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Theatrical release poster
Directed bySteven Brill
Written bySteven Brill
Judd Apatow
Produced byRoger Birnbaum
Joe Roth
Morgan Michael Fottrell
Charles J.D. Schlissel
Jack Giarraputo
CinematographyVictor Hammer
Edited byCarroll Timothy O'Meara
Music byJ. A. C. Redford
Distributed byBuena Vista Pictures Distribution
Release date
  • February 17, 1995 (1995-02-17)
Running time
100 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$17.6 million[1]

Heavyweights is a 1995 American comedy film directed by Steven Brill and written by Brill with Judd Apatow, and starring Tom McGowan, Aaron Schwartz, Shaun Weiss, Tom Hodges, Leah Lail, Paul Feig, Kenan Thompson, David Bowe, Max Goldblatt, Robert Zalkind, Patrick LaBrecque, Jeffrey Tambor, Jerry Stiller, Anne Meara, and Ben Stiller (in a dual role). The film follows a fat camp for kids that is taken over by a fitness entrepreneur as its campers work to overthrow him.

Though the film was initially met with mixed reviews, it found a following on home video and cable TV airings and has since become a cult film.[2]


When school ends for the summer, Gerry Garner is told by his parents that they are sending him to Camp Hope, a weight loss camp for boys. Initially reluctant, Gerry meets enthusiastic camp counselor Pat, and befriends the other campers, who have smuggled in enough junk food for the entire summer. The first night at Camp Hope brings the revelation that the original owners, the Bushkins, have declared bankruptcy and the camp has been bought by fitness entrepreneur Tony Perkis Jr., who plans to transform the camp’s weight loss program into a best-selling infomercial.

Tony replaces the camp’s beloved activities, including go-karts and ”the Blob”, with a punishing exercise regimen. Pat is replaced by the strict new counselor Lars and the campers endure a painful softball game against their more athletic, over-competitive rivals Camp MVP. When Tony purges the cabins' hidden food caches, camper Josh stands up for Gerry by taunting Tony and is sent home without a refund, which prompts the other campers to theorize about what happened to Josh after this. Tony arranges a dance with the girls' summer camp named Camp Magnolia to humiliate the boys into losing weight, but counselors Tim, Pat, and camp nurse Julie convince everyone to enjoy themselves together. Josh returns to Camp Hope revealing that his lawyer father has threatened to sue Tony for kicking his son out without a refund.

Gerry and his friends sneak into Tony's office in search of their confiscated snacks, and learn that Tony has intercepted all the campers’ letters to their families, including the letter that Gerry wrote to his grandmother. They discover a secret food stash used by most of the camp, leading them to gain weight, and Tony forces the boys on a 20-mile hike, preparing to endanger their lives for the sake of fitness. The boys trick Tony into falling into a pit and imprison him at camp in a makeshift cell, electrified with a bug zapper. With Pat, Julie, and Tim on their side, the campers take back control of Camp Hope, tying up Lars in the woods with Tony's other counselors, and celebrating with a binge eating bonfire party. Lars ultimately side with the campers due to threats of deportation.

The next morning, Pat rallies the campers to take responsibility for themselves and start losing weight and they all start a healthier regimen while making Camp Hope fun again. The boys' parents arrive for visiting day and are shown a video documenting Tony's cruelty, which is interrupted by Tony, having escaped his cell. Exchanging blows with Gerry's father, he attempts a series of backflips but knocks himself out. As Tony is taken away, Western Pennsylvania lamp store guru Tony Perkins Sr. arrives and promises to refund everyone’s money, but announces that the camp will be closed. The boys ask for the camp to stay open. Pat – with 18 years' experience and the support of Gerry and the others – agrees to assume responsibility for Camp Hope, which Tony Sr. allows.

Under Pat's leadership, the campers restore their favorite activities, and prepare to face Camp MVP in their annual competition. Camp MVP takes the lead in the first event, an obstacle course, but Camp Hope catches up in the second round, a test of knowledge. In the final go-kart race, Gerry wins the competition for Camp Hope. Demonstrating that having fun is more important than winning, Pat throws the trophy in the lake and seals his romance with Julie with a kiss. As Camp Hope celebrates their victory, Gerry thanks Pat for the best summer of his life.

During the credits, Pat, the campers, and Lars sing the "Camp Hope" song.

In a post-credits scene, Tony is now an unsuccessful door-to-door salesman selling healing crystals.



