A Movie A Day: Quint on MEATBALLS (1979)
Is that a bra you're wearing or are you expecting an assassination attempt?
Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with today’s installment of A Movie A Day.
[For those now joining us, A Movie A Day is my attempt at filling in gaps in my film knowledge. My DVD collection is thousands strong, many of them films I haven’t seen yet, but picked up as I scoured used DVD stores. Each day I’ll pull a previously unseen film from my collection and discuss it here. Each movie will have some sort of connection to the one before it, be it cast or crew member.]
Today we follow the Murray blood line from yesterday’s MOVING VIOLATIONS to today’s MEATBALLS.
Ever since I was a kid I knew I should be watching this one. It’s always been in the background… Hell, I’ve seen the second one, thanks to HBO… I think because Pee-Wee Herman was in it.
Anyway, it was a long time coming, especially considering how much of a whore I am for Bill Murray, and now the time has come.
And I was underwhelmed.
The flick doesn’t really stand up to any of the classics of the era. The PORKYs, the STRIPESes or ANIMAL HOUSEs or the CADDYSHACKs. Know what this film reminded me of the most? You’ll think I’m crazy for a second, but bear with me.
This film reminded me most of BACHELOR PARTY. It’s slightly awkward, a lot clunky, but in both cases the filmmakers took an exploding comic star and just let them run. In the case of Bachelor Party, it was Tom Hanks. Shots hold too long, but you don’t mind because it’s fascinating trying to watch Hanks wing it or do something bugnuts insane to fill the time.
I got the exact same feeling about MEATBALLS. Bill Murray isn’t constrained. He’s like Animal from the Muppet Show. His chains are removed and he’s out of the gate, going a million miles a second, sometimes knocking shit over, but just completely unrestrained.
The comedy is all character-driven, not story driven. There’s a crazy summer camp, the craziest of the counselors pushes the kids to kick another summer camp’s ass at their annual games.
However there is a lot of hear to the movie and I found that’s what I was most drawn to. Bill Murray’s character, Trip, takes an awkward young kid, Rudy (played by Chris Makepeace), under his wing and fills in as goofy big brother, helping him talk to girls and survive puberty.
There’s a natural feeling to this film that I also appreciated. Everybody feels like they’re having a good time and it doesn’t feel overly cast. Even Murray looks like he comes from the real world, and wasn’t cast out of some magazine.
Maybe there’s a disconnect for me due to expectation of a great missed comedy. Maybe I never really had the summer camp experience as a kid… Whatever the reason, I didn’t love the flick, but I can say I do love moments of this movie and I love what they were going for.
Final Thoughts: Murray is a ball of comic energy in this thing and the real heart in how he deals with the kids makes it a worthy flick, but I was expecting another Stripes from the team of Ivan Reitman and Bill Murray and I didn’t quite get it. Looking at it in Bill Murray’s career timeline, it’s fascinating watching him tackle his first starring role. It’s not a bad movie at all and one I expect to grow on me each time I see it.
The schedule for the next 7 days is:
Tuesday, July 22nd: CAST A GIANT SHADOW (1966)
Wednesday, July 23rd: OUT OF THE PAST (1947)
Thursday, July 24th: THE BIG STEAL (1949)
Friday, July 25th: WHERE DANGER LIVES (1950)
Saturday, July 26th: CROSSFIRE (1947)
Sunday, July 27th: RICCO, THE MEAN MACHINE (1973)
Monday, July 28th: IN HARM’S WAY (1965)
June 2nd: Harper
June 3rd: The Drowning Pool
June 4th: Papillon
June 5th: Gun Crazy
June 6th: Never So Few
June 7th: A Hole In The Head
June 8th: Some Came Running
June 9th: Rio Bravo
June 10th: Point Blank
June 11th: Pocket Money
June 12th: Cool Hand Luke
June 13th: The Asphalt Jungle
June 14th: Clash By Night
June 15th: Scarlet Street
June 16th: Killer Bait (aka Too Late For Tears)
June 17th: Robinson Crusoe On Mars
June 18th: City For Conquest
June 19th: San Quentin
June 20th: 42nd Street
June 21st: Dames
June 22nd: Gold Diggers of 1935
June 23rd: Murder, My Sweet
June 24th: Born To Kill
June 25th: The Sound of Music
June 26th: Torn Curtain
June 27th: The Left Handed Gun
June 28th: Caligula
June 29th: The Elephant Man
June 30th: The Good Father
July 1st: Shock Treatment
July 2nd: Flashback
July 3rd: Klute
July 4th: On Golden Pond
July 5th: The Cowboys
July 6th: The Alamo
July 7th: Sands of Iwo Jima
July 8th: Wake of the Red Witch
July 9th: D.O.A.
