Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Steven Brill|
|Produced by||Roger Birnbaum|
|Written by||Steven Brill|
|Music by||J. A. C. Redford|
|Edited by||C. Timothy O'Meara|
|Distributed by||Buena Vista Pictures|
|Box office||$17.6 million|
Heavyweights is a 1995 American comedy film directed by Steven Brill and written by Brill with Judd Apatow. The film centers around a fat camp for kids that is taken over by a fitness guru named Tony Perkis (Ben Stiller).
As school ends for the summer, Gerry Garner (Aaron Schwartz) is sent by his parents to Camp Hope, a weight loss camp for boys. Despite worrying at first, Gerry makes friends easily at camp and learns that Camp Hope won't be nearly as bad as he thinks because as veteran camper Roy (Kenan Thompson) put it, "You're not the fat kid, everyone's the fat kid"). He also discovers that the other campers have smuggled in enough junk food to easily stave off the hunger pangs and probably counteract any weight loss that the camp programs cause.
But all is not well at Camp Hope. The first night of the summer brings the revelation that the original owners of Camp Hope, the Bushkins, (Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara) have entered bankruptcy and the camp has been bought by fitness entrepreneur Tony Perkis (Ben Stiller), who announces his plan to make the camp's new exercise regimen into the top weight loss infomercial in the country. Tony tries to make himself seem like someone the campers can relate to, saying that he was a fat kid when he was younger too, but his methods of motivating the campers border on psychotic.
Tony cleanses the cabins of the campers' food caches, cuts off their contact with the outside world, and installs an exercise outline of trendy fitness techniques that downplay fun to the point of humiliation, including arranging the camp dance with Camp Magnolia, the summer camp for girls in order to humiliate the campers into losing weight but Tim, one of the counselors, had all of the campers dance altogether to make dancing fun. During the events, Josh taunts Tony for Gerry's protection which results him getting kicked out of camp without a refund. Many campers spread rumors and theories about what happened to Josh after this. However, Josh's father, who is a lawyer, threatens to sue Tony for not getting a refund and it leaves Tony no choice but to bring Josh back to camp.
One day, when Tony went out for a morning run, Gerry, Josh, and the other campers sneak into his office to search for food. They find that Tony has been keeping all of the letters that the campers have sent to their parents about their complaints of their hardships, including the letter that Gerry wrote to his grandmother. The campers sneak out of the office when Tony comes back. The campers discover a secret food stash (which is restocked by other people in exchange for money at night) and actually gain weight despite Tony's fitness regimen. Eventually, at the halfway point of summer, Tony decides to weigh the boys and mark their progress. Once he realizes that the boys have been gaining weight instead of losing it, Tony forces them on a 20-mile hike, reasoning that this will not only help the boys work off some of their extra weight, but will also restore discipline. On the hike, the campers trick Tony into falling into a deep pit, severely injuring him. The boys bring Tony back to camp and imprison him in a makeshift cell of chicken wire electrified with a bug zapper. They also undo all of Tony's modifications to the camp, and incapacitate his counselors, some of whom eventually turn to their side.
In the celebration of Tony's downfall, the boys throw a bonfire party with a lot of binge eating. They order in junk food such as pizzas and submarine sandwiches, gorge themselves on chocolate and drench themselves in soda.
The next morning, Pat Finley, a counselor who had come to Camp Hope every summer since he was 10, tells the kids to finally start taking responsibility and start actually losing weight. The boys begin following a more healthy regimen and start to make Camp Hope a fun place again.
On parents' visiting day, the parents are shown a video of Tony's cruelty. While they are watching, Tony escapes his prison and ends up exchanging quips and then blows with Gerry's father. In an attempt to make an impressive exit, Tony attempts a series of backflips, stumbles, and incapacitates himself. The parents tell Tony his days of terrorizing their kids are over. Tony's own father shows up to take the keys and deed for the camp away from his son to ensure this doesn't happen again. He states that the camp will be closed, and all of the money paid for admission refunded.
But the campers don't want to leave Camp Hope. Despite Tony Perkis, the camp and the friends they have made are still a lot of fun, so Tony's father appoints Pat as the camp leader. Afterwards, Pat starts really putting the campers to work to win an annual competition against some rather athletic, and perhaps somewhat over-competitive campers who are trained to go at this competition with everything they have, which up until Pat took over made the competition rather one-sided. Pat, however, has been training them not to lose hope, and just to have fun, which they do. It turns out that they have just enough ability to win, which they do in the end, to the distress of the counselors at the overly-competitive athletic camp, who have already decided that the trophy belongs to them, and believe that Pat is crazy for being more concerned about having fun than winning. Pat has the trophy thrown into the lake and then kisses Julie, the camp's new nurse whom he'd been developing a relationship with throughout the film, in triumph as Gerry thanks Pat for the greatest summer of his life.
Heavyweights was filmed over the course of two months in North Carolina at Camp Pinnacle Filming started on March 28, 1994 and finished on May 25, 1994.
|Song||Written by||Performed by|
|"Closer to Free"||Sam Llanas and Kurt Neumann||BoDeans|
|"Le Freak"||Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers||Chic|
|"Saturday Night"||Bill Martin and Phil Coulter||The Bay City Rollers|
|"You Sexy Thing"||Errol Brown||Hot Chocolate|
|"Love Machine"||Warren Moore and William Griffin||The Miracles|
|"Hang Tough"||Allen Toussaint||Crescent City Gold|
|"Set the Wheels in Motion"||Barbara Keith||The Stone Coyotes|
|"I Want Candy"||Bert Berns, Robert Feldman, Richard Gottehrer, and Jerry Goldstein||Bow Wow Wow|
|"Blue Danube"||Johann Strauß|
|"Thieving Magpies"||Gioachino Rossini|
|"Camp Hope Concerto"||Paul Feig||Paul Feig and The Camp Hope Kids|
According to Stephen Holden of The New York Times, "Heavyweights is really two movies in one, and they don't mesh. One movie is a no-holds-barred spoof of a Tony Little- or Susan Powter-style fitness merchant [...] The other movie is a conventional family comedy that pokes lighthearted fun at the chubby young campers."
In 2012, on the release of the Blu-ray, critic Brian Ordorff gave the film a grade "B" and wrote: "Time has been kind to the discarded fat camp movie, finding Heavyweights more digestible these days, after years spent processing the askew sense of humor shared by Apatow and Company."
Heavyweights was released on VHS and LaserDisc on February 20, 1996, and released on DVD on March 3, 2003. Heavyweights was released on Blu-ray on December 11, 2012. It was also included on Disney Plus in November 2019.