Prayer Focus
Movie Review

Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story

MPAA Rating: PG-13-Rating (MPAA) for rude and sexual humor, and language

Reviewed by: Chris Monroe

Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adults Teens
1 hr. 32 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
June 18, 2004
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Featuring: Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Christine Taylor, Jason Bateman, Rip Torn
Director: Rawson Marshall Thurber
Producer: Stuart Cornfeld, Ben Stiller
Distributor: 20th Century Fox

Going onto court and taking on a game with Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story, prepare to be pelted, pummeled and pounded with humor, but ready to dodge the crassness it will throw at you as well. A unique backdrop and usual plot, this movie is sopping with slapstick comedy and sordid silliness. Written and directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber and produced by Ben Stiller, this movie carries with it some of the same sportsmanship as Ben Stiller’s outlandish Zoolander.

Peter (Vince Vaughn) owns and operates Average Joe’s Gym, and due to negligence with his taxes, is about to lose his business. With only thirty days to come up with fifty thousand dollars, Peter and his other misfit friends decide to compete in a dodgeball competition where they can win the money. Besides overcoming their own shortcomings, they find their greatest competition with White Goodman (Ben Stiller) and his superiorly brawny crew at the high-powered Globo Gym across the street.

Playing against their usual types, Ben Stiller has been cast as the overly cocky, narcissistic, super-workout master and Vince Vaughn as the “average joe” type whom we like and can relate to. But keeping with his usual style, Stiller’s comedy rightfully lies in the fact that his character takes himself way too seriously. His character is fantastically adorned with the sleekest spandex, feathered hair and extreme arrogance to boot. As one of the commentators mentions during the final dodgeball competition, the story is much like a kind of David and Goliath showdown. Vaughn is the one whom we identify with and sympathize as he struggles to do the right thing.

The sporty feel to the whole movie and slapstick humor is entertaining. Many laughs can be had at some of the embellished, almost cartoon antics of it all. For example, when the average joe guys get a coach (Rip Torn), he trains them to dodge balls by first throwing wrenches at them. One guy he hits in the head. It’s so unexpected, but hilarious as it catches us of guard. The sound effects during the dodgeball games, and the fact that nearly everyone who is hit with a ball falls down, is also a bit far-fetched. But it all adds to the fun and hilarity of it all.

Some things to know before seeing the film is that there are crass jokes scattered throughout the movie. A lot of them are sexual and some are just plain crude. Most of them come from the average joe team’s gruff coach who delivers them in one-liners. There are also a few foul words and a surprising moment at the end where we discover somebody is a bisexual. Another event involves a mix-up of the team’s costumes with them wearing sadomasochistic outfits for one game. The sport commentators make a few references to these costumes while they play. The opening shot and a couple of other moments, too, highlight cheerleaders dancing and focus on their bottoms.

One idea this film clearly portrays has to do with pride. The bible talks extensively about it and its repercussions. White Goodman is clearly full of pride, while Peter is the humble “average joe.” Some biblical principals that are supported throughout this story are that, for one, pride comes before a fall. Expectantly, we see White lose—which is played out even at the very end of the credits. Also, Jesus said that he who exalts himself will be humbled, while he who humbles himself will be exalted. Obviously White suffers from his pride, but interestingly, we see the “average joe” guys humble themselves and work on their weaknesses, thereby becoming better by the end. Paul also stated that God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.

If you like physical humor, you could be in for some real belly laughs, but the raunchy humor can spoil the experience. The production value was nothing extraordinary, but very well done. They really have fun with some of the slow motion shots and exaggerated dodgeball playing. What was even more fun was the label on the box of money at the end that says “deus ex machina”—Greek for “machine of the gods”—referencing the Greek tragedy device, which is obviously being used at that moment.

Violence: Minor / Profanity: Moderate / Sex/Nudity: Mild

Here’s what the distributor says about their film: “A small local gym is threatened with extinction by a gleaming sports and fitness palace unless a group of social rejects can rise to victory in the ultimate dodge ball competition.”

