.I know what you're thinking. Does he really mean Meatballs? Yes and I'm not referring to an extremely obscure gore flick where some maniac replaces his male victim's testicles with everyone's favorite meaty pasta accoutrement. Ivan Reitman's 1979 summer camp comedy, Meatballs, has been a favorite of mine outside the realm of cinematic head cleavings for longer than I can remember. It's curiously innocuous when compared to other teen comedies of the early '80s period, especially its raunchy mirror Summer Camp, and predates much of the horror genre's camp hackers like Friday the 13th, The Burning, and Madman. I mean, there isn't really even a hint of adult innuendo to be inferred anywhere in Reitman's breakout film behind the camera after producing John Landis's Animal House. That's extremely commendable and something seemingly lost in today's marketplace of continually winking at narcoleptic parents dragged to whatever Dreamworks-produced CG animal garbage their kids begged to see.
For that aspect alone while still being highly entertaining, Meatballs deserves its cult status, but Reitman and writers (including Harold Ramis) quietly give the film a higher purpose. Bill Murray's impromptu "stand-upish" speech in the later half in which he advises that "it just doesn't matter" whether his camp wins the games against the opposing "rich kid" camp is extremely potent in message. Of course, you could tie that phase into the current softie mentality of "everyone wins" and the banning of dodgeball from gym class, but you must consider this comedy's intended audience. Laying it out so plainly is refreshing in an age of parents having aneurysms at little league games and kids perhaps being forced into concise multi-tasking between school, sports, playing an instrument, mastering some vague form of martial art, and planning years in advance at ridiculously early ages. Who won what just doesn't matter when looking back on the experience of summer camp, or childhood in general, and Tripper's simple message reverberates through Meatballs's situational comedy as well as the rather throwaway tender story of Tripper trying to get a boy to break out of his shell. It's just a nice, sunny slice of Canadian comedic nothingness that's equally as nice to visit once and awhile with no need to squirm if kids stumble into the same room.
So where's the damn Blu-ray edition, Sony? The studio actually announced Meatballs back in the early days of the format. Then the title was unceremoniously pulled from its scheduled June 5th, 2007 release with no explaination and still has yet to resurface. I remember a rumor flying around that Sony felt their then-newly minted high definition master wasn't up to snuff, but that doesn't seem right after finally watching their '07 Special Edition DVD last night. The image quality is excellent for standard def and would have made (or will make) a fantastic Blu-ray. The colors look tinkered with, but detail is strong and it's a continuing shame the studio hasn't placed this one back into the Blu-ray loop.