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While I've always had fond memories of the movie, I don't think I've seen MEATBALLS ($25) since it played in the theaters back in 1979. MEATBALLS remains what it has always been, a somewhat juvenile comedy designed for a teen audience. Perhaps I've outgrown most of the film's jokes, however watching Bill Murray work is always worthwhile. Sure, Murray went on to deliver far greater comic performances in film's like CADDYSHACK, GHOSTBUSTERS, GROUNDHOG DAY and KINGPIN, but with MEATBALLS Murray still displays all the signs of his offbeat comic genius. In MEATBALLS, Murray plays Tripper, an overgrown child who gets to go to camp by working as the head counselor. Of course, because of his perpetual teenage personality, Tripper is the most popular counselor at Camp North Star. The plot of MEATBALLS gets predictable when Tripper takes one of the camp's misfits under his wing, giving his young charge enough encouragement to become a winner when Camp North Star takes on the snotty rich kids from Camp Mohawk. The cast of MEATBALLS also includes Harvey Atkin, Kate Lynch, Russ Banham, Kristine DeBell, Sarah Torgov, Jack Blum and Chris Makepeace.

I was pleasantly surprised by HBO Home Video's DVD release of MEATBALLS. Not only is the DVD wide screen (not indicated on the packaging), this disc is also enhanced for playback on 16:9 displays. MEATBALLS is framed at approximately 1.85:1 and the transfer is far better than my vague recollections of the film’s crummy theatrical presentation. This isn't to say the DVD is perfect, but it sure looks pretty darn good to me. The film element used for the transfer has a number of age related blemishes, however the transfer itself is fairly sharp and offers respectable detail. Colors are muted throughout the presentation, which is something else that I'll attribute to the age of this low budget film. Despite the muted quality of the film's colors, the hues never appear overly faded. Blacks come up a bit short in their purity, but this movie was never intended to create a reference DVD. Chroma noise didn't cause any problems with the image. However, digital compression artifacts occasionally become somewhat noticeable.

MEATBALLS sports a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack, which offers the film in stereo- a genuine upgrade from the film’s original theatrical monaural. The track sounds nice and is a bit more playful in stereo, but the overall fidelity is somewhat limited by the original production. Also encoded onto the DVD is the original theatrical monaural track, as well as Spanish and French language soundtracks. Subtitles are provided in English, Spanish and French.

The interactive menus are rather basic, providing access to the standard scene selection and set up features. A theatrical trailer, plus cast/crew biographies/filmographies are offered as supplements and are accessible through the menus.




DVD reviews are Copyright © 2000 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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