Viewer Comments
Negative—Besides having a poor plot, my main objection to this movie is concerning the half-naked women who are shown throughout the entire movie. Matthew 5:28 reads, “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” It is nearly impossible for a man to view this movie without facing constant temptation. Sexual innuendo and drug references are abound. At the end of the movie two high schoolers show off their pregnancy that resulted from premarital sex. There is no reason to see this movie.
My Ratings: [Very Offensive/3]
Cherie, age 23
Negative—I feel this movie is inappropriate for any age. It is vulgar. Homosexuality and bi-sexuality are the accepted norm. Sex and bondage is spoken of and accepted. I mostly would like to let parents know how females are exploited in this movie. Within the first 5 minutes of the movie, we are introduced to the “fat girl” who is trying out for the cheerleading squad. She was portrayed as being ugly and empty headed. As the scene continues, she is hoisted up by a male cheerleader much smaller than she. This ends in disaster when he can no longer hold her up. She falls on top of him, spread eagle, and the rest is so disgusting I cannot bring myself to write it. From the moment she is introduced, I hear rip-roaring laughter and crude remarks from people sitting all around me. What message is given to girls who are overweight? I’ll tell you …“You’re ugly, disgusting, gross.” And the message to all girls …“Your value is based on the size of your body.” These messages are being given to girls from age 11 and up. Do we want our precious girls to believe this garbage? Do we want our boys to believe that a woman’s worth is based solely on her body?

Proverbs 31:10-31 describes what a beautiful girl/woman is and there is not one mention of the size of her body. In another scene, we see women working at a car wash. They are dressed in bikinis and use their breasts to wash the windshield as the male owner of the car watches with lust. The message of the “underdog coming out on top” is lost in the midst of vulgarities, and I have only described a few. I recommend this movie for the trash can.
My Ratings: [Extremely Offensive/2]
Elaine H. Blackwell, age 43
Negative—My husband and I were terribly disappointed in this movie. There were so many sexual innuendos we lost count. I would be mortified if my teenage son/daughter saw this. Please save your time and money and invest it in something else.
My Ratings: [Extremely Offensive/2½]
Lori, age 30
Positive—My whole family loved this. It’s very very funny. I’d keep younger kids home because of the coaches Potty mouth though, also hitting people with wrenches doesn’t set a very good example. This is the classic root for the underdog story, and basically the mean people get what’s coming to them. Ben Stiller is always a treat, and so is this movie. There’s a great twist ending that might upset some super-conservatives… but any open-minded individual with a sense of humor should appreciate it.
My Ratings: [Better than Average/5]
Kat, age 18
Neutral—Just like the world today, “there’s something for everyone”—slapstick comedy, funny/crude/sexual jokes, star cameos, etc. You’ll need some maturity and discretion when viewing this movie. Plenty of inside jokes, but to further comment on “deus ex machina,” it’s also a method used in stage plays as “the fairy tale ending.”
My Ratings: [Average/3½]
C. Ng, age 26
Negative—What looks to be a very funny movie from the outside, turns out to be very predictable and dull. There are a few humorous spots. However, there was too much sexual innuendo for my tastes. From Ben Stiller simulating masturbation with a slice of pizza, to the completely unnecessary display of homosexuality and bisexuality at the end of the movie, I could never recommend that anyone allow their children to watch this film.
My Ratings: [Very Offensive/2]
Hollis, age 36
Negative—While some very funny lines find their way out in this film, I’m not sure it’s worth it. This movie’s main themes are: degradation with a hint of redemption, absurdity, and sexual perversion. I enjoyed the absurdity—for example, a contemporary man who thinks he is a pirate and lives like one and his teammate who was clueless that this was the case even though they were around each other seemingly every day. The physical humor (mentioned above as degradation)--using power to dominate the weaker and enjoying the pain of others—was certainly celebrated, which is without question opposed to everything of the Trinitarian God of Scriptures (preach good news to the poor, bind up the broken hearted, heal the sick, protect widows and orphans).

The most surprising was the sexual perversion. Most comments were off the cuff.

