Tuesday 9 February 2021

Movie Review: Porky's (1981)

A high school sex comedy, Porky's is rude, crude, essentially plotless, and hilarious.

The setting is Florida in Eisenhower's 1950s. A group of friends navigate South Beach High School, and they only have sexual high jinx in mind. Pee Wee (Dan Monahan) is desperate to lose his virginity, and his friends including Tommy (Wyatt Knight), Billy (Mark Herrier), Mickey (Roger Wilson), and Meat (Tony Ganios) are eager to help him. Looking for a good time, they head out across the county line to the rough and tumble Porky's redneck club, but only find trouble and humiliation at the hands of Porky (Chuck Mitchell) himself. Back at the school, the boys have to be satisfied spying into the girls' shower room.

Meanwhile Tim (Cyril O'Reilly) comes from a rough household and is being abused by his no-good father (Wayne Maunder). He releases his frustration on Brian (Scott Colomby), the Jewish kid in school, and the outcome is unexpected. Elsewhere, basketball coach Brackett (Boyd Gaines) is eager to seduce cheerleader coach Honeywell (Kim Cattrall), and wonders why she is nicknamed Lassie. The dour Coach Balbricker (Nancy Parsons) stands in their way.

With Mickey earning himself several more beatings at Porky's, the friends decide they have had enough and plot a revenge.

Episodic, choppy, featuring a cast of unknowns and almost no redeeming features, Porky's has all the makings of a crass low-budget disaster. It is crass and low-budget, but it clicks into a classic. A Canadian production from American writer, co-producer and director Bob Clark, Porky's expels Animal House from college back to high school and creates a new sub-genre concerned only with horny young men and their pursuit of women, often ending in disaster.

Clark demonstrates a talent for stretching every joke well past what appears to be funny, only to blow the lid off and find more laughs. The lowlights are the highlights, and they are many. The peephole scene has several sub-episodes just within the shower room, then Clark relocates it to the principal's office for a coup de gras featuring rib-cracking humour, the actors straining to keep a straight face. Brackett discovering exactly why Honeywell earned the nickname Lassie is another entry into the comedy Hall of Fame. And in a prank involving Cherry Forever (Susan Clark) teasing her services, Porky's extends bad taste to offer equal opportunity male and female nudity. 

The search for any underlying warm and fuzzy themes uncovers only the flimsiest of material. Standing up to abuse, overcoming ethnic prejudice, friends looking out for each other and finding non-violent (albeit destructive) solutions are some of the extenuating concepts barely crawling out of the mayhem.

Otherwise the language is coarse and insensitive, the humour is almost always at the expense of someone's physical or emotional pain, and all the women are entirely defined as objects of lust or revulsion. In setting a new standard for low brow humour, Porky's is ridiculously successful.

All Ace Black Movie Blog reviews are here.

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