Meatballs (1979) - Rotten Tomatoes


Meatballs (1979)



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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Movie Info

Set at a low-end summer camp and aimed squarely at a teen audience, Meatballs is a light screwball comedy that turned its low-budget Canadian roots into a very profitable box-office run. The biggest reason for the film's success is Bill Murray who stars as Tripper, the head counselor who runs things at Camp Northstar with the help of his love interest Roxanne (Kate Lynch) and the camp's director Morty (Harvey Atkins), who is affectionately known as Mickey. Camp opens with Tripper and Morty preparing the misfit counselors-in-training -- Spaz, Fink, Crockett, A.L., Candace, Wendy, and Wheels among them -- for the arrival of their hyperactive little charges. After settling in, kids and counselors begin their activities with a soccer game in which depressed 11-year-old Rudy (Chris Makepeace) accidentally loses the game. Cast out by the other children, Rudy runs away only to come across Tripper, who befriends the boy and makes him his running partner. Romance, sexy fun, and comic hijinx -- usually with the heavy-sleeping Morty as their target -- lead up to an annual Olympiad in which Camp Northstar battles the wealthier and athletically superior residents of Camp Mohawk. The challenging events include cup stacking, potato-sack racing, and a nauseating hot dog-eating contest in which the portly Fink devours his way to victory. With the two-day event tied up, it comes down to the cross-country run, in which Tripper enters Rudy. Meatballs was the first major directorial effort by multi-talented filmmaker Ivan Reitman, whose name has since become synonymous with the comedy genre. ~ Patrick Legare, Rovi

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Bill Murray
as Tripper
Kate Lynch
as Roxanne
Russ Banham
as Crockett
Ron Barry
as Lance
Matt Craven
as Hardware
Hadley Kay
as Bradley
Allan Levson
as Peter DeWitt
Sarah Torgov
as Candace
Larry Solway
as Interviewer
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News & Interviews for Meatballs

Critic Reviews for Meatballs

All Critics (36) | Top Critics (6)

If one or two fall flat, so what. The next probably will hit your funnybone.

September 20, 2019 | Full Review…

Through it all, Murray smiles and forges ahead, but his big riffs have been edited down to frantic bursts of mugging.

October 5, 2008 | Full Review…

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.

July 24, 2007 | Full Review…

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).

June 24, 2006 | Full Review…
Top Critic

A cheerful, if not particularly deft, summer-camp comedy.

July 28, 2002

...while Meatballs is not a very good movie, you still kind of wish you could have gone to Camp North Star as a camper.

March 31, 2020 | Full Review…

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.

Kevin M. Williams
Kevin M. Williams

Super Reviewer

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.

Spencer S.
Spencer S.

Super Reviewer


[img][/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.

Directors Cat
Directors Cat

Super Reviewer

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