Critic Consensus: Meatballs is a summer camp comedy with few surprises, but Bill Murray's riffing adds a spark that sets it apart from numerous subpar entries in a frequently uninspired genre.
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Critic Reviews for Meatballs
If one or two fall flat, so what. The next probably will hit your funnybone.
Through it all, Murray smiles and forges ahead, but his big riffs have been edited down to frantic bursts of mugging.
It's difficult to come up with a more cliche situation for a summer pic than a summer camp, where all the characters and plot turns are readily imaginable. That makes director Ivan Reitman's accomplishment all the more noteworthy.
Camp counsellor Tripper (Murray) is a John Belushi clone whose 'charisma' dominates the film's standard wackiness and sentimental story (of a kid who doesn't fit).
Audience Reviews for Meatballs
With a tip of the hat to Robert Altman's M.A.S.H,, we join 'the other guys'(who are not rich, or privileged, or anything like that) kids at summer camp as they learn important life lessons like 'we ARE just as good as the rich and privileged kids' and 'we may not have masseuses or chauffeurs but we still know how to have fun'. Bill Murray struggles under the onus of being this camp's Hawkeye Pierce, needing to be 'wacky' in nearly every scene. I smiled once, I think, catching sight of a cochroach leaving the theater.
The first of a long line of collaborations between Harold Ramis and Bill Murray, this is the original film that started the camp genre that jettisoned through the eighties. Murray plays a goofy authoritarian figure who understands the kids, but works against the administration. The camp counselors are over-sexed teenagers, and their charges are big eyed sweethearts like newcomer Chris Makepeace. The film is a very watered down kind of comedy that relies on the goofball antics of Murray and the charisma of bikini babes. The film is very sweet when dealing with the relationship between Murray and Makepeace, but otherwise the counselors seem to see their charges as annoyances. There are also relationships between the teenagers, which is where the teenage sexual fantasy aspect comes from. It's a pretty harmless, sweet comedy that has lingered in the collective consciousness for the pure reason that it's Murray at his peak goofiness.
[img]http://images.rottentomatoes.com/images/user/icons/icon14.gif[/img] Meatballs is by no means, an Ivan Reitman/Bill Murray classic. However, it has got quite a few funny moments and an energetic Murray leading the camp. The best thing about it though, was that I had a smile on my face that never faded away when I was watching it.
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