July 10th: Shadow of A Doubt
July 11th: The Matchmaker
July 12th: The Black Hole
July 13th: Vengeance Is Mine
July 14th: Strange Invaders
July 15th: Sleuth
July 16th: Frenzy
July 17th: Kingdom of Heaven: The Director’s Cut
July 18th: Cadillac Man
July 19th: The Sure Thing
Readers Talkbackcomments powered by Disqus
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July 21, 2008, 7:17 p.m. CST
July 21, 2008, 7:18 p.m. CST
in the Q&A for Stripes at the New Beverly last week, Ivan said that he didn't know for sure that Bill would be in Meatballs until he literally showed up on the set the first day. And he didn't get Bill for Stripes until 2 weeks before it started filming. That movie was originally written for Cheech & Chong.
July 21, 2008, 7:26 p.m. CST
by Gap Toothed TV Boy
Reitman made this pre-Stripes and pre-Animal House, so he was clearly cutting his teeth and got better as a director, but still a very funny movie. It WILL grow on you.
July 21, 2008, 10:19 p.m. CST
dude i love all these reviews and interviews that you're doing all the while you got people out there in the f'ing dark about the mutant chronicles contest... i mean its kinda obvious some of us lost but dude give us some closure on that bro... by the way great movie...
July 21, 2008, 10:23 p.m. CST
Oops, wrong Rudy. When I catch Meatballs now, I always wonder whatever happened to Chris Makepeace? Quint, put My Bodyguard on your list!
July 21, 2008, 10:25 p.m. CST
and was not dissapointed
July 21, 2008, 10:27 p.m. CST
but in my memory, it always felt like they made a Friday the 13th movie with out a killer, and added bits of comedy. I do recall the naturalistic pacing though. Kinda want to watch this again. And Porky's for that matter. Which is odd because I normally don't dig those films, but I've been watching a lot of Friday the 13th lately and just really digging that 80s vibe. Oh hell, throw in Black Christamas and call it I night I think. To the Queuemobile!
July 21, 2008, 10:27 p.m. CST
Granted, I haven't seen it in like 20 years, but I remember loving it.
I must have seen Meatballs 20 times as a kid, mainly because it was on HBO or Showtime. It had great tidbits like the "It just doesn't matter" rant by Murray. Or great lines over the P.A. system, like "Update on tonight's dinner...it was veal." To this day, I always say to my family members: "C'mon Morty, make a decision!"
its mor bad news bears than anything.
July 21, 2008, 10:52 p.m. CST
It would be hard for an adult in 2008 to be blown away by this one. But I think it's funnier and more engaging than Stripes. Murray's relationship with the kids, especially Makepeace, is more involving than anything going on in Stripes.
July 21, 2008, 10:52 p.m. CST
July 21, 2008, 10:52 p.m. CST
Well, gee, that's funny - no one here gives a shit what you think, either. Quite the coincidence!<p>Quint, watch this movie again with a sombrero full of peanuts. Makes all the difference in the world.
July 21, 2008, 10:58 p.m. CST
by Alonzo Mosely
No, you "couldn't give a shit". If you could give a shit, it would mean you did care about it, which is obviously not what you are attempting to convey. Why do people have so much fucking trouble with this, I see it used incorrectly more often that correctly, and it always make me wonder why so few people seem capable of understanding the language they are using... But hey, that's just me, what do I know...
July 21, 2008, 11:19 p.m. CST
I mostly remember watching this over and over with my grandfather when I was a kid, until this last month when it's been on cable quite a bit. Even with the most cliche of plotlines, there's definitely the feeling of something "real" here. It certainly wins more points for nostalgia than solid laughs, but I'll always like it.
