Meatballs (1979) - Rotten Tomatoes

Meatballs (1979)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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, Rovimore
Rating: PG
Genre: Comedy
Directed By:
Written By: Dan Goldberg, Janis Allen, Len Blum, Janis Allen, Daniel Goldberg
In Theaters:
On DVD: Nov 23, 1999
LionsGate Entertainment


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
Peter Hume
as The Stomach
Larry Solway
as Interviewer
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for Meatballs

Critic Reviews for Meatballs

All Critics (32) | Top Critics (4)

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

Full Review… | October 5, 2008
TIME Magazine
Top Critic

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.

Full Review… | July 24, 2007
Top Critic

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).

Full Review… | June 24, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

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

Full Review… | July 28, 2002
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

For those of you that are big fans of the cult comedy hit Wet Hot American Summer, Meatballs is the summer camp movie it parodied the most, even though Meatballs had a bigger heart and was strictly PG.

Full Review… | September 4, 2012

It's Murray's spontaneity that gives the movie its lifeblood. But Murray also shows an early, rare example of onscreen tenderness.

Full Review… | July 20, 2012
Common Sense Media

Audience Reviews for Meatballs

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.

Super Reviewer



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

An hilarious camp comedy starring Bill Murray, as Tripper, a camp counselor at Camp Northstar who acts like a kid himself and bonds with the other kids. Lots of memorable characters such as Rudy, the shy kid that no one wants to bother with but Tripper, Spaz, who is unlucky with the ladies, Morty, the counselor that everyone tortures and also the crazy romances between Candace and Bobby aka Crockett, A.L. & Wheeler, Spaz and Jackie and who could forget Roxanne and Tripper, and with all the battling between Camp Northstar and Mohawk you'll definitely want that second serving of meatballs! :) :) :) :)

Cassie Hill

Super Reviewer

Meatballs Quotes

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