For example, Stiller plays a character, White, that is totally self-obsessed and given over to pride and lust. At one point his assistant Me-Shell, which is another story, walks in on White in some form of masturbation using pizza slices. Also, there is certainly some legitimacy given to deviant behaviors and lifestyles, such as S&M and bisexuality. In the end the underdog wins, which is always satisfying. Overall, I was disappointed in this film and found it grieved the Spirit. I wish I had read a review beforehand.
My Ratings: [Very Offensive/2]
Sam Meyer, age 25
Negative—The humor in this movie is not worth paying for. Ben Stiller does have his comical moments, but the sexual references, especially in the last few minutes of the movie left me feeling disgusted and sorry I had watched it. I would not recommend this movie to any Christian family as I would not want my children subjected to a positive spin on sexual immorality.
My Ratings: [Very Offensive/3]
Nichole Calkins, age 24
Negative—The sexual content could not be classified as innuendo in this movie; it was too blatant. Sure, there were no sex scenes, however, there was plenty of reference to every sort of sinful sexual act a human could possibly perform, from the “usual” heterosexual fornication, to the unusual: beastiality, homosexuality, sadomasicism, and, to tie it all up, the lead female proudly proclaiming, “I’m not lesbian; I’m bi-sexual!” after sharing a kiss with her partner. The few funny moments of this flick (i.e. the dodge-ball training) did not redeem the rest. I would not recommend this film to any Christian trying to please God.
My Ratings: [Very Offensive/3]
Sondra Shields, age 27
Positive—I thought this movie was well done, and had very little innuendo, and was better than I expected of the actors. I went to see it with my 15 year old son, and thought it was appropriate enough for him. I suggest no one under 10 though.
My Ratings: [Better than Average/4]
George Langhburg, age 41
Negative—I found this film to be very offensive most of the way through. There are many sexual references throughout. They truly became sickening. Just about the time I thought it could not get any worse, the female on the Average Joe’s team revealed that she was bisexual and proved it. The few cameo appearances by well known actors did not outweigh the crude sexual humor throughout. I would not recommend this film to anyone.
My Ratings: [Very Offensive/3]
Donna Neal, age 48
Negative—I wasn’t sure whether or not to see this movie, but now I know I shouldn’t have. The movie started out with about 5 different girls wearing tiny tight Spandex. Then all throughout the movie there’s obscenities, sexual innuendo, and just outright perverted humor. It’s just funny enough to almost make you look past those things. Which most of my friends did. It would have been a great movie if they didn’t include all the sexual humor. There’s even a “Dodgeball Dance Team” which is really just 5-6 girls in skimpy outfits, pole dancing the whole time in the background. Then of course you’ll find out the sexual orientation at the end of the movie which reminds you at the end God would not be laughing with you. Thus I recommend no christian see this movie as I felt extremely convicted.
My Ratings: [Very Offensive/4]
James, age 18
Neutral—…I came out of the film with mixed feelings. The film emphasized how to never give up and be able to achieve one’s goals. The dodgeball team, “Average Joes” never gave up on their goal to win the tournament. However, there is a lot of blue humor and sexual references (I admit to laughing at a few of them) along with someone “flipping the bird.” There are references to certain dodgeball team members being gay (and one of them happens to be bisexual). There is some violence but most of it involves getting hit with dodgeballs (sometimes the guys end up getting hit in some “sensitive” areas if you get my drift), metal tools (i.e. wrenches), passing cars, other people, etc. In general, the violence is pretty much “Three Stooges” fare. I would probably avoid this film. There are better sports movies with the same message that are a lot cleaner than this one.
My Ratings: [Average/3]
Shannon H., age 22
Positive—…It’s a great movie lots of good fun and its good to see a movie about the underdog and that they can come out on top even if the odds are against them. I don’t see anything bad about the movie I wouldn’t recomend anyone to young because they might not understand the movie or really enjoy it. I would say its worth seeing it and its a good movie it is very funny I laughed really hard at parts of it. IF you want to see a good movie that is just fun and funny and all around good. Go see it its worth it.
My Ratings: [Better than Average/5]
Jason, age 28
Negative—…the movie was not worth my hard earn money to go see. I especially didn’t not like the filthy language and sexual perversions that were promoted throughout the entire movie. I was expecting a decent comedy, but instead I came out of the movie theater feeling dirty. I will admit the movie was funny at times, but it was worth the laughs to see things that are shown as okay that as a Christian we don’t believe. I would not recommend anyone Christian to see it.
My Ratings: [Extremely Offensive/1]
Kevin Sapp, age 22