July 21, 2008, 11:26 p.m. CST
This was one THE films when I was in grade school and junior high. Saw it dozens of times, chanted the chants, called people "spaz" at school. Years later in my 30s when my let slip that she'd never seen it I was flabbergasted and went out and rented it on DVD. By the end, I just looked at her, apologized and told her I remembered it being a lot better when I was kid. Murray was fun in it, but the style and comedy just seem so damn dated and formula now. Like a teenage sexploitation flick from the 90s without must of the sex and dirtiness.
July 21, 2008, 11:53 p.m. CST
in it's day and I think is one of those films you appreciate more if you saw it when it came out. People will remember and quote the comedic moments but it wasn't really the comedy that made it a good movie, rather it was the story between Tripper and Rudy and the other counselors that made it a joy to watch. Reitman does a very good job taking a small scale story and drawing out the heart warming, touching, emotions and relationships (as he's done many times since).
July 22, 2008, midnight CST
My favorite part of the movie was the blond counselor. She was smokin' hot!
July 22, 2008, 12:05 a.m. CST
by otm shank
is cinematic greatness. C'mon it had a donkey snortin' lines of coke for Christ's sake!
July 22, 2008, 12:21 a.m. CST
you weren't ready for the good times! You would love this one if you had seen it when you were 12...
July 22, 2008, 12:28 a.m. CST
I still love Bill Murray's interview to the reporter as the bogus, Camp director for their rivals, Jerry L Deany. I think was the name he uses? Where he explains what the campers will be doing this year. Sexual awareness month or when he says, each camper stalks and kills his own prey. The reporter says, wow thats fascinating! hehe.
July 22, 2008, 12:37 a.m. CST
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."
July 22, 2008, 12:58 a.m. CST
July 22, 2008, 1:07 a.m. CST
following Chris Makepiece. Or had you already seen it? Man, so many ways to go off that one. What the hell ever happened to Chris Makepiece anyway?
July 22, 2008, 1:49 a.m. CST
by Gwai Lo
to tell you the truth. I mean Murray is fun to watch but the movie itself is pretty weak. You're going to love Out of the Past though, great film
July 22, 2008, 2:12 a.m. CST
or else, he woulda loved this movie...and how did he miss that there was a porno star in the flick..she was a big selling point and never took off her clothes...and this still was a great movie...murray played the head counselor that all head counselors strove to be...
July 22, 2008, 2:18 a.m. CST
it was a teen sex comedy without the sex...which why it is still watchable...and if it sucked so much, why have so many films copied its formula...right down to daddy day camp (ok...bad example)
July 22, 2008, 2:41 a.m. CST
This is pretty much a perfect movie, and contains one of my favourite ever lines which I use to this day: "I'm probably just going to use her for the rest of the summer and then...throw her on the scrap heap- along with all the other women I've destroyed." Classic Bill Murray at his best.
July 22, 2008, 3:04 a.m. CST
when i read that review for some reason. Haven't watched meatballs for years. didn't one of the sequels, four i think, have corey feldman in it???
July 22, 2008, 3:15 a.m. CST
One of my all time favs. Very good, unremembered film.
July 22, 2008, 3:16 a.m. CST
If you have Direct TV, they been showin it a lot lately.
July 22, 2008, 3:20 a.m. CST
I mean come on, Adam Baldwin in one of is first roles. Matt Dillon playing the perfect asshole.
July 22, 2008, 3:27 a.m. CST
The whole cast was a great ensemble. Really believed everything. Such a classic.
July 22, 2008, 5:42 a.m. CST
by Grammaton Cleric Binks
you were comparing a pg movie to rated R movies. You were thinking naked counselors, when it's an underdog/childhood angst story behind the comedy backdrop.
July 22, 2008, 6:38 a.m. CST
Some Kind of Meat
July 22, 2008, 6:48 a.m. CST
I went to the camp (Camp White Pines, in Haliburton, Ontario) where this was filmed. A few years after I was there, my brother was there during the filming. He tells me he got to contribute some background crowd noise.
