It’s a little jarring that it’s already been 10 years since Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story came out. It seems like just yesterday I was listening to my college roommate rattle off Vince Vaughn quotes. It may not have been the strongest offering from the “Frat Pack’s” golden era, but the ragtag team of gym misfits and a spandex-clad Ben stiller delivered a decent chunk of solid laughs about a middle school P.E. activity on steroids. Not to mention memorable scenes from Jason Bateman and cameos from William Shatner, Chuck Norris, and Norm MacDonald (he’s un-credited but if you look hard enough you can spot him in some of the Globo Gym scenes).
In honor of Rip Torn’s greatest role — at least among roles concerning wheelchair-bound psychos — here are 10 facts behind the creation of Stiller/Vaughn comedy.
1. Rip Torn’s wrench-throwing is not to be underestimated. The prop wrenches that Rip Torn hurled at Justin Long’s head were made of rubber, but that didn’t stop one from cutting open Long’s eyebrow.
2. The DVD’s commentary is a joke. It’s customary for many DVDs to have commentary with the director, screenwriters and cast — in fact, it’s where most of these obscure facts originate from — Dodgeball’s commentary is one of the more entertaining ones out there and basically involves Vince Vaughn and writer/director Rawson Marshall Thurber drinking beer and ragging on Ben Stiller for being late. When Ben finally does show up they all get into an argument, storm out, and the audio commentary for There’s Something About Mary begins.
3. Hollywood was doubtful of a movie about a misfit dodgeball team. Dodgeball was Rawson Marshall Thurber’s first feature-length screenplay and most of the major studios weren’t interested in the idea. Ben Stiller’s Red Hour productions was going to produce the film, but getting financial backing from a studio proved difficult. Dreamworks and MGM passed on the project, and Fox didn’t finally sign on until after Stiller agreed to numerous pay cuts. The film cost only $23 million to make, but went on to pull $124 million at the box office.
4. Nobody enjoyed the dodgeball scenes. Before filming began the cast had a one month dodgeball refresher course, at which point they all remembered how much they hated dodgeball. Stiller told IGN that the actual dodgeball scenes were exhausting to shoot, but nobody wanted to look bad in front of the 500 extras and gave it their all. The low-point of the shoot came when Stiller accidentally beamed his wife in the face with one of the rubber balls.
“I hit her in the face a couple of times, which was not good. Not helpful. That actually affected our relationship for like a week. There’s just no way not to get upset with somebody after you’ve done that. It just sent us both back to eighth grade.”
5. Patches O’Houlihan took his insults from the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team. Rip Torn’s character Patches O’Houlihan had a lot of great lines and one that was particularly popular was his comparison of the team’s performance to watching “a bunch of retards hump a doorknob.” This not-so politically correct metaphor was a reference to 1980 U.S. Olympic Hockey Coach Herb Brooks, who compared his team’s training efforts to a bunch of monkeys trying to hump a football.