Neutral—Enough has been said about the movie by other reviewers; and I’ll let my ratings speak for themselves. I would like to speak to one point of the original review. “Deus ex machina” is not Greek. And it does not mean “machine of the gods.” It is Latin. And it means “the god from the machine.” Here “machina” means a machine like a siege engine or a catapult. The Greek for “machine of the gods” would be “mechane ton theon” and it would be written in the Greek alphabet, not the Roman alphabet.
My Ratings: [Average/3]
J. Watters, age 22
Positive—…I absolutely loved Dodgeball. Ben Stiller has once again proven that he is one of Hollywood’s leading men. As the movie progressed I felt myself cheering for “Average Joe” because he really presented the picture of just a regular guy. Even with a hilarious costume mix-up, he continued to work hard, even until his team had the final victory. While there was a small amount of language, as well as sexual humor, I found everything very acceptable and humorous. The highlight of the movie for me was when “Average Joe’s” team was forced to compete in uniforms that were… obviously not their regular ones. I couldn’t stop laughing! I have made it a new tradition with some of my congregation members to see a new movie every week or so after my sermon, and we all had to agree that this movie, while a tad corny, was very well done. Thumbs up!
My Ratings: [Good/5]
Rev. Durden, age 44
Negative—This movie was very funny at times, but it was balanced out with the unnecessary filthy language, and some in your face sensuality that is only needed unless you want to do what the Sciptures would call lusting. If your a Christian and know the Lord. You will, of course, be offended by the lack of discretion when it comes to the matter of bisexuality, and as I said sensuality, as well as crude, and filthy language, that (as in most movies) is intended to enhance the humour, but only taints it. Ben Stiller is always amusing, and some of the comedy, was both harmless and laugh out loud funny. Ben Stiller is very funny as usual, and the movie has its moments. But be discreet in watching it if you guard your heart like the Scriptures say, because like most movies they in-part promote a way of life different then the Lord’s, and a “open mind,” to what’s is wrong, is not going to be healthy mind.
My Ratings: [Average/3½]
Tim, age 19
I think it’s sad that one viewer said all of her friends who and I quote, “Are devoted to Christ” watched it all and said that you should just expect what’s in it if it tells you in the ratings. I think the classic question is WWJD? What Would Jesus Do? Would you feel comfortable taking Jesus to this movie? The thing is… if your a Christian, you have Jesus living in you. And if you weren’t convicted to turn off the VCR, or leave the theater during this movie. Then I guess He was there with you. How does that make you feel? Jesus was torn apart and hung on a cross to save us from sin, and yet so many Christians today then go and let sin entertain them on a big screen. I don’t get it. Is that pure devotion to Christ? I’m not trying to condemn anyone, I’m just saying let’s be honest!!
Jason, age 30
Negative—The ending absolutely ruined a funny movie. The last 2 minutes are just terrible and unnecessary. I decided at that moment that I will never see this movie again. I would recommend that you dodge this movie.
My Ratings: [Extremely Offensive/3]
Josh Jacobs, age 27
Negative—I (unfortunately) watched this movie with my two school aged children and my husband. I was embarrassed by the foul language, scantily clad cheerleaders and the bisexual kiss at the end. We ended up not letting our children watch the end of the movie. I would definitely not recommend this movie to Christian families!
My Ratings: [Very Offensive/1½]
Natalie Williams, age 33
Comments from young people
Positive—This movie was really funny.It was real good besides a few parts.I would recommend this movie.
My Ratings: [Average/4½]
William, age 13
Positive—I found this movie to be quite funny actually. Yes, there were some sexually degrading and parts that would almost push the movie rating to R, but it was very comical for 95% of the time. There was quite a lot of language, but that can be put aside for out cultural views on profanity now and days have become a lot less strict than before. As long as I and the people around me get a good laugh from the movie, I’d say it passes.
My Ratings: [Better than Average/4]
Alex, age 15
Positive—Hilariously portrayed. Some offensive language and content. Enough to warrant PG-13, but far enough away from “R” to keep viewers comfortable.
My Ratings: [Average/4]
Gene, age 17
Negative—I saw this movie with my Dad for fathers day, there were many parts of the movie when I felt uncomfortable, like the sexual humor and when they said God’s name in vain twice, once by a little girl scout! I also felt uncomfortable when the girl from the “Average Joes” team, kissed a girl, There were some parts in the movie that were funny, but those parts I already saw on the previews, so it was just kind of a waist of time and money, I would have rather saw “Shrek 2” again!
My Ratings: [Very Offensive/4½]
Cassie, age 15
