Starring: Bill Murray, Harvey Atkin, Kate Lynch
Director: Ivan Reitman
Running Time: 94 mins
Meatballs is an American film about a low-price summer camp where staff, campers and all get up to crazy mischief.
This isn’t a brilliant comedy by any means. It’s a pleasant, easy watch, but in terms of laughs, it’s not that great, apart from one thing: Bill Murray. In his breakout role just before Caddyshack, Murray proves what a fantastic comedic actor he has always been. Sure, the film itself isn’t amazing, but Murray carries Meatballs brilliantly and helps to make it an enjoyable and funny watch.
Now, even though it proved his comedic talent immediately, Bill Murray’s performance here isn’t perfect. At times, he shouts a little too much, or mumbles a little too much, but that’s something that came with inexperience. However, when it comes to providing an energetic and entertaining on-screen presence, Bill Murray is fantastic, and brilliantly steps up to the plate while the rest of the cast remains pretty dull.
Without Murray, this film would have felt so much weaker in terms of its comedy, but because his fantastic presence lifts your spirits throughout, it’s easier to enjoy and laugh at some of the jokes here and there. They may not be anything special, but there are a lot of quick, off-the-cuff remarks that do make for a better laugh than the bigger, staged gags, and it’s that that makes this a solidly enjoyable watch throughout.
In terms of the story, there’s not much in Meatballs. It does do Wet Hot American Summer‘s crazy camp counsellor characters a little better, but just like most of its main jokes, the story here does feel very thin, and doesn’t really provide any interest at all until the final fifteen minutes or so, where you get a heartfelt, pleasant and calm ending to the film, showing much more intelligence than anything before it.
Overall, Meatballs is a nice, enjoyable film. If you’re looking for a proper barrel of laughs, then this isn’t the best choice, but with a classic early performance by Bill Murray lifting the spirits of the film, there’s still some good fun to be had, and that’s why Meatballs gets a 7.1 from me.