Meatballs parents guide

Meatballs Parent Guide

Dated, awkward, and frequently obscene, Meatballs doesn’t offer much in the way of family entertainment.

Overall C-

Camp North Star is a cut-rate summer camp, run by head counselor Tripper Harrison- a deranged madman, intent on sowing chaos among the campers and staff, and having as much fun as possible along the way.

Release date June 29, 1979

Violence B
Sexual Content D
Profanity C
Substance Use C

Why is Meatballs rated PG? The MPAA rated Meatballs PG

Run Time: 94 minutes

Parent Movie Review

Camp North Star is a discount summer camp, held together by chewing gum and duct tape - when they can find it. Owned by the frazzled Morty Melnick (Harvey Atkin) and run largely by his deranged camp counselor Tripper (Bill Murray), kids at camp can expect three months of uninterrupted chaos. But when Tripper notices that one of the new kids, Rudy (Chris Makepeace), is struggling to fit in, he makes it his job to make sure that Rudy has a good time. With the help of fellow counsellor Roxanne (Kate Lynch) and their counsellors-in-training, Tripper sets out to make this summer at Camp North Star the best one yet.

Right off the bat, this is an older movie, and its age is showing. No, not the outfits, although those are soaked with the fashion stench of the 70’s; it’s the sense of what is appropriate in a kid/teen comedy. The frequent and awkward sexual innuendo makes this grossly unsuitable for kids (and almost anyone else), and one scene which is played for laughs sees Tripper essentially sexually assaulting one of his co-workers. Not terribly funny. The only reason Meatballs got away with a “PG” rating from the MPAA is that PG-13 wasn’t introduced until 1984, five years after this film’s release.

What this movie has that you don’t usually find in modern teen comedies is a surprising heart. It’s not a great comedy, but Tripper’s efforts to include Rudy are genuinely touching. Seeing Bill Murray go out of his way to be a friend for a lonely kid is downright lovely. Murray’s mix of avuncular affability and complete freewheeling insanity is easily the best part of the movie. It’s a shame the rest of the movie fluctuates between goofy and unpleasant.

It’s a classic summer comedy, with a great set (shot on location at Camp White Pine in Ontario, which still offers full summer camps), but the execution falls apart. Dated, awkward, and frequently obscene, Meatballs doesn’t offer much in the way of family entertainment. Bill Murray does his best to keep things moving, but it’s not worth sitting through the rest of the movie for his highlights.

Directed by Ivan Reitman. Starring Bill Murray, Harvey Atkin, and Kate Lynch. Running time: 94 minutes. Theatrical release June 29, 1979. Updated

Watch the trailer for Meatballs

Rating & Content Info

Why is Meatballs rated PG? Meatballs is rated PG by the MPAA

Violence: Individuals are occasionally mildly injured during practical jokes. An individual suffers a broken ankle in a sports accident.
Sexual Content: There are frequent scenes of sexual dialogue and innuendo, much of which involves teenagers in the presence of younger children. In a scene played for laughs, a man sexually harasses a woman and physically assaults her. One scene includes skinny dipping and implied sex. Teenagers are heard reading aloud from an explicit romance novel.
Profanity: There are four instances of scatological cursing and occasional terms of deity and mild profanity.
Alcohol / Drug Use: There is a reference to teenagers smoking cigarettes. Some adult characters are shown drinking champagne.

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Meatballs Parents' Guide

When Tripper sees that Rudy is having a hard time, he makes a special effort to make him feel welcome. What does Tripper do for Rudy? Have you known or do you know someone like Rudy? What did you do to help them? What can you do in the future?

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For a little more zip, middle schoolers can check out Stuart Gibbs’ Spy Camp. The protagonist, Ben, is a teen training for the CIA and has adventures at camp that are unlike anything your kids are going to experience. Thank goodness.

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Also for middle schoolers is Camp Average by Craig Battle. Camp Avalon’s campers aren’t sporty or musical or outstanding in any way that they can see. When a new director wants to make them excel at sports, the kids push back and start losing on purpose.

Home Video

The most recent home video release of Meatballs movie is April 1, 2020. Here are some details…

Related home video titles:

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