I love the movie Heavyweights. It’s the perfect camp movie. It has everything: blobs, Apache Relays, awkward dances, sports and eating montages, a brilliantly un-Disney script penned by Judd Apatow, and of course the hilariously quotable villain Tony Perkis played by Ben Stiller. It’s a 90’s classic. The most memorable thing about the film is the character of Tony Perkis. We learn little bits of information about Tony throughout the film, such as his early life as a portly adolescent who at age 12 weighed 319 pounds with bad skin, low self esteem and no self-respect; how he was educated entirely by private tutors his whole life and never interacted with children; how his father is a wealthy self-made “lighting fixture king” from eastern Pennsylvania; and how he was a straggler who was left to fend for himself at some point in his life. All of these clues and his behavior paint the picture of a man who is incredibly driven, but yet incredibly misguided and unaware of how his actions relate to other people. This is evident in his treatment of the campers, the previous staff, his insane attempts to get them to lose weight by taking them on 20 mile hikes and almost making them climb a 1000 foot rock face with their bare hands and feet, or even his sadistic and morale-breaking strategy of intercepting all of the campers letters before they can reach home. This is obviously a man with some deep seeded issues, not only towards children, but toward fat people, and inherently, himself.
|Tony believes in YOU.|
But in the end, the campers get the best of him. They take over the camp, imprison him, and eventually he has a psychological breakdown and disappears in shame and defeat, ultimately losing to the very fat children that he so vehemently hates. Now, obviously, I didn’t think this deeply on the character of Tony Perkis when I first saw the film, but in more recent viewings of it I have looked between the lines and seen a very conflicted character. And then I saw a movie that totally shifted my viewpoint and blew my brain matter all over the walls, and that movie was…
Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story
In Dodgeball, Average Joe’s gym is in danger of being bought out by rival Globo Gym, owned by the egotistic White Goodman. We learn in the film that White Goodman was a fat monstrosity of a man but lost the weight, put on the muscles, and founded Globo Gym with a large inheritance from his father Earl Goodman. His contempt for people that fall short of his chiseled worldview of muscles and superhuman bodies is so strong that his company motto is “At Globo Gym we’re better than you! And we know it!”. White is also uneducated on social norms and what could be considered socially acceptable, as this is evidenced in his lying about his cute accountant doing drugs and drinking on the job so she would be fired in the hopes that he would date her, his ignorance of world cultures when he states “In some cultures they only eat vomit”, and in his attempts to bribe Peter (the owner of Average Joes) out of competing against him in the dodgeball tournament.
|White Goodman used to believe in YOU.|
But in the end, his bribe backfires, he loses the dodgeball tournament, his company, and we later see him sitting in a crappy house stuffing himself to a ghastly weight and stewing in his bitterness and cynicism.
After seeing these two films, I came to a startling revelation:
Tony Perkis IS White Goodman
After his shaming defeat at Camp Hope, Tony Perkis fell into obscurity, first trying to sell healing crystals door to door, but eventually succumbing to his depression and falling back into destructive eating cycles and bitterness towards those who destroyed him: the “losers”, the fat people, the unattractive, which is exactly what he had become. So he rebuilt himself, losing all that weight, taking on a new name (White Goodman) and using his inheritance from his father Tony Perkis Sr (Whom he renamed Earl Goodman to avoid questions) to build Globo Gym to further his quest of ridding the world of the people that he so deeply hated: normal people. If you look around Globo Gym in the film, it looks like a Aryan Superman health club. Everyone is perfect, and those who arent are quickly told to change or leave, as evidenced in their commercials (“Here at Globo Gym, we understand that “Ugliness” and “Fatness” are genetic disorders, much like baldness or necrophilia, and it’s only your fault if you don’t hate yourself enough to do something about it.”). This makes Dodgeball a quasi-sequel to Heavyweights and a continuation of Tony Perkis’ story and his eventual downfall because of his own ego and shortsighted prejudices.
Ben Stiller deserves an Oscar.