Heavyweights (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)
December 8, 2012 by Dennis Amith
“Heavyweights” is a PG popcorn comedy film that will entertain families and for those who grew up with this film. It’s not for everyone and some people may find the film insulting to people who are overweight. But if you are sensitive to jokes about those who are overweight, then this film is not for you. But for those with an open mind to Apatow comedies, including this earlier film, may find it to be entertaining and fun. Plus, with a Blu-ray release that looks and sounds good and with so much additional content included, fans of “Heavyweights” will definitely want to check this Blu-ray out!
FILM RELEASE: 2012
DURATION: 97 Minutes
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:85:1), English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English SDH, French and Spanish
COMPANY: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
RATED: PG (For Some Rude Language and Pranks)
Release Date: December 11, 2012
Directed by Steven Brill
Written by Judd Apatow, Steven Brill
Produced by Roger Birnbaum, Joe Roth
Executive Producer: Judd Apatow, Sarah Bowman
Associate Producer: Jack Giarraputo
Co-Produced by Michael Fottrell, Charles J.D. Schlissel
Music by J.A.C. Redford
Cinematography by Victor Hammer
Edited by Carroll Timothy O’Meara
Casting by Lynda Gordon, Judy Taylor
Production Design by Stephen Storer
Art Direction by Jack Ballance, Harry Darrow
Set Decoration by Chris L. Spellman
Costume Design by Kimberly A. Tillman
Ben Stiller as Tony Perkis/Tony Perkis Sr.
Aaron Schwartz as Gerald “Gerry” Garner
Kenan Thompson as Roy
Shaun Weiss as Josh Burnbalm
David Goldman as Nicholas
Joseph Wayne Miller as Sam
Cody Burger as Cody
Allen Covert as Kenny
Tim Blake Nelson as Roger Johnson
Nancy Ringham as Mrs. Maury Garner
Tom McGowan as Pat Finley
Tom Hodges as Lars
Leah Lail as Julie
Paul Feig as Tim
Jeffrey Tambor as Maury Garner
Jerry Stiller as Harvey Bushkin
Anne Meara as Alice Bushkin
From the Producer of Bridesmaids…comes Heavyweights, a comedy of enormous proportions! It’s the hilarious story of a group of underdog kids who discover their beloved summer camp has been sold to a crazy fitness fanatic (Ben Stiller) who’s determined to make their lives miserable! The new owner plans to keep the boys huffing and puffing, but these hungry kids have a plan of their own. They unite to turn the tables, take back their woodsy hideaway and challenge the rival camp to the most outrageous summer games of all! You’ll laugh out loud with these Heavyweights – they’re big, loud and proud, and ready to win their way into your heart!
For a few filmmakers, before they achieve popularity they have to start somewhere. And for Judd Apatow (“Knocked Up”, “The 40-Year-Old Virgin”, “Pineapple Express”), the writer/producer started with television with TV movies for Tom Arnold and “The Ben Stiller Show”, but for his first feature film as a writer, it was the 1995 teen comedy “Heavyweights”.
While the film didn’t do well in the box office, the film received a cult following, especially since it featured the earlier work of director Steven Brill (“Little Nicky”, “Without a Paddle”, “Drillbit Taylor”) and actors Ben Stiller (“Tropic Thunder”, “Zoolander”, “Starsky & Hutch”), Kenan Thompson (“Saturday Night Live”, “Fat Albert”, “Kenan & Kel”), Aaron Schwartz (“Gossip Girl”, “The Mighty Ducks”, “Stray”), Leah Lail (“V.I.P.”, “Little Nicky”) and Shaun Weiss (“Drillbit Taylor”, “The Mighty Ducks” films). The film would also star Jeffrey Tambor (“There’s Something About Mary”, “The Hangover”, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”), Jerry Stiller (“The King of Queens”, “Seinfeld”), Anne Meara (“Awakenings”, “Night at the Museum”, “Fame”) and Tom McGowan (“Ghost World”, “Bad Santa”, “Sleepless in Seattle”).
“Heavyweights” begins with heavyset Gerry (portrayed by Aaron Schwartz) finishing high school and getting prepared for summer vacation. But when Gerry gets home, he finds out that his parents have enrolled him to Camp Hope, a weight loss camp for overweight boys.
So, Gerry heads out to Camp Hope and befriends Roy (portrayed by Kenan Thompson), Josh Burnbalm (Shaun Weiss) and other overweight children who are looking forward to a fun camp (especially since they hid a lot of their junk food inside their cabin). And watching over them is 18-year camp counselor Pat Finley (portrayed by Tom McGowan), Roger Johnson (portrayed by Tim Blake Nelson) and first year nurse Julie (portrayed by Leah Lail).
All kids are excited about camp but are given bad news when the owners, Harvey (portrayed by Jerry Stiller) and Alice Bushkin (portrayed by Anne Meara) tell the students that they were unable to keep the camp up and thus, they had to sell Camp Hope to a new owner.
And that new owner is Tony Perkis (portrayed by Ben Stiller), the son of Tony Perkis Sr., the maker of light fixtures. And the first thing Tony does is bring in his new staff and tells each of the attendees that he is going to make a lot of money through Camp Hope by creating a weightloss informercial using the camp attendees. And he will do all he can to make sure these kids lose weight and make him rich.
The kids are not receptive to the new owner, especially under his demands, especially the demands of his new staff including Lars (portrayed by Tom Hodges) and when Tony tries to make life harder for the kids by taking away their secret food stash and eliminating everything that made camp fun, the kids try to find a way to rebel.