Negative—I thought that this movie was extremely offensive to anyone who has any sort of moral conscience. There were many jokes made concerning beastiality, bisexuality, and other offensive subject matter. Practically the whole movie was one big sexual innuendo, and there were many scantilly clad men and women throughout the film. There was some bad language as well as several inappropriate gestures. I would not recommend this film to anybody, no matter what the age. I felt like walking out on the movie half way through.
My Ratings: [Extremely Offensive/3]
Bethany Sie, age 16
Neutral—Without Ben Stiller this movie is a total flop. His comedy alone makes it worth seeing as he is always a hoot to watch. The comedy of the members of the “Average Joe’s” team is hilarious, especially Steve the Pirate, but quite a bit of sex jokes on the part of Stiller dulls the humor aspect of it. The best part is seen the recreational activity of dodgeball made into as a semi-professional sport. However, as the movie drew to a close, I completely off guard by a female-female kiss. That said, “Dodgeball” definitely has its laughs, but also its problems.
My Ratings: [Average/3]
Jon, age 17
Negative—This movie may be funny,however full of objectional material. Not only are there many he*ls and d***s, there are many Godd***s, bit**s, sh**s, two middle fingers, and one f**k. There are numerous sexual jokes (gay and straight), and a lesbian kiss scene. If anyone can call this a good film, they must not have actually watched it.
My Ratings: [Very Offensive/1½ ]
Chris, age 15
Neutral—I think its an okay movie. It has a little bit of cursing, and cute girls trying to look sexy. I would recommend that kids under 10 should be with an adult or with a higher authority…
My Ratings: [Average/3½]
Brandon Mc Elroy, age 15
Negative—I just have one thing to say about this movie… YUCK! I’m fifteen years old and I went to see it with my 18 year old brother, my twelve year old sister, and 14 other kids from our youth group. It was not only extremely stupid, but very gross. Now I will admit that a few others and myself left the movie after about an hour into it and went across the hall to see Shrek 2, but what I heard from the others that stayed the whole time made me very glad I left. If you are wise, you’ll save your money and see a different movie!
My Ratings: [Very Offensive/2½]
Erynn, age 15
Negative—I went to see Dodgeball with a few friends and we left the theater twenty minutes into the movie. I was looking away from the screen and talking to my friend the majority of the time trying to spare my eyes and ears from the vulgar jokes and things that were supposed to be “funny.” Save your money. Skip Dodgeball.
My Ratings: [Very Offensive/2]
Kaley, age 17
Positive—I went to the movie yesterday with my buddy, and we couldn’t stop laughing it was so funny. I think I liked it better than Zoolander. Even though Ben Stiller really isn’t the main character in the movie. Throughout the film their are jokes of all kinds and really I only caught one curse word throughout the movie. The humor only got a little inappropriate, but in the scene I thought it deserved to be there. Overall, an enjoyable experience…
My Ratings: [Better than Average/4]
Ray T., age 15
I saw this movie tonight with a few friends from Youth Group… I was very disgusted with so many things… First of all, the car wash at the beginning, I turned away… Girls, in bikini’s… This was exploiting girls bodies! This whole movie related to outward appearances and bi-Sexual and homosexual… very crude humor! I was very disgusted at the end of the movie… Please Save your money, I made the mistake of not reading all of the comments in this site!
My Ratings: [Very Offensive/2]
Aly, age 15
Positive—This movie was very funny and had very good jokes, but some (or should I say most) of the jokes were aimed at more mature audiences. I say take the family for this movie, but leave kids 13 and under behind.
My Ratings: [Average/4]
David Hermann, age 14
Positive—Greatest Ben Stiller movie ever. Could not stop laughing. Especially when the guy kept getting hit by the wrench and Ben Stiller’s pointless conversations with himself.
My Ratings: [Better than Average/5]
Greg McNowski, age 14
Positive—I saw Dodgeball with a group of my friends—all of which have devoted their lives to Christ and all thought the movie was hilarious. You can’t complain about vulgarity if the movie rating tells you about it. It’s a hilarious movie if your open minded. You can’t expect to see a movie like that without hearing anybody curse. None of my friends curse, but still loved it. It is a very very funny movie with an awesome ending!
My Ratings: [Average/5]
Rachel, age 17
Positive—This movie was so funny!! there were a few parts that were a little, uhh… weird, but I laughed through the whole movie. I recommend this to people 12 to 16.
My Ratings: [Excellent/5]
Johny Boy, age 14
Movie Critics
…ruined by plenty of foul language and crude jokes, plus a subplot promoting sexual perversion…
Dr. Tom Snyder, Movie Guide
…It’s a rancid combination of highly sexualized content and nasty name-calling that sets the movie’s tone…
Adam R. Holz, Plugged In Online
…Unfortunately, there really isn’t enough there to cover for the clichés, making “Dodgeball” intermittently funny at best, an overlong comedy sketch at worst…
Wade Major, Boxoffice Magazine
…Profanity consists of at least 1 “f” word, while other expletives and plenty of colorful phrases are also uttered…