MEATBALLS (1979) 

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Bill Murray
Harvey Atkin
Kate Lynch
Chris Makepeace
Matt Craven
Russ Banham
Kristine DeBell
Sarah Torgov
Jack Blum
Keith Knight

Ivan Reitman



Time: 99 mins.
Rating: PG
Genre: Comedy

SYNOPSIS: A horny, smartass camp counselor attempts to get raise the moral of the kids forced to come to his camp while also trying to get himself and his fellow male counselors laid.

BOTTOM LINE: This is Murray's first starring role and his lack of confidence shows. However, his dry wit, innate intelligence and sweet nature go a long way to making this something of a summer camp classic. The plot is certainly nothing you haven't seen a million times before, but Murray brings his unique brand of humor to the obvious role of a sex-obsessed, smart aleck. Though the most famous actor in the film (then and now) he doesn't have as much screen time as he should, leaving the sections of the film without him feeling a bit flat. Blum and Knight, as Spaz and Fink two loveless junior counselors, provide the only additional spark and humor when Murray is not on camera. Their attempts to entice their female counterparts to even kiss them are painfully awkward and thus quite funny.

While Murray's Tripper does spend the entire film trying to get into the pants of co-hort Kate Lynch, it's the time his character spends mentoring a young outsider played by Chris Makepeace that is special. It's this relationship between hip man and uncool boy that brings the most heart and humor to the film and makes it resonate more than other flicks in this genre. They have a connection that's hard to fake and if you're not touched by Makepeace's redemption in the end, you were clearly a very popular teen who never struggled with finding acceptance among their peers.

While there is some hooking up amongst the counselors, the movie is rated PG, so it's a film the whole family can watch, making it a bit old-fashioned. It's silly humor and lack of nudity or cursing will most likely fail to impress today's teens. If hot-dog eating contests and practical jokes aren't your idea of humor, you will not be amused by MEATBALLS. Those who enjoy the Farrelly brothers type of comedy, should just pass this movie by. It's a film that reflects a simpler, sweeter time and one that made me wish I could have attended their less than perfect camp.

"Attention. Here's an update on tonight's dinner. It was veal. I repeat, veal. The winner of tonight's mystery meat contest is Jeffrey Corbin who guessed 'some kind of beef.'"

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