Endless Bummer: Meatballs 3 – Summer Job (1986)

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By the standards of its time, “Meatballs 3” is a normal movie – really sexist and homophobic by the standards of ours, in other words – up to a point. That point is breached when the dead porn star who’s been sent down to Earth to help our hero lose his virginity gives him instructions on picking up women. “No,” she says, “means yes”. This gets repeated a few more times, and I became sad. My wife, half-watching to that point, looked at me open-mouthed, and said “I remember being younger and thinking the No Means No brigade were just stating the obvious”; my brain wandered to the numbers of sexual assaults that have been justified, down the years, with “I thought she was just playing hard to get!”

 

So I don’t just get angry for the entirety of the rest of this review, I’ll pretend it was given the best possible spin (in reality, the woman subject to this “romancing” has to knee him in the balls to get him to stop) and followed it up with “treat women as if they’re your equals –because they are – and you’ll probably do okay”. Because, take that bit out and you’ve got one of the stupidest, funnest, most OTT sex comedies of the era, one I thoroughly enjoyed in my teens and almost enjoyed as much today.

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This is a sequel, of sorts, to the first “Meatballs”. Rudy is now 16 or thereabouts (and has switched from Chris Makepeace to McDreamy himself, Patrick Dempsey) and is off to work for Bill Murray’s character Tripper at his river resort. The opening scene really lets you know what you’re getting yourself in for, as a group of people have had a bet on how long it takes the evil woman (who I’m not sure is ever referred to by name, let’s call her Cruella) to entice an erection from him just by flirting. 32 seconds, in case you were wondering – with one charmer shouting “You could hang a flag on it!” Then, as he’s leaving the diner all this has happened in, we see he was reading a book called “How To Pick Up Tons Of Horny Girls”.

 

Still with me? Wondering if Bill Murray is actually going to show up in this movie? Of course not! He’s sold the resort to Mean Gene, a member of a Hell’s-Angels-on-boats group called The River Rats, but didn’t bother telling his friend with anything as convenient as a phone call. He just leaves a letter as he’s gone off to manage a female mud wrestling group in Omaha…but Rudy’s old friend Wendy from the first movie is also working for Mean Gene, and she’s now played by Isabelle Mejias, who we saw yesterday in “Heavy Metal Summer”. She’s got the super-cute tomboy thing working for her, and it’s a damn shame her career never really went anywhere.

Isabelle Mejias - Meatballs 3

Just trying to sum this movie up is hurting my brain. I haven’t even mentioned that it appears this movie is a cheat, have I? The first five minutes tries to give the impression it’s set in the 1950s, with the cars and the diner and the music…then Rudy’s book is enclosed in a magazine called “Portable Computer”, and it’s very obviously set in the present from that moment on, which poses a few questions. Was it sold to investors as a 50s-set nostalgia trip? Or did they just have some stock footage lying around which they used to pad out the opening of their movie?

 

We can do this! We can get through this recap! Wendy throws herself at Rudy, including inviting him over to watch “E.a.t. Me – The Sextra-Terrestrial”, but he’s all about scoring with “hot” women, and his screaming to the stars “I just want to get laid!” triggers Saint Peter at the Pearly Gates. By a fortunate coincidence, the star of that porno, Roxy DuJour (Sally Kellerman, who spent the 80s in crap like this, suggesting she was desperate for the money – she’s Oscar nominated!) just died, so to help her get in “upstairs”, she needs to go back down to Earth and do a good deed, which she reads as helping Rudy have sex.

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For some reason, every asshole from the diner scene at the beginning spends the entire summer at Mean Gene’s. Now, it just seems like it’s a bar on the river, with a spot for refuelling boats, no hotel or anything like that, so…dammit, this movie has no logic and if I keep doing this the review will be 10,000 words long. Now’s the time to just throw all the weirdness “Meatballs 3” shows at the wall, and see if anything sticks.

 

How did the filthy “River Rat” Mean Gene have enough money to buy the entire resort? Why did he pretend that Shannon Tweed was his wife and not his sister, if he was going to spend the entire summer “cheating” on her? He’s not involved in the betting subplot in any way. Why does he invite the rest of the gang to hang out and drink free beer, as his business model presumably relies on partying teenagers not being hassled by scumbags? Why does the entirety of the wet T-shirt contest consist of two girls? Did Cruella really have sex with a bull at the end? For those of you who remember “Sabrina The Teenage Witch”, this is co-star Caroline Rhea’s movie debut, in an uncredited role. “Meatballs 3” evidently traumatised her to the point she didn’t act again for four years.

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Kellerman is, of course, more a hindrance than a help. After being fine with him wanting to hit on a plain-looking not-too-young biker chick at the bar (I’d lay odds on her being the girlfriend of one of the producers, as she certainly didn’t get the gig thanks to her acting), she’s disgusted that he wants to have sex with the younger, hotter woman who runs a kiosk on the waterfront, because she’s “too old”. Huh? By the end, of course, after he becomes the hero of the resort and gets respect from Mean Gene, he realises that Wendy is the woman for him, but now Wendy is the one getting help from the ghost. And “no means yes” gets illustrated once again.

 

This movie is so gleeful in its ludicrousness that, were it not for that horrible central message, it would be a “classic” of sorts. It’s just boobs, boobs, dumb joke, “you’re the faggot!”, boobs, sleazy guys, boobs, constant sex, women with no self-respect, boobs, comic violence, dumb joke, boobs, “lesson learned”, closing credits.

 

Rating: thumbs up*

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