Director : Bob Clark
Screenplay : Bob Clark
MPAA Rating : R
Year of Release : 1982
Stars : Dan Monahan (Pee Wee Morris), Mark Herrier (Billy), Wyatt Knight (Tommy Turner), Roger Wilson (Mickey Jarvis), Cyril O'Reilly (Tim Cavanaugh), Tony Ganios (Anthony "Meat" Tuperello), Kaki Hunter (Wendy Williams), Scott Colomby (Brian Schwartz), Kim Cattrall (Miss Honeywell), Nancy Parsons (Beulah Balbricker), Alex Karras (Sheriff Wallace), Chuck Mitchell (Porky Wallace)
Following a few years after the raucous National Lampoon's Animal House (1978), Bob Clark's low-budget hit Porky's was a trend-setting comedy that introduced new lows (or highs, depending on your point of view) in tasteless jokes and frank sexuality to the teen genre. A sort of uninhibited, free-for-all twist on George Lucas' sweetly nostalgic American Graffiti (1973), Porky's introduces a gang of teenage characters who are resolutely horny and unashamed to be so.
Yet, if the movie has a single theme, it is the frustration of those ardent sexual desires. Time and time again, the teen characters find themselves within moments of fulfilling their randiest dreams only to have something turn the tables and humiliate them. Thus, although the movie is told almost exclusively from the male point of view and has been accused of misogyny (especially by film critic Roger Ebert), it is largely about mocking teen male sexuality and its overenthusiastic clumsiness.
Set in Florida in 1954, the loose, episodic narrative focuses on a group of male friends who live in the quiet town of Angel Beach. The story takes place in a 1950s that never really existed--the cars are antique and the clothing styles are period accurate, but the attitudes and dialogue are straight out of the early 1980s (and what teens in the 1950s had access to four-foot-long novelty condoms?). The majority of the characters are quite interchangeable, although there are a few who stand out, most notably Pee Wee Morris (Dan Monahan), a scrawny redhead who has the twin curse of being the horniest and most frustrated character (owing to more than just his name). Pee Wee spends the entire movie in a state of near sexual explosion, which is compounded by the fact that he tends to be the butt of most of the jokes.
Practical jokes play a large role in Porky's, and they always come at the male characters' expense. One of the earliest scenes in the movie depicts them driving out into the country where they think they are going to lose their virginity to an “exotic dancer” named Cherry Forever (Susan Clark). The whole thing turns out to be a ruse designed by two of the boys, and it ends up with Pee Wee being picked up by the police as he runs naked down the highway.
A large part of the story revolves around Porky's, a legendary club/whorehouse out in the middle of the Florida everglades. It is located in a small county that appears to be run exclusively by Porky Wallace (Chuck Mitchell), the aptly named owner of the club, and his brother (Alex Karras), who is the local sheriff. Porky is an obscenely overweight redneck who delights in humiliating the teen boys. Thus, although he would seem to be their path to complete sexual liberation, he turns out to be one of the most repressive characters in the movie. It comes as little surprise, then, that it is he who becomes the object of revenge in the movie's protracted climax, which can be seen as the teen boys' ultimate retribution for all the sexual humiliation they endured for the previous 90 minutes.
Another memorably repressive character is Miss Ballbricker (Nancy Parsons), a large female coach who makes it her sneering duty to police all sexual activity at the high school. She is ludicrously inept and hilariously unaware of her own extremism. At one point, she becomes so obsessed with catching one of the teens who was engaging in sexual hijinks that she demands that the school principal allow her to inspect the boys' genitals because she thinks she can identify the offending organ. That this is one of the most obscene propositions in the movie never seems to occur to her.
One of the oddest things about Porky's is the way it weaves racial and ethnic themes and social-liberal messages about tolerance into a story that is otherwise preoccupied with nothing but sex. For instance, one of the male characters, Mickey (Roger Wilson), is a happily self-avowed redneck who is chastised by his more enlightened friends for using the derogatory term “nigger.” Furthermore, there is an extended subplot about the boys' desire to befriend a Jewish student named Brian Schwartz (Scott Colomby) who has recently moved to town, but are stymied by their friend Tim's (Cyril O'Reilly) rampant anti-Semitism. The movie ties this loose end up a little too neatly, with Tim rebelling against the father who instilled the racism in him. It is, in a sense, admirable that writer/director Bob Clark includes socially progressive messages, but one has to wonder how successful they are barricaded on either side by jokes about penis size.
|Porky's One Size Fits All Edition DVD|
|Porky's is available either separately (SRP: $19.98) or as part of the “Porky's: The Ultimate Collection” three-disc box set, which also includes Porky's II: The Next Day (1983) and Porky's Revenge (1985).|
|Distributor||20th Century Fox Home Entertainment|
|SRP||$29.98 (box set)|
|Release Date||May 22, 2007|
|VIDEO & AUDIO|
|This new “One Size Fits All Edition” of Porky's gives us a new anamorphic transfer in the film's original 1.85:1 theatrical aspect ratio that improves on both the previously available double-feature DVD and the original nonanamorphic transfer disc. Color and sharpness look particularly improved this time around, although some shots seem a little grainier as a result. There is also considerably less grain and dirt this time around. The Dolby 2.0 surround remix (recycled from the double-feature DVD) isn't particularly expansive, but that is due to the fact that little calls for much in the way of surround effects. Music on the soundtrack is opened up slightly in the surround mix, but not by much.|
|Since writer/director Bob Clark recently died in an unfortunate automobile accident (he and his son were killed on April 4, 2007, when a drunk driver swerved across the highway median into their lane), his screen-specific audio commentary and his appearance in the “Porky's Through the Peephole: Bob Clark Looks Back” retrospective featurette have a special poignancy. In both the commentary and the 15-minute featurette, Clark talks extensively about how most of the incidents in Porky's were based on either his own personal experiences or ones he had heard about. He emphasizes that he wanted to get at a certain level of truth regarding coming-of-age issues in Porky's, and even if the movie itself betrays some of that with its exaggeration, listening to his perspective should help even the most jaded critics to see a little bit deeper below the admittedly bawdy surface. The other featurette, “Porky's: A Comedy Classic,” runs 11 minutes and features interviews with two comedians who wax nostalgic about their experiences seeing the film as kids and make mostly unfunny jokes about it. Also included are the original theatrical trailers for all the Porky's films and one real socio-historical gem: a 1983 tie-in sales presentation for the (I kid you not) Porky's video game.|
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