Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story

  • Review Date: December 6, 2004
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Release Year: 2004
  • Running Time: 96 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Think Bad News Bears crossed with Happy Gilmore.
  • Review Date: December 6, 2004
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Release Year: 2004
  • Running Time: 96 minutes





What parents need to know

Positive messages

Fat, unattractive, and/or slow-witted people are the butt of numerous jokes and comic scenes. The only positive messages are that even the most unlikely people can achieve success if they try hard, think creatively, and are very lucky; and, that those with virtuous motives triumph over vain arrogance and greed.

Positive role models

Though characters are portrayed as working hard to attain a specific goal, given their behavior and their eccentricities, no one is a positive role model.


Continuous cartoon violence: pratfalls, characters being hit with steel wrenches, rubber balls (in the groin, face, head and every other conceivable area of the body).  Characters dodge traffic, run into walls, and one primary character is “killed” when a massive chandelier falls and crushes him. Other than the chandelier debacle, none of the characters is shown to be in pain or seriously injured.  All action is played in an exaggerated manner for comic effect.


Raunchy sexuality plays a big part in the humor of this film: character “pumps up” groin area of his workout pants to accentuate size of his genitals and wears those pants throughout the movie; classic-style sculpture of men in a grotesque sexual pose is featured in one sequence; lots of large-breasted women are seen in scanty clothing. There are crotch jokes, electrodes attached to nipples, sloppy kisses, and one extended girl-girl kiss and embrace.


Continuous broad, risque language from start to finish: multiple uses and expressions involving “sh-t,” “ass,” bitch,” “hooker,” “pecker-slap,” “masturbate,” “semen,” “balls” (countless double entendres here), and "screwed.”   In addition, there are derogatory, inflammatory descriptions such as: “retards,” “queers,” “lesbian” and “ladies” used to insult a group of men. Such “colorful” ribald expressions as “Skidmarks on the underpants of…, ” and “Time to put your mouth where our balls are,” are heard throughout.


Flooded with featured products and signage: Lumber Liquidators, FOX TV, Marriott Hotels, ESPN (a fake channel they call ESPN 8), Omaha Steaks, Sport Court, Mat Depot, Hallmark, the Las Vegas Monte Carlo Hotel.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Beer and other alcoholic beverages are consumed in numerous sequences, but never to the stage of drunkenness. There is one shot of an opium den. Some characters are shown using alchol to “drown their sorrows.”

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this is meant to be silly fun -- teens and parents who love Adam Sandler-style humor will enjoy it very much. Those who don't should avoid it. The movie has some very mature material for a PG-13 including explicit sexual humor with jokes about adultery, group sex, pornography, genital size, bondage, and homosexuality along with some very strong language including many double entendres featuring the word "balls." Characters drink frequently, including drinking to dull pain. The coach taunts the team by calling them "ladies." Numerous large-breasted women appear in close-ups, wearing very little. 

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

Pete (Vince Vaughn) is about to lose his gym, the comfy hang-out "Average Joe's," to White (Ben Stiller), the owner of the uber-exercise facility known as Globo Gym (slogan: "We're better than you are!"). To save the gym, he needs $50,000 in 30 days. And that just happens to be the purse for the winner of the big dodgeball tournament that one of Average Joe's regulars finds in the pages of his Obscure Sports Quarterly magazine. So Pete and his gang of misfits decide to take their shot. The group includes Justin (Justin Long), Stephen Root (Office Space), and Steve the Pirate (Alan Tudyk), a guy who refers to himself in the third person and thinks he is a pirate. After winning the qualifying regional title on a technicality, they are approached by the world's greatest dodgeball coach (Rip Torn), who reminds them that "dodgeball is a sport of violence, exclusion, and degradation" and in just three weeks turns them into a lean, mean, fighting machine. Or at least into a group that can duck when a wrench is thrown their way. And they pick up a new team member who can throw very, very hard. Then it's off to the big game, with preliminary skirmishes before facing the Globo team, men-mountains who all have names like "Laser" and "Taser" plus a unibrowed woman with very bad teeth.

Is it any good?


DODGEBALL: A TRUE UNDERDOG STORY is pure silliness -- lots of balls slamming into lots of people, some funny surprise cameo appearances, Ben Stiller's clueless bully persona, and insult humor. Gary Cole and Jason Bateman have some good moments as sportscasters and Hank Azaria is fun to watch in an old instructional film the team uses to learn how to play. Most of the laughs are less in the "wow, that's funny category" than in the "I can't believe they tried that" category, as when a uniform mix-up has the Average Joes appearing at a match in bondage gear, but there aren't many real clunkers. Pete's slacker demeanor never gives Vaughn a chance to make use of his greatest asset, the slightly ADD vibe he showed to such advantage in Swingers and Clay Pigeons. And Christine Taylor (Stiller's real-life wife) deserves better than a role that is essentially the same one she played in Zoolander. But it all moves pretty quickly and is over before it wears out its welcome.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about some of their own experience in feeling like an underdog. What should Pete have done when White made him an offer?

  • Families could also talk about perseverance, and the comment made by

  • one character that "if a person never quits after the going gets rough,

  • they won't have anything to regret for the rest of their lives."

  • Peter is a very reluctant leader to his team. Why do they look up to him so much? Do you think it was wrong for him to admonish them for doing so?

  • What authentic underdog sports stories do you enjoy?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:June 18, 2004
DVD release date:December 7, 2004
Cast:Ben Stiller, Justin Long, Vince Vaughn
Director:Rawson Marshall Thurber
Studio:Twentieth Century Fox
Run time:96 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:rude and sexual humor, and language

This review of Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story was written by

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  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Parent of a 12 year old Written byHasalan December 28, 2010
There is some use of bad language and a few 'near the mark' jokes, and some mild violence - though this is slap-stick. The characters are great - by no means are they angels - but they give a message of team work and accepting people for who they are. It's a very funny film.
What other families should know
Great role models
Teen, 16 years old Written byHennex January 4, 2011

Good movie

What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism
Great role models
Kid, 12 years old August 26, 2010
some strong language,2 or 3 uses of f--k
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing


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