden Death: Patches has a giant sign drop on him while the team tours a casino, with zero foreshadowing of such beforehand.
  • Take a Third Option: Before their match, Goodman, confident that he'll beat Peter, offers him a Briefcase Full of Money to sell him Average Joe's instead. He takes the money, but then is inspired to use it to bet on his team to win, using the winnings to buy a controlling share in Globo Gym and steal it right out from under Goodman.
  • Take That!: White Goodman gives one to the audience at the end of the credits when he complains about the contrivances that caused him to lose.
  • Taking the Bullet: Kate makes a diving save to protect Peter from getting hit in the final match. This angers White so much that he beans her in the face after.
  • Talking Is a Free Action: Subverted. Owen and Fran have a romantic face to face during the final match. Both of their teams take the opportunity to hit the opposition with balls and eliminate them from the match.
    Cotton: I don't know what that was about, but it leaves Joe's on the wrong side of a 4-2 advantage.
  • Tempting Fate: Peter remarks that, "As long as we have Patches, we've got a shot (at beating Globo Gym)." Cue Patches getting crushed to death with a "Luck of the Irish" sign.
  • Threesome Subtext: Peter gets together with both Kate and her girlfriend at the end. As he calls it, a "two-for-one jackpot".
  • 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. And then in a deleted scene, hugs his two children and tells his Mail-Order Bride that he wants a divorce when she tries to act like she always believed in him.
  • Totally Radical: "ESPN 8-The Ocho!" This is a reference to ESPN 2, which was originally referred to as "The Deuce" and focused on more obscure sports (before becoming more straight-laced and carrying major events). Pepper Brooks may also be a reference to how shows on ESPN 2 were more informal and hosted by younger people during this time.
  • 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...
    Patches: 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 witnessed a grown man satisfy a camel!"
  • True Companions: The Average Joe's regulars are a group of weirdos, but they see each other through some tough times.
  • Underdogs Never Lose: The creators used a subversion of the trope in an alternate ending (making the subtitle A True Underdog Story a lot more meaningful), but the "alternate ending" ends abruptly and has no character resolution and was nothing more than just a joke.
  • Unusual Euphemism: White has one of these when loses control of his anger and appetite.
    White: You're going down like a sweet muffin!
  • Unstoppable Rage: Four words from Patches to Gordon.
    Patches: You gotta get ANGRY!
    [Gordon becomes furious at the sight of his mail-order bride flirting with another man and wipes the floor with the opposing team]
  • Villainous Breakdown: White suffers a major one when he realizes what Pete intends to do with his winnings from betting on the final.
    White: Stick it in your ear, LaFleur. I wouldn't sell you your gym back for all of King Midas' silver. The gym is mine! So you can take your band of yellow-bellied losers and just crawl on outta here!
    Peter: You're right, White. I can't make you sell Average Joe's back to me, so I guess I'll just take your advice and invest in something. Like say... the controlling stake of Globo Gym.
    White: That's preposterous! I'd never allow it.
    Kate: Globo Gym is a publicly-traded company; there's nothing you can do about it.
    Peter: So, I would control Globo Gym and... everything that Globo Gym owns. Which as of last night is Average Joe's Gym! [the Average Joe's team starts cheering. White looks livid] I'm your new boss, White!
    White: You can't be my boss! Nobody's my boss! I'm my own boss! I created myself!
    Peter: You're fired, pal.
    White: You can't do this to me! You're going down, LaFleur! You're going down like a sweet muffin!
  • Vomit Discretion Shot: After being hit on by White Goodman, Kate vomits a little in her mouth. White's comment about how in some cultures people ingest their own vomit doesn't help ease her nausea toward him either.
  • What, Exactly, Is His Job?: Sort-of averted. Dwight and Owen are explicitly shown to work at Average Joe's, while Justin is a high-school kid. Gordon, on the other hand, spends a lot of time at AJ's but seems to have some sort of white-collar office job, if his attire at the bar is any indication. Steve, however, is a complete mystery, though it's suggested he may not have a reliable source of income given how he persuades Peter not to bill him fees at the start of the film. (Which would also make him a pirate who doesn't do anything.)
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Gordon sees his Mail-Order Bride flirting with another man, and she's never seen again. In a deleted scene, after she congratulates him on the win, he says he wants a divorce on the spot, much to the delight of his kids.
  • 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 the screenwriter of Dodgeball had seen their script.
  • Would Hurt a Child:
    • At the end of the movie, White Goodman pushes a child out of his way and steals the child's hot-dog.
    • A Girl scout member of a dodgeball team tries to invoke this trope to their team's advantage against Peter. It worked.
      Girl Scout: [tearfully] Why would you hit a girl? Why?
      Peter: I am so sorry! I—
      [Peter gets hit with a dodgeball, the girl scout gets up, unharmed, and sticks her tongue out at Peter]
  • Wounded Gazelle Gambit: The girl scout hit by Peter pulled one to distract him while the other girls hit him. It worked but it was All for Nothing since her team was disqualified.
  • Wrench Whack: This is one of the obstacles that Patches gives the crew during their Training from Hell.
    Patches: If you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball.
    Justin: Wha?
    [Justin is hit in the face with a wrench]

Alternative Title(s): Dodgeball



When Patches first meets the team.

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