July 22, 2008, 7:44 a.m. CST
by Drunken Rage
And you know what they're saying? They're saying, 'This is the year Fink beats The Stomach.' No, it's a couple of guys over here." Goddamn, "Meatballs" is one of my all-time faves. And one of Murray's most natural performances.
July 22, 2008, 7:44 a.m. CST
by Sailor Rip
Watched it a few months ago after not seeing it in years, whasn't funny.
July 22, 2008, 7:51 a.m. CST
July 22, 2008, 7:56 a.m. CST
I'll admit it probably wouldn't hold up to someone seeing it for the first time now but if you were a child in the 70s and went to summer camp this is a classic. I'll second adding My Bodyguard to the list who's existence gives Drillbit Taylor one of it's few funny jokes.
July 22, 2008, 8:04 a.m. CST
There is really no reason for you to single out this piece as not being worth reading. Do you know how MANY items appear on this site that aren't worth reading? 90% of what Herc posts has no reason to be posted. Why pick on Quint?
July 22, 2008, 8:26 a.m. CST
by Richard Cranium
Because there's really nothing else here. Not much of a cast, not much of a plot, not much of a script. But Murray singlehandedly takes over the movie and makes it kinda fun and watchable.
July 22, 2008, 8:43 a.m. CST
by Jawa 007
This is a durable one. It's funny and it holds up. Bet if you watched it again without the expectation you'd appreciate it more. And Joeelliott sure does spend a lot of time on a board he claims to care nothing about.
July 22, 2008, 8:46 a.m. CST
It just doesn't matter! It just doesn't matter! It just doesn't matter! It just doesn't matter! It just doesn't matter!
July 22, 2008, 8:47 a.m. CST
July 22, 2008, 8:59 a.m. CST
Beautiful quote. The reason this movie is sorta lame (although my 12 year-old eyes enjoyed it at the time) was because it was attempting to duplicate the "Animal House" aesthetic, but diluted so as to obtain a PG-rating. An impossible task at the time.
July 22, 2008, 9 a.m. CST
Love this movie. It is a classic.
July 22, 2008, 9:01 a.m. CST
July 22, 2008, 9:08 a.m. CST
...because all of the good looking girls will only date movie reviewers from Camp Mohawk since they've got all the money.
July 22, 2008, 9:14 a.m. CST
That's right kids, the one girl in this movie was in a porno. Now go hunt for it...
July 22, 2008, 9:32 a.m. CST
Ohh, that's too juicy to let slide. Which actress was in a porno? From Meatballs?
July 22, 2008, 9:43 a.m. CST
by Lou Stools
Yes, count me in to the loved-it-as-a-kid-on-endless-HBO-repeats, not-guite-as-good-as-an-adult, but-still-holds-a-soft-spot-in-my-heart group. Add to that Caveman ("Zug, zug."), Night Shift ("Love brokeeeeeeerrrrrs!") and Hollywood Nights ("He vas holding it vith his dick!").
July 22, 2008, 10:03 a.m. CST
I know Quint reviewed this and I finally saw it. Wanted to go back to his review. Throw in Papillon into the search engine and somehow it's never seen that word before cause no results came up. Any help here?
July 22, 2008, 10:19 a.m. CST
by Abominable Snowcone
in your search
July 22, 2008, 10:22 a.m. CST
holy crap. Sorry guys but Porkys and Porkys Revenge were on cable this past weekend and just for giggles I thought I would watch em.<p> They stink. Bad. Saying Meatballs "...is no Porkys" is barely a slight. Its not as if ANY of this batch of teensploit movies were really any good. They pushed the limits of what could pass for a PG movie at the time, and the plot was woven around how they could get teen girls naked on film. They dont age well, and neither did these movies.
July 22, 2008, 10:30 a.m. CST
Burton's Wonka this past Sunday.<p>Good God Almighty, that is one terrible movie. It has horrible dialogue. It has horrible acting (Mister Depp has never been worse), and they made some changes to the actual story that managed to remove some of the GREATEST moments in film. Spoilery example: There's a touching moment where Uncle Joe says to Charlie, "c'mon. If Slugworth wants his everlasting gobstopper, he'll get one." to which Charlie, accepting that he had broken the rules, knew that vengeance and bitterness were not right - not good. He quietly puts the candy on Wonka's desk. And in this absolutely beautiful little shot, Wilder lifts his fingers and gently covers the candy. Its one of those itty bitty little moments in film that just makes your heart leap inside your chest. In Burton's vision, Wonka forces Charlie to choose between owing the factory or keeping his family. Charlie says, "I'll keep my family" and Wonka says, "well okay" and whoooosh he's gone with his elevator.<p> That is completely inept writing, directing, and acting. Its flaccid, uninspired, and pointless idiocy and nothing more. Never have I been more underwhelmed by an overly hyped movie in my life, and I saw Highlander II on opening night.<p> Wilder's Wonka is this full-of-youthful-zeal eccentric man who just wants to make children's lives happy and frivolous and filled with candy. Depp's Wonka is a sociopathic man-child who ran away from home as a boy because his dentist father was a little zealous about dental hygiene.<p> As a movie, its an absolute disaster. It has some excellent cinematography, but the story is horrible. The music is horrible. The dialogue is horrible, and the acting itself is horrible. Seriously, did anyone like this movie? anyone at all?
July 22, 2008, 10:31 a.m. CST
i called him Uncle Joe above. can't find the edit button, either.
July 22, 2008, 10:33 a.m. CST
Saying something doesn't hold up to Porkys hurts the credibility of almost any review. Does hit hold up to Death Wish 3 or Dr. Giggles?<br><br>Saying he should have jumped to My Bodyguard suggests he hasn't seen the film. He is only looking at movies he hasn't seen, so why throw out fairly common movie names?
July 22, 2008, 11:07 a.m. CST
great film..classic...i get all nostalgic watching it...total late 70's time capsule.
July 22, 2008, 11:22 a.m. CST
And INWO, you'll note that when I suggested it I also asked if he'd already seen it or not. And considering he hadn't seen "Meatballs," "The Sure Thing," or "On Golden Pond" (all early 80's movies, like My Bodyguard, and all WAY more "common" than My Bodyguard), it's certainly not a stretch to think he maybe hadn't seen it, either...
July 22, 2008, 12:13 p.m. CST
depps wonka was a bit closer...strange and evil...i suggest you read the book again...burton's charlie and the chocalate factory was not a remake of the movie, it was another version based on the book...there is no storyline with slugworth in the book, they only added that to make the plot stronger...and the charlie in the original movie is not the charlie from the book....so stop your bitchin and read
July 22, 2008, 12:14 p.m. CST
but you probably arent a boingo fan either
July 22, 2008, 12:30 p.m. CST
by Drunken Rage
as I recall. She was the brunette who was kind of the hot blonde's sidekick.
July 22, 2008, 1:12 p.m. CST
by Darth Macchio
The brunette was Murray's girl, Roxanne (Kate Lynch). DeBell's character name was 'A L' and was the cute 'girl-next-door' type with kinda dirty-blonde hair and yes she did a straight up hardcore porn flick back in the day.<p>Oh and Meatballs doesn't live up to Porky's? Are you kidding? Please...the only reason Poky's exists is nudity...in particular full frontal nudity (Catrall and the shower scene). The whole racial thing is ok but the movie is all one-liner jokes (some of them actually funny, most not) and then gratuitous nudity. This is not remotely a bad thing mind you...but the story is ass compared to the story in Meatballs. Sure the comedy might not hold up and if you're under 25, it probably won't be funny whatsoever...but Meatballs a MUCH better movie than Porky's.<p> Meatballs had heart...Porky's just had bush. You get better bush with real pron so where's the redeeming quality of Porky's today? Kim Catrall when she was younger and actually hot? Ok, agreed, but not enough to make it better than MB...anything else? No? (the 'Mike Hunt' gag doesn't count..it's practically a 'knock - knock' joke fer chrissakes!)<p>That's why Meatballs is better (opinions, obviously, not withstanding).
July 22, 2008, 1:30 p.m. CST
July 22, 2008, 2:23 p.m. CST
July 22, 2008, 2:34 p.m. CST
by Stuntcock Mike
"You ever see a monk get wildly fucked by some teenage girls?......So much for the monestary.
