Following the success of the 1979’s summer camp hit, Meatballs, American International Pictures came out with a more R-rated knockoff called Gorp. And they sure rushed this production together fast because film was released just over a year later. Can’t let that summer camp movie hype slip away!
Meatballs and Gorp are similar in many ways, notably in how they’re focused on the counselors rather than the campers, and how they both feature a lot of yelling. But the biggest thing missing in Gorp? Bill Murray. Though Meatballs has some talent behind it, Murray drives the entire show. Both films are fairly plotless, but Murray does so well with the material that we’re not reminded too much of that reality. Gorp doesn’t have that luxury.
The movie is set at a Jewish summer camp in the Catskills, surrounding a group of college-aged male waiters who take the job merely to make money and flirt with cute female counselors. Random hijinks ensue, which this entire film consists of exclusively. Gorp is essentially a series of pranks and antics that take place throughout the summer.
Certain bits are actually entertaining, but we’re rushed through a lot of genuinely clever jokes to be able to really appreciate them. This is just a microcosm of how little Gorp values setups and payoffs. We never seen any resolutions. I don’t blame director Joseph Ruben. This is simply the result of a rushed production. I can’t tell you how many times in this movie the actors break character.
The male counselors are led by Kavell (Michael Lembeck) and Bergman (Philip Casnoff), who are the bane in camp director Walrus Wallman’s (David Huddleston) existence. They’re joined by a young Dennis Quaid and Fran Drescher. Walrus is constantly shouting monetary fines at the guys for various infractions. He wishes he could get rid of Kavell and Bergman, but only threatens to dispose of them. We’re supposed to be rooting for the guys, yet there’s no justification for doing so. Nor is there any real reason why we shouldn’t be rooting for Walrus instead. There’s nothing invested for us in either direction.
If we’re unsure of the plot in Gorp, then we’re unsure of the climax we’re building to. Fittingly, we get a silly and undeserved finale filled with more yelling and firm proof that this movie isn’t completely off the rails because there were no rails to begin with.