Meatballs 4 (1992)

meatballs 4

“I was in Goonies!”

The Scoop: 1992 R, directed by Bob Logan and starring Corey Feldman, Jack Nance, and Sarah Douglas

Tagline: There’s only one thing wilder, crazier and sexier then last summer – this summer.

Summary Capsule: Corey Feldman saves the day via parachute. As usual.

Justin’s rating: So what does wadded meat food have to do, exactly, with summer camp?

Justin’s review: It’s the type of summer camp that can only exist in the movies — and in our dreams. Even on the edge of bankruptcy and shutdown, Lakeside Water Ski Camp has hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of watersports equipment, is able to truck in a couple dozen 18-year-olds who could model for a living, and one token fat kid who apparently grew up in the Great Depression. They also were able to hire Corey Feldman as a recreational director, which was a big coup back in 1992, but not so much now (I think his current going rate is a free lunch).

As soft as I am toward summer camp movies, I have to admit that Feldman is the biggest draw here. For some reason, post-1989 movies that managed to snag him are always something of a guilty novelty; “This might be horrible,” you say, “But at least it has Corey Feldman!”

This is a factor the makers of Meatballs 4 — originally titled Happy Campers, which was changed to acquire the franchise for its aura and snack table — banked heavily upon. Feldman plays the wild-n-crazy counselor, who also fills in the role of inspirational speaker, hijinks coordinator, and round-sunglasses-wearer. While he’s, you know, Corey Feldman, he’s neither that funny nor cool, so you end up patronizing his presence until the bitter end.

Forging no new territory in the realm of both summer camp movies and softcore porn, Meatballs 4 lazily spins a yarn of an underdog camp that’s in trouble when the neighboring rich camp tries to buy them out — or force them out — of business. It invests zero time in giving us deep characters that fail to go beyond a two-word description (bully buddies, naked girl, haggard director, jealous jerk), and hopes that we will drink down the blended rehash tale and smile thinking about better days. Whatever you do, Meatballs 4 forbids you from questioning why both the counselors and “teen” campers appear to be pushing into the upper twenties, or how Lakeside can operate with only ten paying campers, or why the guys… why the guys… sorry, I’m trying to repress vomit here… why the guys wear bikini briefs and keep walking around in them.

I need to rinse with a little Addams Family Values. Ahh. There’s some good summer camp!

Surprisingly enough, for a lame retread of Meatballs-style camp experiences, number four here did very well in the video market. Why? I’ll hazard a guess and go with “bare bosoms” and hope that I win that round of Mutant Family Feud. Before the internet and easier access to unmitigated filth, teen boys were often forced to obtain their naughtier-than-thous from standard home video movies, which then in turn placed a much higher premium on random nakedness. Meatballs 4 is relentless and unashamed with its excuses for showcasing its cast in their birthday suits, often leading to unintentional laughs for its contrived setups.

For example, one morning, both Ricky and Neil (camp director) have a hankering for goosebumped bare flesh. So Neil starts shouting that there’s a fire over the PA system, which causes all of the campers to immediately evacuate their cabins — per fire code — with barely a stitch of clothing on. Imagining the flames licking the nubile skin of their backs, they don’t even pause to grab a towel or a pair of traffic cones before emerging in a panicked crowd by the flagpole. Neil, greatly enjoying their suggestible natures, starts yelling for them to douse each other with hoses; the campers, dwelling deep in the illusion that their sculpted bods are now the epicenter of a firestorm, quickly comply. Oh, Neil, you rascal! What fears won’t you play on to get your little jollies? And what state won’t easily convict you for sexual misconduct?

While probably better than Meatballs 3, Bill Murray has joined the ranks of those like Richard Dryfuss and Jason Biggs to see the franchise they helped propel into glory be shot, gutted and fed to wild slavering dogs with its sequels. Feldman, peace out.

"Stop saying that she's dead, wrapped in plastic, man! It's freaking people out!"
“Stop saying that she’s dead, wrapped in plastic, man! It’s freaking people out!”


  • Also entitled Meatballs 4: To the Rescue and Meatballs 4: Summer Vacation.
  • The film is perhaps now best known as the film that cult actor Jack Nance was working on when his wife committed suicide. During a break in filming due to a strong rain storm, Nance was on the phone with his wife, Kelly Van Dyke (daughter of actor Jerry Van Dyke). Nance was breaking up with her because he felt her continued drug abuse was threatening his own sobriety. Kelly told Nance that she would commit suicide if he hung up the phone. Suddenly, without warning, Nance’s phone line went dead due to the storm. Nance found out later from the police that she had subsequently hung herself, presumably because she thought he had hung up on her.
  • The counselors “rating” the incoming campers
  • The bus driver is cool
  • A lot of girls traveled on the bus in bikinis in those days
  • The fat kid’s always the loser
  • Wow… not just a little nudity in here, is there? Do girls normally share a showerhead?
  • Corey Feldman’s best entrance ever. Not many counselors arrive at camp via parachute, boombox and surfboard.
  • “Bill” and “Ted”
  • This camp has millions of dollars worth of watersports funds
  • Ah, another stereotype about how Detroit teaches all its residents to be crack shots. That’s not true — we just buy full automatics and spray randomly.
  • Corey’s suit at the dance. Ick.
  • He collects rocks. Whee.
  • A “pull my finger” joke? Seriously?
  • So do all campers tend to sleep in extremely skimpy clothes, then run out of cabins if there’s an alarm without thinking of putting on shirts or pants? And then blindly follow orders to douse each other with water and get all grabby?
  • Ricky’s “How Am I Ski Instructing?” shirt
  • Strip Charades?
  • Does any girl in this camp wear a bra?
  • That girl forgives Ricky awfully fast, methinks.
  • The triple-hinge. Not just for doors any more.
  • I find it hard to believe that if these kids were forced to strip at gunpoint, they’d leave camp.
  • Boys have no right wearing bikini briefs. None.
  • “Push rewind and save 50 cents” – that certainly doesn’t date this film!

Groovy Quotes

Ricky: Why don’t we take your little ego, and put it in a box for a while, okay. And, we’ll get back to it later.

Kyle: Who’s ever heard of strip charades?
Ricky: Obviously we all have, ’cause we’re playing it.

Kelly: Some movie star you are.
Ricky: I was in Goonies!

Ricky: Cars? We don’t need no stinkin’ cars.

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