Before Judd Apatow was pumping out brand-name-style comedic efforts at an unrelenting pace, he was an unappreciated screenwriter turning out deceptively dark material like "The Cable Guy" for wide release. But what most don’t know is that the reigning king of cinema comedy had a quick tryst working for Disney, one that turned out a cult favorite children of the 90s will always hold dear. "Heavyweights," a fat-camp ’slobs vs. snobs’ comedy, is admittedly just a minor footnote in the man’s career. But for children of a certain age, it was a comedic hallmark - "Stripes" for the Nickelodeon generation.
And thanks to his recent fame (his fourth directorial effort, "This is 40," opens this weekend,) it’s getting a Blu-ray release worthy of a masterpiece. Indeed, this slight children’s comedy - wherein Ben Stiller, as sociopathic fitness guru Tony Perkins, maniacally forces a bunch of portly pre-teens into a nearly fatal workout regime - is one of the most packed home video releases of the entire year. The extras most releases offer - trailers, behind-the-scenes featurettes, and promo items - just scratch the surface of what’s offered here.
The big "attraction" is 90 minutes (yes, ninety,) of deleted scenes. The video quality leaves a bit to be desired; the footage seems to be sourced from a VHS tape (resolution is low, and timecodes are burned in at multiple points in the frame.) Yet fans will find a lot to laugh at in the sequences contained therein, which qualify more as "unnecessary" than as "unentertaining." And for those interested in Apatow as an author, it becomes very clear that his style - to allow his actors to improvise in every scene, and to cut the film down from a huge mass of footage - was in place from day one.
And if an entire movie’s worth of deleted scenes isn’t enough, there’s a number of other features to fill your appetite. There’s a (PG-rated, of course,) commentary with Apatow and the cast reminiscing on the shoot, as well as photographs and Super 8 home video footage he shot while on location. For fans of this adolescent obscurity, such a bounty of footage is more than ever could have been expected. There’s even a "Where are they now?" feature to see where your favorite campers are today - and how much they ended up weighing.