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By Hal Hinson
Washington Post Staff Writer
February 17, 1995


Parental guidance suggested

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Make no mistake about it, Disney's "Heavyweights" is the best movie about calorically challenged pubescent boys at summer camp ever made. Bar none.

Considering that there are no other movies about calorically challenged pubescent boys at summer camp, this may not be the bold statement some take it to be. But "Heavyweights" -- which was directed by Steven ("The Mighty Ducks" and "D2: The Mighty Ducks") Brill -- could win only in a competition with itself.

Mind you, this has nothing whatsoever to do with the fact that the male characters here -- including the 18-year Camp Hope veteran Pat (Tom McGowan) -- are several hot fudge sundaes on the other side of well-stuffed and spend a goodly portion of the movie with their shirts off, bouncing like happy walruses off an overgrown whoopee cushion called "The Blob."

Which brings up this question: Should a kids' movie be criticized for being too goody-goody and socially sensitive and correct? Appropriately, "Heavyweights" has a big heart for the suffering of fat boys of all sizes, shapes and nationalities; and maybe this sort of motion picture marks a good -- if not perfect -- start down the road to a nation that judges a man by the quality of his character and not by the number of Gummi Bears he downs.

The real test here for Brill and co-screenwriter Judd Apatow was whether they could make a movie about fat boys that didn't simply end up as a festival of cheap jokes in sympathetic disguise. Mostly, they succeed, though the result has a rather stunted sense of humor, especially when Ben Stiller is on-screen as the Werner Erhard of slide aerobics. By the end, the film deteriorates into a combination sensitivity session and pep rally. Let fat boys be fat boys, the movie pleads. Because, darn it, fat boys are people too -- only more so.

© Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company

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