You Can't "Dodge" Long Beach for Filming
“Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story,” if you’ve never seen it, is simple enough to figure out based on the title. Peter Le Fleur (Vince Vaughn) owns an amateur gym titled “Average Joe’s” and faces the possible foreclosure of his gym. To save it, he and his friends enter a dodgeball tournament to win the $50,000 cash prize.
Filming took place in many locations one might look at daily and never realize it was utilized in a film. The exterior of Average Joe’s gym is a brick storage building on the outskirts of Little Tokyo in Los Angeles, whereas the location they play their first game was filmed in a near-century-old building at the junction of Highway 10 and 110. Production also made its way to Long Beach for a few scenes you might recognize.
If you’ve seen the film, you might remember the infamous dodgeball training video that shows little Timmy learning the ins and outs of the game. Before he gets taken on his instructional tour, Timmy is seen painting a picket fence outside of a traditional American house.
Well, if you were thinking it looked like the houses in the quaint neighborhood of Bluff Heights, you were right! The area found between Broadway, Junipero Avenue, Fourth Street, and Redondo Avenue is primarily Craftsman bungalows constructed from approximately 1910 to 1923. This type of architecture lured film crews there to get the post-war era shot.
And where better to go than a high school to film a cheer tryouts scene? Specifically Cabrillo High School, where the symmetry of the palm trees, paired with the awning, make for a great backdrop for the scrawny Justin (Justin Long) to lift the heaviest girl at tryouts.
Another well-known scene was filmed at Cabrillo High School; however, it was intended to be unrecognizable. The back wall of the school’s gym is retractable, so it was opened up to create the set for the professional dodgeball scene said to occur in Las Vegas. Production covered the interior so well, you’d never guess it would be a high school gym. However, it wasn’t completely foolproof.
“You know they bring in all this set stuff, but I can always recognize the school from some little detail like a picture on the wall or something,” said Chris Follett, night supervisor at Cabrillo.
Lastly, the crew didn’t make it far from the high school before stopping down the road on Santa Fe Avenue just south of Anaheim Street. The more desolate area with view of the port in the background was the backdrop chosen for the scene could have been filmed anywhere: the “if you can dodge traffic you can dodge a ball,” scene.