“Are you ready for the summer?”
Bill Murray found success as one of the iconic “Not Ready For Prime Time Players” on Saturday Night Live in the 70s. And like his cohorts, Chevy Chase and John Belushi, his next career step was films. His first starring role was as out-of-control camp counselor Tripper Harrison in the comedy Meatballs. Released in 1979 and directed by Ivan Reitman, (who had just finished producing Animal House) Meatballs wasn’t exactly a children’s film. It was a bit too risqué for that, garnering a PG rating – but it was still managed to be seen by a heck of a lot of kids who still fondly remember the summer-themed film to this day.
Tripper Harrison is the head counselor at Camp North Star, a low-budget summer camp where he leads a group of hormone-crazed counselors-in-training. The only problem is, Tripper isn’t any more mature or any less starved for the affection of the opposite sex – notably the female head counselor, Roxanne. Still, Tripper does have his redeeming qualities, such as when he takes a lonely kid named Rudy under his wing. The pair soon becomes fast friends, jogging with each other every morning and soon Rudy starts developing a little self-confidence. And, he even manages to boost Tripper’s confidence a bit as well, regarding his pursuit of Roxanne.
Meanwhile on the other side of the woods lies Camp Mohawk, a more affluent and snooty organization. And with the annual Olympiad approaching, it is of the utmost importance that Camp North Star emerge victorious, even if the other side isn’t exactly playing fair, resorting rather to a bunch of underhanded tactics. But our delightful group of misfits luckily has a secret weapon that they hope to unleash at the marathon race, if he is up to the challenge.
Bill Murray brought his typically wild and zany persona to Meatballs. Chris Makepeace, who would later charm audiences in My Bodyguard, portrayed the shy and sensitive Rudy. The film did respectable box-office numbers, bringing in some $43 million and thereby green-lighting a trio of sadly-forgettable sequels that didn’t come close to matching the appeal of the original. And now, over thirty years after its release, rumors continue to surface about a remake of the film. Though, it would be hard to picture anyone but Bill Murray in the lead role, since the character traits of Tripper matched his unhinged persona perfectly. He remains the main reason this movie still ranks as a classic among its many fans.
If you count yourself among them, perhaps because of memories of your own summer camp experiences, we welcome your thoughts in our comments section.