(Arrete de ramer, t'es sur le sable)
Format: 35mm Colour
Runtime: 94 min
Haliburton Films Ltd.
Ivan Reitman’s follow-up to the hugely successful Animal House (which he co-produced) is less ruthlessly anarchic and more sentimental, but definitely in the same mold. Relying on juvenile, bawdy humour and the hip, anti-establishment credo of its predecessor, Meatballs is set in Camp North Star, a summer camp for misfits overseen by irreverent and iconoclastic chief counsellor Tripper Harrison (the exceedingly well-cast Bill Murray, in his first starring role).
The plot is a mélange of summer camp clichés: Morty (Harvey Atkin), the dweebish, anal-retentive head of the camp, is the constant the butt of Tripper’s pranks; training counsellors Spaz (Jack Blum) and Fink (Keith Knight) spy on the girls’ cabin; counsellor Roxanne (Kate Lynch) continually rebuffs Tripper’s advances; and the camp maintains a heated rivalry with the neighbouring Camp Mohawk, an elitist haven for rich kids. Meanwhile, Tripper takes an interest in glum, twelve-year-old Rudy (Chris Makepeace), an outcast among the misfits. Tripper befriends Rudy and gives the boy a reason to believe in himself. In the film’s climactic showdown, the annual Olympiad between members of the rival camps, Rudy becomes a hero by winning a long-distance race and capturing the trophy for Camp North Star.
Despite its critical drubbing, Meatballs remains one of the most popular Canadian films of all time and spawned three sequels. It was, until Porky’s, the largest-grossing Canadian film ever, and ranked high on Variety’s list of 1979 box-office hits. The film received eight Genie Award nominations and won prizes for lead actress Kate Lynch and for original screenplay; the film also claimed the Golden Reel Award for having the year’s highest box-office receipts.