Heavy Weights
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Heavy Weights

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Occasionally as you browse through the new release section of your neighborhood brick and mortar store or online venue for DVDs you might notice a cover featuring a favorite actor on the cover. After you purchase it and begin to watch what becomes obvious that although the actor is prominently displayed on the cover he is not a member of the central cast. this might appear to be deceitful marketing and to some extent it is true but it also can be an opportunity to discover an early work of that performer or, at least, a flick that you enjoy but otherwise might not have taken a chance on. This can be extended to a writer or director currently occupying a place at the zenith of their craft. The point is every filmmaker or performer has to start out. It is exceedingly rare to being top billed in a highly acclaimed and lucrative movie. Michelangelo did not start with his masterpiece frescos; undoubtedly he went through a lot of rough sketches that preceded his greatness. What is frequently fascinating is the way these earlier flicks provide an insight into the evolution of the creative mind affording the cinephile with the opportunity to turn back the clock and examine the works crated during the formative period of a filmmaker as he sharpens his craft and refines his means of artistic expression.in the case of the move under examination here, ‘Heavy Weights’. A number of the people involved with this flick have gone on to much better things most particularly the co-author and director of this movie, Judd Apatow. This film was made in 1995, a considerable amount of time before his rise as a pop culture icon on both television and film. The premise of the movie is strong enough on its own merits to hold up; a story about kids away at summer camp. It is a premise that is familiar to millions of Americans; considered by many a rite of passage in our culture. many camps of this sort are designed for a specific function like cheerleading camp, band camp or the one the depicted here, a summer camp designed to address childhood obesity. This movie would serve as part of the inaugural effort that set Judd Apatow on a career largely built of the nostalgia of his generation.

For years Camp Hope has been a site of fun and friendship for the children that spent their summer vacations in its cabins. It was a camp for overweight kids to help them shed a few pounds before returning to school in the fall and Gerry (Aaron Schwartz) arrives figuring it’s not all that bad. He moves into Chipmunk cabin and soon makes a few friends. Some have even managed to bring a few delicious treats top help stave off the sugar cravings. As it is so often the case Gerry is unaware of the plight affecting the adults. In this instance the camp owners, Harvey (Jerry Stiller) and Alice Bushkin (Anne Meara), have just declared bankruptcy. The camp has been bought by an overly exuberant fitness dynamo, Tony Perkis played by the couple’s real life son, Ben Stiller. His plans for the campo are a bit extreme; to turn it into the most notable weight loss facility around and the focal point of his latest round of infomercials. To facilitate this goal Perkins has the cabins searched confiscating any contraband treats and the instillation of rigorous exercise machines and institutes a stern regime of exercise that a Marine would consider draconian. He goes so far as to cut off access to the parents ostensibly imprisoning the kids. No matter how empathic he tries to appear to the campers, Perkins’ behavior was on the verge of clinically psychotic. Perkins belittles the cubby campers including Gerry but our protagonist has a friend who steps up to his defense, Josh (Shaun Weiss). Perkins attempts to eject hi/m without refund but Josh’s father is a lawyer and the boy is quickly reinstated.

The films plays out in much the same way as you would expect. The kids instigate a rebellion to overthrow the tyrant and take control of the camp. The means utilized not only comical, incredulous and within in the context of the story, completely justified. One Perkins is confirmed to a makeshift prison cell the inmates have control of the asylum. There is an initial overindulgent celebration a former camper returns a modicum of adult direction, former counselor, Pat Finley (Tom McGowan). He returns sanity to the camp as well as instituting balanced meals, realistic exercise and, most importantly, fun. This all leads up to the all-important an annual competition at the end conclusion of the summer.

The movie was directed by Steven Brill, who coauthored the screenplay with a very young Judd Apatow. Brill would continue his career with movies that typically had a respectable return but were general considered on the silly side of the comedy spectrum; ‘Little Nicky’, Drill bit Taylor’ and ‘Mr. Deeds’. Since this movie was in 1995, Apatow had not yet reached his thirties, a decade that would explode for him. You can see the foundation that would support his trade mark themes of young people breaking away from adult constraints as demonstrated in his landmark television series ‘Freaks and Greek’s and its unofficial follow-up, Undeclared’. Both series met with premature cancellation and were largely considered in the lamentable brilliant but cancelled category. It is simple to appreciate just how ‘Over Weight’ contributed to the artistic process that would eventually culminate in these pivotal shows. These series would become instrumental to launching a generation of new actors including Seth Rogen, James Franco, Jason Segal and ‘Sons of Anarchy’s dramatic leading man, Charlie Hunnam. Alumni of the Apatow community would dominant movies and TV for years afterwards. Apatow is currently a brand name recognized for quality in both venues.

"Heavy Weights’ came about after his collaboration with the stiller family on ‘The Ben Stiller’ Show’, another cutting edge series generally underappreciated in his own time. In the case of Judd Apatow it was generally accepted that his television series met with cancellation not as a result of a lack of talent but if anything not being understood by the majority of the audience and, unfortunately, the people in charge of making the decisions concerning what we what, the network programming executives. They just didn’t get it in much the same way it is easy to overlook the embryonic genius buried in this movie.

Never Before Seen Footage
More Than 30 Deleted & Extended Scenes
Audio Commentary With Judd Apatow, Steven Brill, Allen Covert, Aaron Schwartz, Shaun Weiss, Tom Hodges & Special Guest Paul Feig
The Making Of Heavyweights
Super 8: Footage Shot By The Cast And Crew
Video Chat: Judd And Kenan
Where Are They Now? See The Kids All Grown Up
Judd's Art Project - His Bizarre Photos From The Set
Theatrical Trailer

Posted 12/29/12

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