15 Trivia Tidbits About ‘Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story’

The movie Vince Vaughn so famously compared to ‘The Wizard of Oz’
15 Trivia Tidbits About ‘Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story’

In June 2004, a Steven Spielberg movie starring Tom Hanks got pummeled at the box office by a silly little comedy about grown-ups throwing balls at each other. Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story gave us one of Ben Stiller’s funniest (and grossest) characters, helped propel Justin Long’s career and even spawned an actual ESPN channel that celebrates bizarre and lesser-known sports like Corgi racing and something called Spikeball.

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It has recently been announced that a sequel is officially in the works. Naturally, we decided to strap on some spandex, recite the “Five D’s of Dodgeball,” and assemble this list of tidbits about the movie where practically everyone gets hit in the face by some balls — and the occasional wrench…

Peter La Fleur is Based on Bill Murray Movies

Writer and director Rawson Marshall Thurber told IGN that he wrote the character “as closely as I could get to Bill Murray from Stripes and Bill Murray from Ghostbusters.” He explained, however, that he had Vince Vaughn in mind even before he knew he could get the actor, and so he wrote with “Bill Murray in my ear and Vince Vaughn in my head.”

The Shame Sequence That Got Cut

On the movie’s commentary track, it’s revealed that during the final dodgeball game, when White Goodman (Stiller) hits Kate Veatch (Christine Taylor) after she was already eliminated, they shot an entire scene where a spotlight hits Goodman and a Shame Tribe boos him along with everyone in the crowd. The sequence was ultimately cut for pacing.

Gary Cole and Jason Bateman Shot Their Scenes in One Morning

Cole, who plays co-anchor Cotton McKnight alongside Bateman’s Pepper Brooks, said they shot all their scenes well before lunch. “I worked on that movie I think it was a total of five hours,” Cole said in a 2011 interview. “We were watching nothing in front of us. The camera was on us the whole time.”

The Traffic Scene Wasn’t Originally in the Script

When Thurber felt that the training montage scene had to be a bit longer, the studio agreed to pump in some extra money so they could shoot a sequence where Stephen Root’s character, Gordon, had to dodge him some cars.

Stiller Based His Character on One From His Sketch Show

Stiller told Film Monthly that he borrowed from different “people and elements” to create fitness nut White Goodman — including his character Tony Bobbins from The Ben Stiller Show. Thank goodness he didn’t keep those blinding white teeth.

He also, quite obviously, took a cue from his Heavyweights character, Tony Perkis.

The Line Vaughn Came Up With But Wanted Cut

The actor said that he originally came up with the line, “You had me at blood and semen,” but that he tried to get it cut from the movie. His reasoning was that his character, Peter La Fleur, would not have been so overly amped about the dodgeball plan that early in the film.

The Origin Story Behind ‘The Ocho’

In an interview with ESPN, Thurber explained how he came up with the fake ESPN channel: “At the time I was writing Dodgeball, ESPN2 had recently started, and they were calling it ‘The Deuce,’ and I found that particularly funny,” he explained. “And then, with any comedy, you just kind of take the knob and turn it all the way to 11. Where would ESPN broadcast something as ridiculous as dodgeball? It couldn’t be on ESPN 3, 4, 5, 6, or 7; it had to be ESPN 8. And then it had to be ‘The Ocho’ — it just kind of writes itself in that regard.”

Hank Azaria Went For a ‘Bad Clark Gable’ Impression

Playing a younger version of Rip Torn’s character, Patches O’Houlihan, Azaria said his interpretation was part Clark Gable done badly, part Torn when he was a young fella. “Someone liked it so much, in fact, that they said, ‘You know, it’d be funny if Rip tries to emulate that voice!,’” Azaria remembers. “I was, like, ‘Yeah, good luck walking up to Rip Torn and suggesting that he change his vocal quality in any manner. Let me know how that goes for you.’”

Chuck Norris Had No Idea About the Ending

Norris was flown in to shoot his bit as the judge who votes in favor of the dodgeball final after a forfeit was announced. He told Empire Online that he didn’t have time to read the full script and was very surprised when he finally saw the film. “When the movie comes out, we go see it. It’s cute, a little risqué in some areas,” Norris shared. “But in the end, when Ben’s a big fatty and watching TV, the last line of the whole movie is, ‘Fuckin’ Chuck Norris!’ My mouth fell open to here... I said, ‘Holy mackerel!’ That was a shock; Ben didn’t tell me about that!”

Vaughn Once Compared the Movie to ‘The Wizard of Oz’

Asked about what he thought made Dodgeball similar to the movie about tin men and green witches, Vaughn explained: “Yes, like that classic, we have some very exceptional characters here as well, so you needed somebody grounded in a form of reality to guide you through their world. So, like Dorothy, I was grounded enough to balance out the rest.”

Missi Pyle Based Fran on a Character in ‘50 First Dates’

Pyle told The A.V. Club that she went into her audition thinking about Alexa (Lusia Strus), the androgynous assistant of Henry (Adam Sandler) in 50 First Dates. “I had actually gone into the audition for that, and I remember thinking — I had been a small part of the movie 50 First Dates, and there’s a character in that that’s like a Russian with braids on top of her head,” Pyle recalled. “I can’t remember the character’s name, but I remember the actress, and she was really funny. I remember thinking, ‘Oh, I’m going to kind of do a take on that. I’ll put braids on my head.’ I drew on eyebrows and didn’t wear any makeup, just bright red lipstick. I think I drew a mole on. I didn’t run into anybody, but I walked through the door, and the casting assistant was like, ‘Oh my God.’”

’Galaxy Quest’ Landed Justin Long His Part

Thurber wrote the part of Justin with Long in mind because he thought the actor was hilarious in the movie where Missi Pyle sports another funny hairdo. “I went and saw Galaxy Quest, one of my favorite comedies in the 1990s. ‘Look around you. Can you fashion some sort of rudimentary lathe?’ That’s my favorite line! So when I saw Justin Long for the first time in this movie, he plays the geeky kid with the flat top. I don’t know if you’ve seen the movie, but anyway, he plays this really small role. And I just couldn’t stop laughing. I said, ‘Who the fuck is this kid? He’s amazing!’”

Christine Taylor Couldn’t Stop Laughing During the Courting Scene

Taylor admitted that the scene where White Goodman shows up at Kate’s house to try and woo her took around 20 takes to get right. “Ben was so committed to the character and the scene, but I just couldn’t stop laughing, especially at the mustache.”

The Cast Reunited to Do a Hilarious Charity Video in Character

In 2017, Stiller got the crew back together to promote a dodgeball event for the public to raise funds for The Stiller Foundation. The video is over four minutes long, featuring most of the original cast and Long once more getting hit by a wrench.

Alan Tudyk Was the Only Actor Who Didn’t Dress as a Pirate for His Audition

Tudyk (who plays Steve the Pirate) told IGN: “It was funny, all the other guys I was auditioning against — especially in the final call back — they were all dressed as pirates. I was not dressed as a pirate. I don’t get dressed up as the character to go audition. I wore kind of a colorful shirt, and that was about it. But there were all these guys with like gold teeth and deep, dark eyeliner and a patch and scarves and shit. I was like, ‘Aw, I didn’t do this right. I don’t even know what this is.’”

The actor continued, saying that he decided to simply tap into his improv skills. “One of the scenes was a scene that I don’t have any lines in,” he explained. “They said, ‘Oh, just react.’ And so I went ‘Arrrgghhh’ (like a pirate). And then there was some line thing where Vince had to say, ‘Does anybody have any other ideas?’ But he has a pause there, and I stood up and said, ‘We can harvest whales for oil.’”


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