July 22, 2008, 3:43 p.m. CST
I saw it as a kid and just thought it was a hilarious movie. The next day in school, every kid in class was quoting lines from it. Funny! And Makepeace was PERFECT casting.
July 22, 2008, 4:13 p.m. CST
during Sexual Awareness week. We import two hundred hookers from around the world, and each camper, armed with only a thermos of coffee and two thousand dollars cash, tries to visit as many countries as he can. The winner of course is named King of Sexual Awareness week and is allowed to rape and pillage the neighboring towns until camp ends."
July 22, 2008, 4:15 p.m. CST
I never mentioned the book. I was simply pointing out how full of utter suck and fail the Burdon Wonka movie was, compared to the original movie.<p> The book could be a snuff poem written in ancient cuneaform for all i care.
July 22, 2008, 4:16 p.m. CST
Burdon / Burton
July 22, 2008, 4:25 p.m. CST
Hate to clue ya in on this but the average American spends more than 4 hours a day watching Tv, playing video games or or on a home computer.
July 22, 2008, 4:26 p.m. CST
In the scope of human waste, Quint's is nonmentionable
July 22, 2008, 5:15 p.m. CST
by Jonas Grumpy
Those gals are hot, and I'm sure they helped create my "ideal woman" back when I was 12 in '79. <BR><BR>Not so much the one with the glasses, though.
July 22, 2008, 5:17 p.m. CST
by Jonas Grumpy
That artist had an obsession with stripes, eh? <BR><BR>Also, it was painted without any photographic reference, evidently. Which one is Bill Murray supposed to be, fer Chrissake? Stupid Brits... ;)
July 22, 2008, 5:44 p.m. CST
I hadn't seen this film in many years and recently I became nostalgic and decided to give it another viewing. In a word, crap. An awful, predictable film with nary a laugh. What else doesn't hold up? Stripes. There, I said it.
July 22, 2008, 9:26 p.m. CST
had a huge influence on films at this point in time. All I'm saying. And joeelliott, can you tell me what anime is?
July 30, 2008, 10:16 a.m. CST
You may not know this, but back in the way back days, there weren't guys who were masters of the wise-ass. I mean, we had Donald Sutherland in The Dirty Dozen, and he and Elliot Gould in MASH...but those weren't youth-oriented, really. And I was WAY too young to get the Alan Arkin Catch-22 humor. So, we see Bill Murray being an adult but acting like a fucking kid and some of us go 'Fuck yeah, I don't have to be a boring dipshit like the other adults in my life.' Bill Murray is the oly reason to watch this flick. <p>Chris Makepeace went on to star with Jayne from Firefly in the baddest motherfucking movie I've ever seen where a bald guy AND Matt Dillon get their fucking asses kicked by a pussy and a sociopath, 'My Bodyguard'. The broad from Harold and Maude plays Makepeace's gramma in it...and is awesome.<p>But I digress, the fact is that Bill Murray in this flick introduces his 'smart-ass with a heart' character that smart directors of the day like Reitman would take and run with, and put him out there as Bill Murray...fuck, this movie was the birth of a personality profile for just about every post-boomer, early Gen-Xer...we all became wannabe's at that point, and while I adore George Carlin, he was a brilliant genius, and Bill Murray's comic timing and attitude were an attainable goal.<p>That's my opinion anyways.
Aug. 4, 2008, 8:14 p.m. CST
by Red Dawn Don
Like a previous poster said "It Has Heart. At first, I was expecting a high production comedy instead of a home movie type affair. Upon further viewings, I would not change a thing. As Tripper prankingly told the newscaster in the bus parking lot, at the beginning of the movie: "But, the real excitement of course is going to come at the end of the summer, during Sexual Awareness week. We import two hundred hookers from around the world, and each camper, armed with only a thermos of coffee and two thousand dollars cash, tries to visit as many countries as he can. The winner of course is named King of Sexual Awareness week and is allowed to rape and pillage the neighboring towns until camp ends." Bill Murray at his funniest.
Aug. 4, 2008, 8:40 p.m. CST
by Red Dawn Don
We are the C. I. T. s ... So pity us. The kids are brats ... The food is hideous. We're gonna smoke and drink ... and fool around. We're nookie bound. We're the North Star C.I.T.'s
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