Thursday, June 26, 2008

80's Trash of the Week: Porky's

Bob Clark has had an interesting career. He's the director behind several popular classics, the most famous being A Christmas Story. He began as a slasher film director, and directed one of the early classics of the genre, Black Christmas. It was recently remade, but there's no reason to see it over the 1974 original, where Margot Kidder is terrorized by an unknown killer. The ending is still one of the best to any slasher film I've ever seen. It's not my favorite genre, but it's was a very good movie.
Porky's: the epitome of the 80's teen sex romp.

Clark set the bar high for raunchy teen sex romps in 1982 with Porky's, a collection of high school stories he wrote and gathered, cobbling them into one fantastic tale about kids in Florida and their fascination with an infamous nearby strip club run by a legendary good ol' boy named Porky Wallace. The movie's success made it the highest grossing movie in its home country of Canada for over 20 years, (meaning it grossed nearly a million dollars). It spawned an inferior but watchable sequel that went after sleazy politicians, hypocritical evangelical preachers and the Klan, picking 3 easy targets and spreading itself too thin. The original is unforgettable to any male who saw it, and I wanted to see if my memory was colored by nostalgia. I'm happy to say that the movie is just as funny now as it was when I sneaked in to the Franklin theater to see it in 1982.
Chili with extra Meat

The movie centers on a group of teenagers in high school; we first meet Pee Wee (Dan Monahan), a short red-headed guy on a quest to lose his virginity. He blew chance with the school slut, Wendy; despite being a little snagglepussed, she is played endearingly by Kaki Hunter. Sure, the guys poke fun at how many guys have taken a poke at her, but it's not cruel humor. In fact, the whole film is infused with this sort of chum-like ribbing. Even a racist asshole is given a backstory and a chance at redemption. We might remember the shower scenes and other juvenile humor best, but as in A Christmas Story, Clark gives the movie a welcoming mood, like we're all sitting around a campfire drinking beers and telling stories.
Let's hope she spent her salary on dental work.

The rest of the crew are Billy and Tommy, the Heckle & Jeckle of the school; Mickey the redneck, "Meat" Tuperello, the huge jock with something huge in his jock, and Tim, who's got a greaser convict Dad and a big chip on his shoulder. The movie doesn't burden us with much drama, but Tim's conflict with his Dad, and how he takes it out on Brian, the only Jewish kid in school, is handled well without being shoehorned in.
Before Sex in the City, there was Sex in the Gym Closet

The film's other subplot involves the coaches and Phys-Ed teachers. Kim Catrall plays Ms. Honeywell in an early role; she's a hottie that newer Coach Brakett wants to knock tennis shoes with. He gets warned by an elder coach, and the payoff is one of the best laughs in the movie. The only thankless role in the movie is played with aplomb by Nancy Parsons (Steel Magnolias, Sudden Impact); Coach Balbricker. As you can tell from her rather puerile name, she's the school ballbreaker; every one's got one. Severe and prudish, she'd be more at home as Mother Superior in a cruel convent. She ends up in most of the best gags, such as the famous peephole scene in the girl's shower room. When one of the boys tries to take a peep with his one-eyed trouser snake, she engages him in a painful and hilarious tug of war.
Balbricker ain't pulling your leg.

So much goes on outside of Porky's legendary club that it's surprising that it got the title. The boys end up there after a prank with a prostitute named Cherry Forever robs Pee Wee and pals of a chance at getting some poontang. Mickey being King Redneck, wants to head to a redneck joint where he heard you can have some private time with the girls. The underage boys drive to the next county, into "Wallacetown," one of those backwoods burgs run by a local rich guy and his brother the Sheriff. Porky's club has just the right amount of sleaze and drunken violence to inhabit teenage legend; the boys get in with their fake IDs, buy overpriced beer, and get cockteased for their dollars, suffering all the self-imposed indignities men endure for a peek at some snatch.

Porky's Pussy Parade

The trouble starts when Mickey gets pushy, and wants to pay $100 for him and his boys to get some time with the ladies. They're underage and pushing their luck; Porky plays a nasty prank on them and scams them out of their money. Mickey can't handle it, and gets further extorted by Porky's brother the Sheriff (a doughy yet menacing Alex Karras, aka "Mongo" from Blazing Saddles). The boys drive home and take it as a lesson learned, all except for Mickey, who can't handle Porky getting one over on him. He keeps heading back to get his money back, and beaten up for his trouble.
Pee Wee, Mickey and Porky

Chuck Mitchell played Porky in all 3 movies; he was perfectly cast, as the grizzled tubby club owner with the deep voice, piggy face and sinister sneer. Much of the cast are unknowns, and this helps us feel like they were real kids. Even Kim Catrall is unrecognizable as cocktease with a locker room fetish. About the only person you'd recognize is Karras, and his small part as the bad sheriff is more like a cameo.
I'm sure Kim Catrall looks back fondly upon this dignified moment

The famous revenge on Porky is the dream of every kid wronged by powerful adult forces. Porky's comeuppance and humiliation are fitting and complete. I never saw the third movie, Porky's Revenge, and it wasn't written or directed by Clark, so I have no desire to. Porky's II: The Next Day wasn't bad; it's impossible to make a movie 2 years later that lives up to one that was 15 years in the making. It's typical 80's fare, and watchable. I remember being amazed when sneaking in to see Porky's that there were more gags over the credits! This was a first for me. it wasn't even bloopers, like the brilliant credits of one of my favorite movies of all time, Being There. Stick around and you'll get to see Pee Wee's final attempt at losing his cherry.
Bush was more than Vice President in the 80's.

The movie delivers on all counts; it doesn't try to inject too much drama into what never rises above a chummy teen sex romp based on tall tales from teenage-hood. Bob Clark has made some beloved classics, which may forgive him for Baby Geniuses and The Karate Dog. I watched this because Howard Stern has been trying to remake it for years. Hopefully he'll go bankrupt trying.

Beers Required to Enjoy: None, would a six-pack wouldn't hurt!
Could it be remade today? Let's hope not
Quotability Rating: Medium
Cheese Factor: Low
High Points: Tug of war, Lassie, Kim Catrall's ass
Low Point: Scientifically proven to contain none
Gratuitous Boobies: Here there and everywhere!


sirj scaryfilm reviewer said...

I can't believe they showed bush in this one. Better yet, I can't believe this spawned so many sequels.

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