Throwback Thursday: “Heavyweights”

With today being New Year’s Eve, I’m sure many of you are making resolutions for the upcoming year.

Some of us take these less seriously than others.
Some of us take these more seriously than others.

One of the most popular resolutions is to get in shape in the upcoming year, most likely fueled by fear of the bathroom scale after a holiday season of overindulgence and far too much eggnog.

How much is too much eggnog?
Asking for a friend.

In honor of this popular resolution, I decided to revisit the 1995 movie Heavyweights. Co-written by Judd Apatow, this film is about a young man named Gerald who is sent to a fat camp for boys that is overtaken by a tweaked out fitness guru named Tony Perkis, played by Ben Stiller.

The movie opens on the last day of school when Gerald comes home to discover that his parents think he’s fat and are sending him away to the pathetically named Camp Hope. Although initially reluctant, Gerald quickly makes friends with Josh (Shaun Weiss) and Roy (Kenan Thompson), who he seems not to recognize despite the fact that they all play on the same hockey team.

I might be mixing movies.
I might be mixing movies.

Josh and Roy reveal to Gerald that all the campers have secret junk food stashes which pretty much ensures they’re going to go home weighing more than when they started. The first day of camp is glorious and everyone is having a great time until that evening when the camp owners (Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara) announce that they had to file for bankruptcy and the camp was sold to their son fitness guru Tony Perkis who plans to turn Camp Hope’s summer into a weight loss infomercial.

You can’t unsee Ben Stiller in those shorts.

To no one’s surprise, the new camp owner is borderline psychotic and uses weight loss tactics ranging from normal (getting rid of the campers’ junk food stashes) to extreme (cutting off contact with the outside world and humiliating the campers).

Tony Perkis doesn’t fuck around.

One day, while on an excessively long hike, the campers trick Tony into falling into a large pit, severely injuring him. The kids haul him back to camp and, rather than call a medic like normal people, they imprison Tony by tying him to a chair and create a makeshift electrified jail cell around him with chicken wire and a bug zapper.


With Tony imprisoned, the campers run amuck and, while taking a break from gorging themselves on their confiscated food stores, tie one of the other counselors to a tree and cover him in honey because “bears love honey.”

I think we might be hoping for a different kind of bear.

The only counselor from the old Camp Hope, Pat, encourages the boys to actually start being accountable for their health and weight. The boys are much more receptive to this approach and start to lose weight the healthy way while still having fun.

Apparently, fat camp works because Gerald grows up to look like this:

Fat camp results may vary.
Fat camp results may vary.

At the end of the summer, the parents come back to collect their children and are shown a video of Tony being an evil fitness dictator. As they’re watching, appalled, Tony escapes his bug zapper prison and reenters the hall through the window before jumping down and staggering up the aisle.

This is the man who has been in charge of your children!
This guy is an episode of Dateline waiting to happen.

He gets into a fight with Gerald’s dad and attempt to escape by backflipping out of the hall but ends up hurting himself again. Tony’s dad (also played by Ben Stiller), arrives and takes away the deed and keys to Camp Hope from Tony. Tony’s father then announces that the camp will be closed and everyone’s money will be refunded. However, the campers love the camp so much and they don’t want to go home so Tony’s father appoints benevolent, good guy counselor Pat as the new camp director. Camp Hope goes on to win an inter-camp competition against a camp full of jocks and Tony Perkis starts selling crystals door to door. Everyone wins!

Except Ben Stiller's hair.
Except Ben Stiller’s hair.

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