Meatballs Part II (1984) / Comedy
aka Meatballs 2
MPAA Rated: R for some suggestive dialogue, crude humor and language
Running time: 87 min.
Cast: Richard Mulligan, John Mengatti, Kim Richards, Hamilton Camp, Archie Hahn, Misty Rowe, Ralph Seymour, Tammy Taylor, John Larroquette, Paul Reubens, Elayne Boosler (cameo), Nancy Glass (cameo)
Director: Ken Wiederhorn
Screenplay: Bruce Singer
Review published October 7, 2007
Imagine Meatballs without the talent of Bill Murray. Doesn't sound good, does it? Now imagine that movie if you also replaced every cute kid with an exceedingly annoying one, all of the counselors and CITs with idiots and weirdoes, and injected subplots involving a military takeover and a space alien -- yes, you read that right. Now you have the recipe for a truly horrid sequel.
The makers of Meatballs Part II don't bother trying to allude to the first film except in title, which is a good thing, since we don't have to bother making comparisons that won't bode in its favor. Although both films are set in a summer camp for kids, that's the only correlation, as not even the camp is the same. The setting for this film is Camp Sasquatch, where somehow a juvenile delinquent named 'Flash' Carducci (Mengatti, TAG) is selected to be a CIT (counselor in training) for a cabin of young boys. He plans on paying absolutely no attention to them, while he sets his sights on the virginal beauty in another part of the camp, Cheryl (Richards, Escape to Witch Mountain). Meanwhile, rival Camp Patton, whose director of operations (Camp, Heaven Can Wait) runs it like a dictatorship, plans on taking over Sasquatch if he can. Sasquach director Giddy (Mulligan, Little Big Man) wagers the camp vs. rights to the local watering hole in a boxing match between Sasquatch's champ and that of Patton.
Although Meatballs is entertaining, it's not exactly something that couldn't be bested with a little ingenuity. Certainly, the script for Meatballs 2 by first-timer Bruce Singer (The Killing Time, Splash Too) does take things into different directions, but those directions look like they are crammed in from wildly different movies, if not galaxies if you look at the inclusion of an alien who pretends to be one of the young campers. It's as if Singer thought that what Meatballs really needed was an injection of the sophomoric hijinks of another Murray vehicle, Stripes, and the most popular film of all time (at the time), E.T. Of course, it isn't close to being as funny or inspired as Stripes (again, Murray is sorely missed) and as for E.T., the alien storyline isn't cute, clever, or remotely interesting.
The dialogue itself is way off the mark. I wasn't too far removed from the age of the kids in this film at the time it was released, but I don't remember the terminology for a "dork" being something anyone would question, and I certainly never heard of the male sex organ being called a "pinky". The alien is called "Meathead" (dubbed after a kid introduces himself saying, "Me Ted"), which I'm guessing is supposed to add to the madcap hilarity. Every character is painted to be a wild eccentric, either an idiot, despot, sexpot, sleazebag, or flamboyantly gay man. Unlike the first Meatballs which featured relatively average child characters, the kids here consist of mischievous twins, a hustler, a kid in a wheelchair, and other assorted stereotypes.
Poor make-up, special effects, and sets all add to the level of cheapness in this quickie production. Meatballs Part II is only notable for early film appearances from future stars Paul Reubens (Pee-Wee's Big Adventure, Cheech & Chong's Next Movie) and John Larroquette (Richie Rich, "Night Court"), and look quick for comedienne Elayne Boosler playing mother to a young Nancy Glass ("Inside Edition", "American Journal") in one scene. Dumb scenes like the camp overrun by Hare Krishnas and a silly boxing match where Meathead helps Flash cheat are among the "highlights", and they are downright embarrassing to watch. This in-name-only sequel doesn't even even deserve to piggyback on the popularity of Meatballs. A better name for this summer camp retread: Bummer Camp.
-- Followed by two more in-name-only sequels: Meatballs III: Summer Job and Meatballs 4 (1992).
©2007 Vince Leo