Heavyweights was filmed over the course of two months in North Carolina at 2 separate camps, Camp Pinnacle[3] and Camp Ton-A-Wandah.[4] Filming started on March 28, 1994 and finished on May 25, 1994.


The film's original score was composed by J.A.C. Redford.[5] A soundtrack was not released, but the film featured eleven songs:[6]

Song Written by Performed by
"Closer to Free" Sam Llanas and Kurt Neumann BoDeans
"Le Freak" Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers Chic
"Saturday Night" Bill Martin and Phil Coulter The Bay City Rollers
"You Sexy Thing" Errol Brown Hot Chocolate
"Love Machine" Warren Moore and William Griffin The Miracles
"Hang Tough" Allen Toussaint Crescent City Gold
"Set the Wheels in Motion" Barbara Keith The Stone Coyotes
"I Want Candy" Bert Berns, Robert Feldman, Richard Gottehrer, and Jerry Goldstein Bow Wow Wow
"Blue Danube" Johann Strauss
"Thieving Magpies" Gioachino Rossini
"Camp Hope Concerto"[7] Paul Feig Paul Feig and The Camp Hope Kids


Heavyweights received mixed reviews from critics. On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 38% based on 8 reviews, with an average score of 5/10.[8] On Metacritic, the film received a score of 42 based on 16 reviews, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[9] Audiences surveyed by CinemaScore gave the film a grade "A−" on scale of A to F.[10]

According to Stephen Holden of The New York Times, "Heavyweights is really two movies in one, and they don't mesh. One movie is a no-holds-barred spoof of a Tony Little- or Susan Powter-style fitness merchant [...] The other movie is a conventional family comedy that pokes lighthearted fun at the chubby young campers."[11] In a positive review, Hal Hinson of The Washington Post wrote, "Make no mistake about it, Disney's 'Heavyweights' is the best movie about calorically challenged pubescent boys at summer camp ever made. Bar none."[12]

In 2012, on the release of the Blu-ray, critic Brian Ordorff gave the film a grade of "B" and wrote: "Time has been kind to the discarded fat camp movie, finding Heavyweights more digestible these days, after years spent processing the askew sense of humor shared by Apatow and Company."[13]

Box office[edit]

The film made $17.6 million at box office and was not successful theatrically, though the film has garnered a cult following.[3][14][2]

Home media[edit]

Heavyweights was released on VHS on August 15, 1995, LaserDisc on February 20, 1996, and released on DVD on March 4, 2003. Heavyweights was released on Blu-ray on December 11, 2012.[15] It was also included on Disney+ in November 2019.


  1. ^ Heavyweights at Box Office Mojo
  2. ^ a b Mendez, Luis A. (July 14, 2021). ""It's A Fat Camp!": How The Box Office Bomb Heavyweights Became A 90s Kids' Cult Classic". Ordinary Times. Retrieved July 18, 2023.
  3. ^ a b Garner, Glenn (February 20, 2022). "Judd Apatow Marks 27th Anniversary of His First Movie Heavyweights with '90s Throwbacks". PEOPLE.com. Retrieved July 24, 2022.
  4. ^ "Summer Camp!". Roadtrippers. Retrieved July 2, 2017.
  5. ^ "Heavyweights soundtrack". soundtrackinfo.com. Retrieved July 24, 2022.
  6. ^ "Heavyweights Soundtrack [1995]". what-song. Retrieved July 24, 2022.
  7. ^ Heayweights Camp Song, retrieved July 24, 2022
  8. ^ Heavyweights at Rotten Tomatoes
  9. ^ "Heavyweights (1995)". Metacritic. Retrieved February 21, 2023.
  10. ^ "Cinemascore". Archived from the original on December 20, 2018. Retrieved August 30, 2019.
  11. ^ "FILM REVIEW; Spoofing the TV Gurus of Fitness". The New York Times. Retrieved June 3, 2012.
  12. ^ Hinson, Hal (February 17, 1995). "'Heavyweights'". The Washington Post. Retrieved July 18, 2023.
  13. ^ Brian Ordorff (December 12, 2012). "Heavyweights Blu-ray". Blu-ray.com.
  14. ^ Massengale, Jeremiah. "Lighthearted Humor at Fat Camp: Heavyweights". PopMatters. Retrieved July 3, 2017.
  15. ^ "Heavyweights Blu-ray". Blu-ray.com. Retrieved April 4, 2017.

External links[edit]