Tag Archives: Ivan Reitman in the director’s chair

Meatballs (1979)

<strong class="MovieTitle">Meatballs</strong> (1979)

(On Cable TV, February 2019) If I’ve got my dates and players correctly aligned, Meatballs was the first noteworthy example of the underdogs comedy genre that dominated the early 1980s. It introduces not only a specific comic tone, but Ivan Reitman in the director’s chair, and Bill Murray in front of the camera. Setting a tone, Meatballs goes for a very anarchic kind of humour as the slobs take on the snobs and decidedly win. It’s more a series of comic sketches than a sustained attempt at developing a plot, and you can see the influence of this film taking over movie comedy for a few years. Fortunately, Murray is very funny—he carries the film even through the uneven surrounding material, and his riffing is often the highlight of the film. There are many, many obvious signs that Meatballs was shot north of Toronto, whether it’s the Peterborough-branded buses, Ontario license plates, Montréal Canadiens shirts, or the Ontario bus tours advertised on the wall of the local dinner/bus terminal. The film is amusing enough, but it’s now worth watching more as an early precursor to an entire sub-genre, all the way to Wet Hot American Summer and beyond.