“Heavyweights” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:85:1). Surprisingly, I was expecting this ’90s film to look a bit soft. But it actually looks quite good for its age. Shot outdoors, the film looks bright and colorful, skin tones look natural and the film looks good overall. Granted, the film still looks like a film from the ’90s but no doubt looks amazing on Blu-ray.
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
“Heavyweights” is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital. The film is pretty much dialogue and music-driven. Both are crystal clear and while I personally didn’t notice much surround sound use during my viewing of the film, aside from ambiance, for a film like “Heavyweights”, the lossless soundtrack is quite appropriate.
Subtitles are in English SDH, French and Spanish
“Heavyweights” comes with the following special features:
- Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary with Judd Apatow, Steven Brill, Allen Covert, Aaron Schwartz, Shaun Weiss, Tom Hodges and special guest Paul Feig
- Deleted and Extended Scenes – (1:34:32) Featuring 32 deleted and extended scenes.
- The Making of Heavyweights – (24:36) The original 1995 making of featurette for “Heavyweights”.
- Super 8 – Footage Shot by the Cast and Crew – (8:59) what kind of footage did the cast and crew capture with their Super 8?
- Video Chat: Judd and Kenan – (8:21) Judd Apatow and Kenan Thompson reflect on working together on “Heavyweights”.
- Where Are They Now? – See the Kids All Grown Up – (14:41) Featuring several of the cast members today discuss behind-the-scenes of “Heavyweights”.
- Judd’s Art Project – His Bizarre Photos from the Set – (1:53) Apatow’s intriguing photos taken of the cast and crew.
- Theatrical Trailer – (2:03) The theatrical trailer for “Heavyweights”.
What a surprise?
Judd Apatow and Steven Brill’s “Heavyweights” on Blu-ray and in the words of Kenan Thompson, “People want to see us…’Heavyweights’ in HD?”
As a fan of Kenan Thompson especially his earlier work, it’s great to see him and some of the cast of “The Mighty Ducks” on “Heavyweights”. It’s definitely not politically correct and a film about overweight kids going to a weightloss camp, yet gaining weight while in camp (and licking chocolate and sweets from each other’s body) would probably make people think “WTF!”.
But this was released during the mid-90’s, a time when “Beavis & Butthead” were on television and sensitivity towards certain issues were not a primary focus in a family film.
But as the cast will tell you on the special features, “Heavyweights” was funny and fascinating because the children in the film are overweight and the fact is that even when they weren’t filming, they were being fed with pizza and all you can eat ribs for $5. You probably will never see a film like this ever being made these days, so for comedy fans, “Heavyweights” is hilarious but also, so wrong…you feel a bit guilty for laughing.
But first, for Judd Apatow film fans, “Heavyweights” is an interesting release because it is one film you just never pictured being released on Blu-ray. But you get to see cast members when they were younger, overweight and sporting the poofy hair.
While the film’s humor is because the film exploits these overweight kids who feel nothing is wrong with them, the film does showcase them as the underdogs. Almost in “Revenge of the Nerds” kind of way, these kids who are always the loser when it comes to competing with their rival camp mates, they are always made fun of because of their weight. So, with teamwork and good thinking, these kids many not win a race or a competition of endurance but they could utilize other talents for their camp competition.
What’s interesting is the featurette “Where Are They Now?” and to see how many of these kids grew up to be thin adults. Aaron Schwartz appeared on “Gossip Girl” and he is fit, Shaun Weiss is also quite thin, it was interesting to see the various talent comment about themselves in the past and just to see how different they look in 2012.
But I enjoyed the film for it’s humor and for a ’90s film, it was a lot of fun to watch this film once again nearly 17 years later. For those that are sensitive of overweight jokes, this film is probably not for you. But these kids know they are overweight, they know that the public sees them as overweight but part of the concept of “Heavyweights” is that Camp Hope represents a place where these kids can be together and not be teased for their weight. And take part in activities without worry if they are swimming without a t-shirt on or just being among their peers and feel respected and getting support.
While this film is considered a Disney family film, it’s important for parents to know that this is rated PG and there are some rude dialogue that you probably don’t want your children to hear. Even my wife was a little unnerved to hear some of the dialogue and questioned me (since I was watching with my 9-year-old) repeatedly if this film was appropriate for him to watch.
As for the Blu-ray release, I was expecting this mid-90’s film to look a little soft but for the most part, colors are good. Skin tones are natural and I didn’t see any problems such as banding or artifacts, “Heavyweights” looks and sounds good on Blu-ray! But the special features were really awesome and I don’t think I have seen so many deleted scenes included with a film before. So, you kind of realize that there were a lot of experimentation of scenes to see what would work and what wouldn’t for the final cut of the film.
For fans of Judd Apatow or Steven Brill films, it’s important to remember that this is their earlier work. As well as for a lot of these younger talent featured in the film. But for those who grew up during this time and watched this movie in the theater or on cable, will probably enjoy the crazy humor of “Heavyweights”. Sure, the jokes are immature and juvenile, but it’s an Apatow/Brill film.
Overall, “Heavyweights” is a PG popcorn comedy film that will entertain families and for those who grew up with this film. It’s not for everyone and some people may find the film insulting to people who are overweight. But if you are sensitive to jokes about those who are overweight, then this film is not for you. But for those with an open mind to Apatow comedies, including this earlier film will find it to be entertaining and fun. Plus, with a Blu-ray release that looks and sounds good and with so much additional content included, fans of “Heavyweights” will definitely want to check this Blu-ray out!
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