Here it is, the mother of all T&A comedies. For the longest time the highest grossing Canadian film ever made, this Bob Clark opus takes a lot of the credit (or blame, in some people’s opinion) for the influx of comedies in the 80’s involving horny teenagers trying to get “laid”, plentiful naked girls, and fistfuls of raunchy humour. Porky’s was there first. However, what makes Clark’s film different is that he’s also managed to layer in a serious sub-plot about parental abuse and bigotry amongst all the enduring moments and general tomfoolery.
The setting is the 1950’s in Angel Beach, Florida and our opening scene lets us know what to expect as we meet Pee-Wee (Dan Monahan) and his morning erection. From there we’re introduced to the rest of the gang at the local high school who are seemingly on an endless quest to prank each other and have sex as much as possible. There’s the interchangeable Billy (Mark Herrier) and Tommy (Wyatt Knight), the jock “Meat” (Tony Ganios) whose moniker has to do with you-know-what, and the tomboy-ish Wendy (Kaki Hunter) who’s always up for poking fun at Pee-Wee.
Clark’s basic premise, apart from all the set pieces peppered throughout, is that the guys are determined to go across the state line to the infamous strip club of the title in order to pay for a little nookie and see naked girls. Of course, being a bit naïve and not well liked by the locals, they soon fall victim to Porky (Chuck Mitchell), his cohorts, and his sheriff brother (Alex Karras) who screw them over leading to a finale where our high schoolers extract revenge.
Leading up to said finale, there’s a whole bunch of memorable sequences. Things like a prank involving a hooker called “Cherry Forever”, the now famous scene where some of the guys play peeping tom in the girl’s shower (and the hilarious, shot-in-one-take, scene in the principal’s office afterwards), a young Kim Cattrall living up to the name “Lassie”, and more lowbrow chuckles. Clark also briefly touches on the abuse Jewish student Brian (Scott Colomby) is given by redneck Mickey (Roger Wilson) who’s been taught intolerance by his abusive father.
If you can say anything about Bob Clark, it’s that his career was certainly odd. He made the iconic, and trendsetting, 1974 slasher flick Black Christmas before moving onto the sex crazed fare that’s our topic here and helming the cult favourite holiday classic A Christmas Story as well as the reprehensible children’s flick Baby Geniuses. Not exactly the kind of director you’d be able to pigeonhole. I personally consider this to be his masterpiece, though the first two films I mention above also deserve all the praise they get. It’s too bad he was killed by a drunk driver in 2007 before getting the chance to try and make another timeless effort.
Given that the cast is mostly made up of unknowns, there’s a surprising amount of winning performances here. Monahan steals the show every single time he’s on screen as the always horny Pee-Wee and you end up rooting for him to lose his virginity. He’d play a similar character in other fare such as Up the Creek. Hunter also shows a lot of charisma as the one girl the guys seem to respect and she’d get a chance to steal the spotlight in the inevitable sequel (where she has a scene that’s tastelessly hilarious involving a sleazy politician). Cattrall makes an attractive gym teacher in one of her earlier roles and would go on to much fame in HBO’s “Sex and the City”. Former footballer Karras would co-star in treacly sitcom “Webster” and that’s familiar Canadian actor Art Hindle as one of the town’s deputies.
Let’s get this straight: Porky’s is not fine art. There’s no way you could possibly mistake this for an Academy Award worthy film. And that’s perfectly okay. Writer-director Clark hits all the right notes here giving his intended audience exactly what they desire, but he’s also seen fit to wedge in enough likeable characters and nostalgia to set this above all the fodder that would follow in its wake. Sure, his follow-up might not be able to match this, but it does have its moments as well making it easy for me to recommend both this, and its sequel, for an evening of sex humour fuelled fun – they don’t make them quite like this anymore.
Followed by two sequels. (Chris Hartley, 5/28/12)
Directed By: Bob Clark.
Written By: Bob Clark.
Starring: Dan Monahan, Mark Herrier, Wyatt Knight, Roger Wilson.