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Film / Meatballs

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A 1979 comedy about a summer camp, directed by Ivan Reitman and starring Bill Murray.

At Camp North Star, Tripper Harrison (Murray) leads the counselors in Wacky Hijinks against both their strait-laced boss Morty and the evil-ish rich-kids camp across the lake.

Followed by several In Name Only sequels, none of which featured Murray or any of the rest of the original cast.

This film contains examples of:

  • Battle Chant: A non-military version of this. The Camp North Star summer camp is losing badly to their rivals Camp Mohawk. Head Counsellor Tripper Harrison gives the Camp North Star members a rousing speech including the slogan "It just doesn't matter", and by the end they're all chanting it.
  • Big Eater: Both Fink and "the Stomach" in the hot dog eating contest.
  • Burping Contest: Tripper has a friendly belching contest with Rudy.
  • Butt-Monkey: Morty and Spaz.
    • Rudy is mostly treated as this off-camera. He gets better.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Rudy and Tripper bonding as early morning joggers. Rudy's marathon win against the Camp Mohawk ringer gives Camp North Star its victory over the hated rich-kid's camp.
  • Coming of Age: Rudy is the loner geek kid suffering at the camp who learns to accept the challenges of growing up, instead of withdrawing from the world. Also, he wins a ton of peanuts from Tripper in a poker game.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Tripper.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: Spaz, whenever he's around busty Wendy.
  • Eating Contest: There's a hot-dog eating contest as part of the competition between the two camps.
  • Failed a Spot Check: At the end Tripper moves Morty's bed with Morty in it to a raft on the lake. Morty doesn't notice until he falls into the water. Morty just waking up might explain some grogginess, but waking up to the sky should have been an eye opener.
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  • Fat Best Friend: Fink is this to Spaz of the Type A variety.
  • Ghost Story: Tripper tells a ghost story (the urban legend "The Hook") to the children around a campfire. At the end he reveals that he is wearing a hook, causing the kids to run off screaming.
  • Heavy Sleeper: Morty sleeps so soundly that one of the running gags of the movie was to move him and his bed into strange places.
  • In Name Only: None of the sequels had anything to do with the original outside of being set in a camp. The second film was a Dolled-Up Installment shot under the name Space Kid while the third and fourth films threw out the concept of the relationships between the campers and the counselors in favor of ripping off the Porky's franchise.
  • Mystery Meat:
    Tripper:Here's an update on tonight's dinner. It was veal. I repeat, veal. The winner of tonight's Mystery Meat contest is Jeffrey Corbin who guessed "some kind of beef."
  • Rousing Speech: Tripper's terrific "it just doesn't matter" rant rouses the entire camp to victory, even while emphasizing the superiority of their opponents and underscoring the pointlessness of the game.
  • Slap-Slap-Kiss: A lot of that going on between the guys and girls' counselors, but the movie focuses on the crazy relationship between Tripper and Roxanne.
  • Slobs vs. Snobs: The slobs from Camp North Star versus the snobs from Camp Mohawk. Tripper gives an iconic speech just before the climactic showdown admitting that beating the snobs won't matter, since even in defeat they'd still be rich.
  • Spiritual Successor: To Animal House. It helps that Ivan Reitman and Harold Ramis worked on that film as well.
  • Summer Campy: The first one is arguably the funniest Summer Camp movie yet made.
  • Understatement:
    • During the basketball game between the North Star campers versus the Mohawk guys: "Our guys don't look so good."
    • Also: "Well, the zone is not working..."
  • The Voice: Tripper does double-duty as the P.A. announcer for the camp. Thank God Tripper is played by Bill Murray.
    Tripper: Important announcement, some hunters have been seen in the woods near Piney Ridge Trail and the Fish and Game Commission has raised the legal kill limit on campers to three. So if you're hiking today, please wear something bright and keep low. Good luck.
    Tripper: Attention, campers. Arts and crafts has been canceled due to bad taste. All junior girls are now junior boys. And Nurse DeMarco says that raccoon fever epidemic is officially over! Hey! You on the water skis! (guy on the skis freaks out and falls into the lake)


Example of: