Heavy Weights Blu-ray Review
If you were told you’re going to be watching an early film comedy, written by Steven Brill and Judd Apatow and featuring Ben Stiller, Alan Covert, Tim Blake Nelson and a few of the Mighty Ducks, you would think you might be discovering a hidden gem. I know I did when I put HEAVY WEIGHTS in my Blu-ray player. And boy, was I disappointed. HEAVY WEIGHTS may go down as the least funniest comedy of all time.
Gerry Garner (Schwartz) is a husky 12 year old. He comes home from school one day to find his parents are sending him to Camp Hope, a summer destination for “husky” boys for over three decades. Though convinced he’s being doomed to a fat camp, Gerry is encouraged by the other campers he meets on the bus. Those who have been previously swear it’s a place to have fun with your friends and not worried about being picked on for being the fat kid because, basically, EVERYBODY is the fat kid. Things start off well until the camp is purchased by a former fat kid now fitness buff named Tony Perkis (Stiller) who intends to use the summer camp as a background to a weight loss infomercial he’s filming. Right about now is where, when it’s the kids against the adults, I could type the words “hilarity results” and be fairly certain it would. It doesn’t.
I would sure like to get a hold of the original script for this film. I’m sure between Brill and Apatow that it was originally full of great scenes of thin kids mocking fat kids, thin adults mocking fat kids and, of course, the big payoff of the fat kids triumphing over a thin world that sees them as freaks. Cue the loud music, end on a freeze frame of happy fat faces. Not here. Perhaps this script was so “Disney-ized” that anything remotely funny (read: mean) was cut out. Or maybe this is what studio people considered funny in 1994. To make sure I just wasn’t missing something I sent a text to my 28 year old son, Phillip, and asked him “Did you think HEAVY WEIGHTS was funny when you were 10?” His reply: “No. I actually didn’t think it was funny until I was 20 and had seen DODGEBALL.” Who says the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. He and I had both seized on the same thing. The pompous character that Ben Stiller plays in HEAVY WEIGHTS is really a pre-cursor to the even more pompous White Goodman that Stiller plays in DODGEBALL.
Cast-wise, the kids involved are pretty much your typical Hollywood fat kids – wise cracking mini-adults who’ve never met a candy bar they haven’t liked. The adults in the camp are either health-conscious Nazis or former fat kids themselves. Though, as one of the now grown up kids mentions in a special feature, HEAVY WEIGHTS is probably the only film with the directors of both BATTLESHIP (Peter Berg) and BRIDESMAIDS (Paul Feig) in the cast. Though I wouldn’t consider that reason enough to rent it.
Video: Nothing to write home about. The film is featured in its 1.85:1 aspect ratio.
Audio: The audio is presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, which ensures that all of the various body noises are head clearly.
The fact that my “Extras” review is higher than the actual film may give you the idea to just watch them instead of the film. You have my permission.
Audio Commentary featuring co-writers Judd Apatow and Steven Brill (who also directed) as well as cast members Allen Covert, Tom Hodges, Aaron Schwartz and Shaun Weiss. If the movie being discussed on the commentary had actually been made it would have been one funny film, though to compare this film to MEATBALLS is like comparing THE PIRATE MOVIE to LES MISERABLES. Another co-star, Paul Feig, adds some thoughts via phone.
The Making of HEAVY WEIGHTS (24:36): Using on location footage as a background, Apatow and Brill share some funny stories about casting and the bonds shared by the kids.
Deleted and Extended Scenes (94:32): That’s right. The deleted and extended scenes (over 30 of them) compiled here run nearly as long as the film itself. Now that might be cool on the HEAVEN’S GATE Blu-ray but here they just show a brief look at the film I was hoping to see. The full “Camp Hope” recruitment video is funny and a couple scenes look like they might now have fit the PG rating the film was given.
Where Are they Now? (14:41): In what appears to be an obvious attempt to save money it looks like Disney contacted some of the cast via Skype or asked them to send in a few thoughts on their smart phones. Probably assembled on a budget of nine dollars!
Video Chat: Judd and Kenan (8:21): Another cheap featurette, it features Judd Apatow speaking over his computer to Kenan Thompson and sharing memories of the shoot. Also a funny, brief appearance by cast member Max Goldblatt addressing some, in his opinion, unfounded rumors concerning his flatulence problems.
Super 8 (8:59): A collection of behind the scenes images with no narration. Apparently the filmmakers ran a happy camp.
Judd’s Art Project (1:53): Purporting to be a long awaited project finally finished entitled “The Angry Man,” it’s really a collection of stills taken on set with Apatow and various cast and crew. The joke is that in every photo Apatow is scowling.
Theatrical Trailer: A standard trailer as films of the 1990s go but what I found interesting was that Disney made sure to distort/doctor all of the fast food signs shown in the trailer while, in the film itself, the names haven’t been altered. A lot of work 18 years ago to wipe out McDonalds.