Blu-ray Review: Heavyweights (1995)

heavyweights blu-rayI’m going to put this right out on front street, I watched Heavyweights because some super nice PR people sent me the Blu-ray for review. However, it’s because I was sent the actual press release that I became interested in this film. I don’t know if I would have known that Judd Apatow wrote and produced the flick otherwise. Don’t worry about a tainted review, though, because as it turns out, this is the kind of movie I would have loved if I’d seen it back when it premiered in 1995.

At that time I was around 12 years old and a big, big fan of the first two Mighty Ducks movies and a movie called Camp Nowhere which shares some similar plot points with Heavyweights. Speaking of similarities, Heavyweights shares like four cast members with the Mighty Ducks franchise and was directed by that film’s co-writer Steve Brill.

The movie is about a kid named Gerry who gets sent to fat camp by his parents. The original, easygoing owners of the place — played by Jerry Stiller and Anne Maera — lose ownership very early on to Ben Stiller as the super-into-fitness new owner. Much like his character in Dodgeball, Stiller’s super intense which winds up driving the campers crazy. After one too many injustices, the kids capture Stiller, have a crazy food orgy (that’s actually the title of the chapter on the Blu-ray menu) and then decide to take over their own weight loss, the idea being that you’re not a bad person because you’re heavy, but it’s also not healthy to be heavy. Or something along those lines.

Familiar faces from the camp include Kenan Thompson (Mighty Ducks 2, SNL), Shaun Weiss (Goldberg from Mighty Ducks), Paul Feig (co-creator of a little show called Freaks & Geeks), Jeffrey Tambor (Arrested Development) and even Allen Covert (star of personal favorite Grandma’s Boy). That’s a lot of people from things I already love. There’s a lot of other people in the movie too, many of which I was reminded of and updated on by the Where Are They Now feature on the Blu-ray. That was but one of the many special features I checked out. I was also a fan of the Skype conversation between Apatow and Thompson where the former interviewed the latter on his experience during filming. I also really liked the shot-when-the-film-was-shot Making Of featurette. I assume it was shot for Disney Channel or something along those lines because it features interviews with guys like Stiller, Apatow and director Brill. I haven’t had a chance to check out the Super 8 footage, the deleted/extended scenes or the audio commentary, but I’m excited to get to them.

At the end of the day, I had a pretty great time watching this movie. It’s hard to watch a movie for kids and place it within your already existing pantheon of childhood favorites, but I think I would have liked this movie a lot. So, if you already dug this movie, definitely pick up the Blu-ray and dive into the special features after watching the pristine-looking film. If you’re not already fan, but like 90s kid comedies along the lines of Mighty Ducks, I’d recommend giving this one a rent.

Best Of The Best: Grandma’s Boy (2006)

It’s been a while since I did one of these Best Of The Best posts because I’ve been watching and reading mostly newer stuff that I haven’t seen before and Best Of The Best is reserved for movies, comics, books and eventually records that I truly love. So, in the hierarchy of UnitedMonkee there’s good, great, awesome and then BOTB. And Grandma’s Boy is easily BOTB material even though it’s a relatively new movie.

I was one of the few people that actually went to the theaters to see this movie with some friends. I don’t mean that to sound like I’ve got street cred or anything (I’m not saying I knew Pavement before they got mildly popular), I just mean that the movie didn’t do very well because most people didn’t see it until it came out on DVD. At the time I was a research assistant at Wizard and basically living the dream. I got to work in comics with some rad people. Sure there was bullshit going on, but who cares?

I don’t remember why we went to see GB, actually. It might have appealed to some of my weed loving friends or maybe someone was a big fan of Adam Sandler’s friends, but whatever the reason, we went to the Palisades Mall, got some 2-for-1 beers at Chilis and then stumbled over to the theater for 94 minutes of hilarity.

Aside from being a genuinely fun and hilarious movie with a solid cast (excepting maybe star Allen Covert) that includes Doris Roberts, Nick Swardson, Jonah Hill, Linda Cardellini (from Freaks & Geeks), Joel Moore (of Dodgeball and Hatchet fame), Kevin Nealon, Peter Dante and Shirley Knight (Partridge Family) with cameos by David Spade and Rob Schneider, though curiously not Sandler himself, this movie holds a special place in my heart because it reminds me of how fun working with rad people can be. I know that sounds lame and sentimental, but Brainasium really does remind me of Wizard in a lot of ways. It sure as hell didn’t look as awesome as their place, but there’s a lot to relate to.

The idea behind the movie is that Allen Covert gets kicked out of his place and starts living with his grandma, played by Roberts and her roommates, one of which is Jones. He works as a video game tester and their newest game is running a little behind so boss Nealon hires Cardellini to come in and make sure everything’s on track. From there we meet the interesting, hilarious and seriously weird characters who work in that environment. Sure many of them are over the top, like Moore and some are just sort of there like Hill, but they all make this awesome tapestry of funny that keeps chugging a long, keeping me laughing the whole time.

I get that this one’s not for everyone. There’s a lot of weed humor, plus it’s definitely kind of a dumb comedy, but it holds a special place in my heart and makes me laugh every time. Like earlier today when I popped it in and was both saying lines as they happened (“I’m thinking of getting metal legs.”) and still being surprised here and there (I always forget Hill’s in this movie). So, if you haven’t seen it, I recommend it, though I worry that it might have been too hyped up (and yes, I realized I’m actually adding to that hype). Go out, check it out and enjoy!