“Meatballs 2” is a weirdly fascinating failure – I mean, not enough to bother watching, in case you were thinking of doing that, but fascinating nonetheless. It’s got a lot of great comic actors (woefully misused). It’s an early example of the “we need to save our camp” sub-genre (done in a really weird way). Oh, and it’s got a Jewish alien dropping his son off on Earth to get a Space-Scouts merit badge (?).
But I’m getting ahead of myself! Part 2 is a movie with no central character. If you’ve seen it before, or if you watch it based on this review (please don’t) tell me who the main character is. It’s not Flash, the Fonz/Bruce Campbell hybrid who we meet first, because he’s not in it enough. It’s not the sweet, virginal Cheryl, as she’s in it even less, even though her and the other girls in her cabin drive most of the plot. It’s not camp owner Giddy, because what teen comedy has an old man star (Richard Mulligan was 52 at the time but looked 10 years older)? It’s not the younger boys and their new alien friend “Meathead”, because they have nothing to do with the rest of the movie until 5 minutes before the end. Hopefully this will illustrate what a curious experience watching this was.
Camp Sasquatch is your traditional good time, healthy outdoor activity camp, run by Giddy with help from bus driver Albert (an already-fairly-famous Paul Reubens) and head counsellor Jamie (Archie Hahn, genuinely brilliant improv comedian). Into this fairly nice place comes Flash, who is sent there as punishment for getting arrested (the days when it was that easy for criminals to get access to children, eh?), a few other undeveloped counsellors and a bunch of kids. The girls decide to help Cheryl see a penis before the end of the summer, and the younger boys – who include future TV producers Scott Nemes and Jason Hervey, oddly enough – meet Meathead the alien and occasionally have pretty low-key adventures with him, mainly centering round his ability to walk through things.
Camp Patton, over the lake, is run by Colonel Hershey and Sergeant Felix Foxglove (an appallingly unfunny homophobically camp turn from John Larroquette, who ought to be ashamed of himself). For absolutely no reason whatsoever, the local Native American owner of the lake sells it to Hershey, and he stops Camp Sasquatch from using the lake. Then, again for no reason, he agrees to a boxing match for sole possession of both camps and the lake, but sabotages Sasquatch’s champion, meaning Flash will have to step in and fight Patton’s champ, Mad Dog. Never mind that Mad Dog is played by the 6’4”, 280lb Donald Gibb whereas Flash is about 5’8” and 170lbs!
As I hope I’ve got across, none of this makes any sense at all. It feels like random bits of plot from about five different movies, just tossed together. Worst of all is the Meathead plot, and there’s a 100% chance it was written in when “ET” (released two years prior) became such a big hit. Because there’s such a prominent role given to the kids and the kid-friendly alien, that leads to the main problem with the movie…
…It’s a sex comedy with no sex in it. The girls have their plan to see “pinkies” (perhaps the only interesting thing about the movie is the driving force for the dirty stuff being women) but it’s all really chaste, with the most exciting thing a bit of kissing right at the end of the movie. No nudity, no dirty jokes, no wacky plans to get drunk or stoned, no nothing. All we’re left with is a series of anaemic pranks and farce-like scenes, with perhaps the lamest closing joke in movie history.
What makes all of this weirder is knowing who the director is. Ken Wiederhorn, as well as making underwater Nazi zombie classic “Shock Waves”, also directed “King Frat”, perhaps the all-time-great grossness for its own sake movie. What “Meatballs 2” needed was a farting competition! Well, anything other than a boxing match where one of the fighters is levitated by an alien, allowing him to win easily. But honestly, it feels like a movie made by people who’ve completely forgotten what it’s like to be young, rarely offensive in its badness (apart from Larroquette) but never any good either. It’s worse than bad, it’s boring.
Rating: thumbs down