Throwback Thursday Review: Heavy Weights (1995)



Title: Heavyweights
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Posted November 17, 2016 by

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There are certain movies that I watched as a young kid that will always hold a special place in my heart no matter how outdated they become: Major Payne, Bushwhacked, Hook, and obviously Heavy Weights are just a few of them. Yes there are cheesy jokes, uncomfortable scenes where they’re trying way too hard to get an emotion out of the viewer, and always the montage of people overcoming the odds despite how unlikely it is, but these movies always strike that chord that remind me what it was like to be a kid sitting up late nights in the living room with my older brother; laughing at horrendous physical comedy or jokes I didn’t quite understand but knew I was supposed to laugh at. Every once in a while I will go back an re-watch these films just to get that feeling of being a little kid again and last night the movie that helped me get there was “Heavy Weights”.

One of the things I love most about revisiting an older movie like this is seeing the people that went on to have a careers in film that you forgot were in them: Tim Blake Nelson (O Brother, Where Art Thou?), Paul Feig (Director, Ghostbusters) Jeffrey Tambor (Arrested Development), and Allen Covert (Grandma’s Boy) are just a few that make an appearance in “Heavy Weights”. Out of all of the performances though and high profile names, Ben Stiller delivers possibly his best character ever as Tony Perkis — a workout guru who may crack at any moment. The only other one that comes close would be White Goodman from “Dodgeball”, and now that I think about it, both characters have a lot in common. They both purchase a weight loss facility, they both get disgusted by underachievers, they’re both mentally unstable, and both characters take competition way too seriously. This review was going to be about childhood and how movies play a role in being able to make us feel like a kid again but now all I want to do is focus on how Stiller’s two characters may just be the same person.

My theory is Tony Perkis started out as a fat rich kid. His father didn’t give him any attention as a youth and he thought the only way to fill that void would be to obsessively work out. Feeling sad your father is absent in your life? Run a couple miles. He didn’t care that you got good grades on your report card? Hide that sadness by doing push-ups until your arms don’t work anymore. The older Tony Perkis got, the more his obsession grew until he couldn’t even remember what being fat was like and he wanted to help other kids get there, too, he just went about it the wrong way. Because he didn’t talk to anyone about his problems, Tony was always a risk for a mental breakdown but he was able to keep that at bay for most of his life: until he ran into the unruly kids at Camp Hope. Completely losing his mind, Tony returned to his father’s estate where he re-branded and renamed himself in order to shed his embarrassing past and start over. Enter White Goodman…a fake name if I’ve ever heard one.

As White Goodman, Tony was able to become an even more powerful version of himself. Instead of buying another fat camp, he decided to buy a gym where only people as good looking and as in shape as him could work out. He was going to surround himself with perfect specimens until he could completely wipe out the memory of ever having been just an average person. He went about enjoying his life for a long time until he saw that Peter La Fleur (Vince Vaughn) was about to lose his gym. Mistaking Peter for a grown up version of one of the kids from Camp Hope, White Goodman came up with a plan to buy it out from under him and add it to his ever growing chain of corporate health facilities in his feeble attempt to take over the world. Finding himself having to compete in a dodgeball tournament, Tony…I’m sorry, White figured it was the best of both worlds: take Peter’s gym away from him and be able to throw things at him at the same time. Unfortunately Peter outsmarted him, just like the young kids from Camp Hope once did, and White had a mental breakdown just like he had had when he was still Tony. Ultimately, White becomes the fat kid that he had always hated, no matter what he called himself, and found that you can apparently be just as happy eating fried chicken and listening to Kelis’s “Milkshake”. While his father still didn’t want anything to do with him, Tony/White finally found his own version of happiness and is content being an obese man that once had had it all. That is until he ultimately tries it one more time.






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