Film Review – Heavyweights (1995)

Title – Heavyweights (1995) 

Director – Steven Brill (Little Nicky) 

Cast – Ben Stiller, Aaron Schwartz, Tom McGowan, Paul Feig, Kenan Thompson 

Plot – Chubby young boy Gerry Garner (Schwartz) is sent to a well-regarded fat camp known as Camp Hope for summer but his initial joy is quickly forgotten when crazed businessman Tony Perkis (Stiller) takes over the camp and turns into into a living hell.  

“I’m feeling skinny Tony!”

Review by Eddie on 11/11/2021

A film that I am confident is only known by name by the most committed of Disney fans and those that regularly plunge into the deep depths of cult film fandom, Heavyweights is a Mouse House production that failed to take-off in the mid 90’s but has since, against all expectations, found itself garnering a small but committed collection of fans that have found joys in this ‘fat camp” family comedy that is far more enjoyable than it has any right being. 

Directed by Steven Brill who was riding high after writing The Mighty Ducks a few years prior to this films release and who would later go on to direct such comedic masterpieces as Little Nicky, Mr. Deeds, Walk of Shame and Hubie Halloween, Heavyweights has a load of talent in front of and behind the camera with future comedy kingpin Judd Apatow one of the films writers and producers and the likes of Ben Stiller (channeling his future Dodgeball persona here), director/actor Paul Feig, Kenan Thompson, Jeffrey Tambor, Jerry Stiller and Tim Blake Nelson all appearing throughout Brill’s outing that relishes in its oddball charm and bizarre antics. 

Following the camp escapades of Aaron Schwartz’s overweight Gerry Garner, whose summer plans are scuttled when his parents ship him off to Camp Hope only for Gerry to find himself and his friends lives upturned by the camp’s sudden acquisition courtesy of Ben Stiller’s crazed fitness guru and life coach Tony Perkis, Heavyweights follows a familiar narrative of sticking it too the man and the underdogs rising up to win the day but there’s something very un-Disney about this production that feels more in line with a comedy such as Naked Gun/Top Secret or a Lonely Island adventure, even if at most times this is a very PC comedy from a group that would later on delve more into adult orientated comedy features. 

From Stiller’s scene chewing, classical music infused montages of river swims, a need to be seen to be believed late night food binge and some witty one liner’s “Attention campers. Lunch has been cancelled due to lack of hustle. Deal with it”, Heavyweights mixes its life lessons and attempt at heart warming messages with an abundance of crazed antics that ensures this is one of those rare Disney family films that is actually just as easy to watch as an adult as it would be as a child and is arguably one of the best examples of this type of a Disney offering from their active 90’s heydays. 

Only discovering the existence of this film thanks to the endlessly informative world that is Reddit, Heavyweights is the forgotten Disney film worth checking out with guaranteed smiles coming your way once you join the crew of Camp Hope for a summer adventure you’ll be glad you joined in on. 

Final Say – 

It might not be a name brand offering and it’s far from groundbreaking but Heavyweights is the Disney film you never knew you needed too see and acts as curious piece of the puzzle of the beginnings of many of Hollywood’s biggest comedy players. 

3 1/2 devil logs out of 5  

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