Video Essay: How “Dodgeball” Challenged Traditional Masculine Stereotypes


Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story, starring Vince Vaughn and Ben Stiller, is one of those mid-level comedies from the Aughts that I keep revisiting every once in a while. It’s funny, has some memorable quirky characters, and it moves. So many comedies during this period “felt” like Dodgeball…with the same actors, the same sense of humor, even overlapping plots (that’s got to be a separate post down the line).

This video essay from Trash Theory points out something that I never quite noticed before in previous viewings: just how much the film subverts traditional conceptions of masculinity.

You see it in the main character’s last name LaFleur, a “feminine” name meaning “flower” for what should be a typical wisecracking “cool bro”; you see it in various ways embodied by the wacky cast of “underdogs”; you see it in the fact that only when the team embraces female energy (symbolized by Christine Taylor’s character) do they get a winning edge; and you see it in the fact that Stiller’s character is a hyper-macho asshole.

The essay also points out that the original filmed ending for Dodgeball featured the underdog team losing to the hyper-masculine assholes; negative test-screenings put the kibosh on that.

Anyway…an interesting little essay that reminded me to check this flick out again sometime soon.