Principal Cast : Dan Monahan, Mark Herrier, Wyatt Knight, Roger Wilson, Cyril O’Reilly, Tony Ganios, Kaki Hunter, Kim Catrall, Nancy Parsons, Scott Colomby, Boyd Gains, Doug McGrath, Susan Clark, Art Hindle, Wayne Maunder, Alex Karras, Chuck Mitchell, Eric Christmas, Bill Hindman.
Synopsis: In 1954, a group of Florida high-school guys try to help their buddy lose his virginity, which leads them to seek revenge on a sleazy nightclub owner and his redneck sheriff brother for harassing them.
Mismatched tones and a lack of, well, sex in this legendary 80’s teen comedy don’t really make for a blast of nostalgic waxing lyrical about furtive childhood video store creeping trying to work out just how raunchy this salacious film really was. With a cover and premise that promised much, I had often figured that the legendary Porky’s – famous for its legendary peepshow shower sequence – was a hitherto untold garden of seduction and liaisons, although in reality that fantasy was far from the truth. Although a popular precursor to other tits-and-ass romps of the 80’s, and an obvious forerunner to the American Pie franchise, Porky’s, thank largely to its situational comedy writing and a surprising amount of male nudity, does lean away from comedy more than most films I think, with undertones of domestic violence, anti-semitism, racism and misogyny rampant throughout its barebones screenplay and Grease-style production design.
Set in Florida in the mid 1950’s, a group of high school boys are looking to lose their virginity; they draw their cash together and head across state lines to “Porky’s”, a disreputable swamp-based bar and whorehouse, where they plan to each become men. However, the owner dupes them, kicking them out for being underage, and savagely beating one of them. While they plot a juvenile revenge, they spend time spying on their naked classmates in the girls shower room, teasing and pranking each other in a variety of demeaning ways, and of course talking about sex a lot. Like, a lot, lot.
Porky’s is your prototypical horny boy movie. There’s some nice moments of glorious female nudity, more than enough male nudity to last me a lifetime, and a distinct whiff of late-70’s, early 80’s political incorrectness that, by todays standards, is pretty rank. In Porky’s, women are treated like pieces of meat, both physically and emotionally, and the film glorifies the predation of the boys (who, it must be said, look like they’re all in their mid-twenties, which is even creepier) with a gleeful male-gaze aesthetic that is remarkably uncomfortable. I know, back in the day I would have eaten this up as a salacious, raucous comedic classic, but by todays standards the film is both poorly written and terribly outdated. The whole shower peepshow sequence, in which we’re meant to be watching a bunch of underage boys getting their jollies seeing a bunch of underage girls showering, would never be made today – if they’re watching schoolgirls shower, then so are we, and how does that work even as a comedy bit? Watching Kim Catrall try and salvage anything from her character howling like a dog whilst copulating is cringeworthy, and the moment an old fat biddy grabs hold of a boys penis and almost rips it off isn’t as funny as you think it is.
Cheeky? Sure, at times Porky’s is glib with its discussions of sex: penis size, body count, experience, condoms, prostitution and lust are all handled with the grace of a hugely mediocre writer, but (and here’s what surprised me) the film mixes up some darker aspects that challenged the film’s status a a comedy. One kid is being routinely beaten by his jailbird father, another has his older brother being the chief of police in town, and another is so insecure about his dick he’s taking to measure it each morning before going to school. Had the film either cast aside these heavier moments that feel like they belong in a different movie, or done away with the comedy entirely, Porky’s might have been a halfway decent film. As it stands, as sex comedies go, there’s far too little actual sex, not nearly enough nudity (although full frontal male and female nudity like this in films seems to have become a thing of the past) and far too much pranking, tricking and heavy-handed dramatic beats to keep Porky’s as the classic comedic sexpo I had always imagined it to be.