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Set at a low-end summer camp and aimed squarely at a teen audience Meatballs is a light screwball comedy that turned its low-budget Canadian roots into a very profitable box-office run. The biggest reason for the film's success is Bill Murray who stars as Tripper the head counselor who runs things at Camp Northstar with the help of his love interest Roxanne (Kate Lynch) and the camp's director Morty (Harvey Atkins) who is affectionately known as Mickey. Camp opens with Tripper and Morty preparing the misfit counselors-in-training Spaz Fink Crockett A.L. Candace Wendy and Wheels among them for the arrival of their hyperactive little charges. After settling in kids and counselors begin their activities with a soccer game in which depressed 11-year-old Rudy (Chris Makepeace) accidentally loses the game. Cast out by the other children Rudy runs away only to come across Tripper who befriends the boy and makes him his running partner. Romance sexy fun and comic hijinx usually with the heavy-sleeping Morty as their target lead up to an annual Olympiad in which Camp Northstar battles the wealthier and athletically superior residents of Camp Mohawk. The challenging events include cup stacking potato-sack racing and a nauseating hot dog-eating contest in which the portly Fink devours his way to victory. With the two-day event tied up it comes down to the cross-country run in which Tripper enters Rudy. Meatballs was the first major directorial effort by multi-talented filmmaker Ivan Reitman whose name has since become synonymous with the comedy genre.SPECIAL FEATURES: Commentary with Ivan Reitman and Writer/Producer Daniel Goldberg Three-Part Making-of DocumentaryRun Time: 94System Requirements:Running Time: 94 minutesFormat: BLU-RAY DISC Genre: COMEDY Rating: PG UPC: 043396194373 Manufacturer No: 19437
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Murray's talent is displayed well when seen in contrast to a boring, unfunny script.
I think every generation has their own version of "Meatballs." Mine was "Ski School." Every generation probably has their cheap copy, mine was "Ski School." I'm not sure where this falls in. I'll say my jaw dropped at some of the failed humor. You've actually seen this movie already: Take every cliché from every summer camp comedy you can think of and it is in this. I try to see these films through my lens, not considering its place in its own time unless it helps me interpret the film maker's communicative intentions. With "Meatballs" I'll just say that it might be the first of its kind I'm not sure, but whatever the case it is not worthy of being copied. It's simply bad at all levels with only Murray as its singular redeeming value.
So the final act is a contest or olympiad, with the slogan "it just doesn't matter" and they could not have been more right. I would argue that if the movie had been about the contest it would have made for an all around more interesting picture. Even Murray's humorous speech that it doesn't matter might have been funnier and even profound at the same time. As it was the contest just arrives and the most crucial details of its history are revealed as it happens leaving no stakes or risks what so ever. They try to create them but they are completely artificial, forced. That is for the exception of a race which is faaaaaar from exciting to watch. It's just bad camera work and lame audio recording of running. While it was a physical race it was actually a race for acceptance. Believe me it's not even that good. The character that wants to win to be accepted has had few events, save for one, that make us want him to win. He just whines the whole movie about being rejected and is basically being used to make Murray's character look like a really likeable guy. Spoiler: after he wins the race no one accepts him or learns anything new about him, he just won.
-Bill Murray is on top of his game
-no story arc
-no arc is fine if we get good comedy which we get little of
-you won't laugh if you watch this
I hate reviewing comedies because it makes me sound so uptight. I like comedies though. "American Pie" does this type of film right. It's funny and there are stakes for the characters. Watch these together and I bet you won't find it hard to see where I'm coming from. On the lesser end of comedies that I like, "lesser" being less popular, the afore mentioned "Ski School" or "The Adventures of Ford Fairlane" are hilarious movies with very little or significant plot. Again way better than this snooz fest.
You may have seen other movies like it, but "Meatballs" is still the seminal camp movie, with its semi-raunchy humor (you'd never see a PG rated kids comedy now with as much adult material as this), fun mix of Elmer Bernstein score and songs (many written by Elmer and Norman Gimbel), and steady stream of laughs making for a good time for one and all.
Surprisingly, "Meatballs" had something of a turbulent post-production process. Reitman's original version of the film focused mostly on the adventures of the various camp counselors, but when the director went to cut the film down, taking out nearly an hour of footage, he found himself with a 70 minute feature that needed "more." The director then decided to develop more material around the relationship between Murray's counselor and young Chris Makepeace, resulting in an enhanced emotional center at the heart of the picture (those scenes also stand out since Makepeace looks noticeably older).
An independent production that's bounced around various video labels over the years, "Meatballs" was last issued by Sony in a Special Edition DVD that included a decent retrospective documentary. That edition was supposed to be released on Blu-Ray but never happened, leaving fans to wait until this excellent new Lionsgate HD package materialized. While the BD lacks the Sony documentary and other extras (it does retain a fascinating commentary track with Reitman and co-writer Dan Goldberg), the 1080p transfer is spectacular: crisp, colorful, and freed of DNR. The DTS MA stereo audio is likewise fine, and the original Paramount logo is retained (Paramount beat Fox and Universal for the rights to distribute the film theatrically in 1979). For Murray fanatics and comedy fans, this is a terrific catalog release that comes highly recommended.
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