Meatballs (1979)
August 12, 2014 7:33 AM - Subscribe

Wacky hijinks of counselors and campers at a less-than-average summer camp.

Bill Murray's first starring role!
posted by doctornecessiter (8 comments total)
It makes sense that this has slipped from the public consciousness more than other movies of the era by some of the same creative team (Caddyshack, Stripes, Ghostbusters, etc.)...There's very little plot, the supporting cast is...not terrible, but not very memorable, and there's nothing all that outrageous about it. But because I was a little kid when I first watched all of these movies on TV and VHS, I always had a special affection for Meatballs because it tried to recreate an actual summer camp experience -- which I'd had* -- without going over the top. When I was once told that Meatballs sucks compared to Animal House, my reply was, "Sure, but the college experience and the summer camp experience are similar in some ways, but very different in others...They're reflecting young people at slightly different ages and with different responsibilities, and not every comedy has to be Porky's." What I'm saying is, I was Rudy, I was shy and have never been a partier so I connected to Meatballs in a way that I couldn't to crazier slobs vs. snobs movies.

* Though I went to Christian summer camps, so no morning gossip announcements about wet dreams and hooking up in the bushes. There was that stuff, but it was all passed around in giggly whispers.
posted by doctornecessiter at 9:14 AM on August 12, 2014

I hadn't watched Meatballs since I was a little kid, and I kind of forgot exactly how charming young stoner Bill Murray really is. He is such a likable guy (sexual assault notwithstanding).
posted by Literaryhero at 5:32 PM on August 12, 2014

There was a Metatalk thread where some UK mefites were explaining how calling someone a 'spaz' was horribly derogatory, and US mefites were saying that it was a considered very mild insult in the US. I didn't comment in that thread (I think it was one of those fast-moving fighty ones) but I remember thinking that Meatballs was a great example of that regional difference. Because, while I can understand intellectually why spas/spastic is so bad in the UK, as a U.S. child of the 70's I don't think it will ever strike my ear that way. Because of Meatballs, it's practically a term of endearment, and I imagine the same is true for many in my generation.
posted by oh yeah! at 7:07 PM on August 12, 2014

It's a good movie but man do I hate the sound of children singing. That opener is rough.

Is it just me or was there a period in the 80s when all the female love interests in comedies had short hair?
posted by troika at 5:09 AM on August 13, 2014

(sexual assault notwithstanding).

Yeah, that scene got sort of hard to watch the older I got. It went from "He's like a big kid, just rough-housing!" to "Um, she's yelling no and he's biting her ass. Yeesh." It's a pretty quick scene, luckily.

Same deal with the "Spaz" thing...Only it was much later that I learned what "spaz" was actually referring to, like early 2000s. Somehow the meaning of it got lost in translation from the UK to the US.
posted by doctornecessiter at 6:27 AM on August 13, 2014

I actually used the "It just doesn't matter!" chant to rally morale amongst my work colleagues at an old job when there was some weird inter-office politics going on and we needed to destress once. I think we also danced around a desk.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:04 PM on August 15, 2014 [2 favorites]

I don't have any trenchant analysis of this movie, but like others, since I was a kid when I first saw it in the early '80s, I've always loved Meatballs. So I'll just add that Brendon Small seems to love this movie too and: "The Swiss trained me to kill and I will do it" and "This is the proudest day in Camp North Star history!"
posted by ob1quixote at 12:33 PM on August 16, 2014

7.5 years later....

We watched last night for the first time in probably 30 years. Not as funny as I remember it, but overall didn't age as poorly as a lot of other movies of the time.
posted by COD at 9:33 AM on February 20, 2022

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