|UK Release Date||1982|
|Reviewed||6th July 2014|
During the home video revolution in the 1980s many films achieved a kind of quasi-mythical status. These movies had to be watched and watched again, underage fingers glued to a thousand rewind buttons before trying to strike it lucky on an exploding head with a shaky pause. Mad Max, Friday the 13th, The Blues Brothers, The Bronx Warriors, Scanners, The Wanderers, the list was endless, must see films that were a rite of passage. Some were good, many were bad but you had to see them all to hold your own in the playground on a Monday morning.
Bob Clark’s Porky’s was another essential title, the natural successor to American Graffiti and National Lampoon’s Animal House; Clark’s film was the dawn of the teen sex comedy that would eventually mutate into the gross-out gloss of the American Pie franchise and the Frat Pack movies of Stiller, Apatow and company. Most boys of a certain age had only ever got to first base with Porky’s, namely the suggestive cover artwork and some highly embellished stories of sex scenes never seen and far more scandalous than the movie ever was.
Looking back at Porky’s after the hype and hysteria has long died down is like bumping into your first crush again, exciting, fun and a great trip down memory lane, but now you can finally put their memory to bed. Roger Ebert’s review finished with the lines, “I see that I have neglected to summarize the plot of Porky’s. And I don't think I will. I don't feel like writing one more sentence (which is, to be sure, all it would take).” What Ebert couldn’t be bothered to explain is that Clark assembled his plot from escapades and stories collected from his time as a student in Florida and they are often very funny.
Set in the 1950s, Porky’s follows the hapless Pee Wee and his band of high school pals from Angel Beach as they try to lose their virginity. Pee Wee is like a frisky Richie Cunningham living in the shadow of his more accomplished friends, he’s the butt of their jokes and the cause of their frequent embarrassment. His rampant sexual urges lead his merry gang to frequent Porky’s nightclub, a redneck house of ill repute surrounded by a swamp and inhabited by those sweaty, unsavory types so popular in early 80s American films. Fleeced of their dollars and humiliated Pee Wee’s crew limp back to Angel Beach with their tails firmly between their legs and little else.
Clark’s plot line serves as a guide rope for his comedy set pieces to cling to. The cabin in the woods set up, the peephole and the Mike Hunt gag still hold their own in the comic stakes. A young Kim Cattrall cause a stir with her unforgettable turn as Miss Lynn ‘’Lassie” Honeywell but the real belly laughs come in a brilliant four minute take when the Coaches discuss with Angel Beach’s harridan in residence, Miss Balbricker her plan for identifying the peephole culprit in a police line up. What ensues is the greatest example of infectious corpsing since Peter Cook and Dudley Moore.
Porky’s has often been cited as being misogynistic but Clark argues that his female characters are firmly in control and Pee Wee and his pals are the ones who are humiliated time and time again. Furthermore Clark also tackles the racial divide in Florida, notably through his Jewish character Brian played by Scott Colomby who has an uncanny resemblance to a young Roy Scheider. Slim social conscience aside and despite the A-Team finale, Porky’s remains a great comedy and a fascinating insight into the changing film landscape of the 1980s and the sequel culture that followed the auteur driven American cinema of the 1970s.
Check out the trailer here.