Judge Brett Cullum rights Bob Clark's tragic dismissal by film critics in his review of the Citizen Kane of teen sex comedies.
[in a high-pitched falsetto voice]
Porky's the Ultimate Collection gathers together the unholy teen sex trilogy of Porky's, Porky's II: The Next Day, and Porky's Revenge. All of these movies have been released to DVD before, and this set merely gathers together existing editions of each title in one convenient cardboard slip case for the collector who may be missing them (Porky's Revenge has always been harder to find, and deservedly so). The real reason to own it is for completion, since truly Porky's the original is the best of the bunch and will be the one to go down in cinematic history. It probably deserves Criterion treatment some day. The other two sequels merely go through the motions of the template established by the superior 1982 release. Yet if you're a fan of the gang from Angel Beach High School, here's all of their misadventures in one package. These are the films that inspired American Pie and countless imitators who tried to capture that special time when innocence collides with raunch and puberty insures that everything has to do with sex. It's the '50s seen through the eyes of the '80s, and the films remain strangely sweet even if they are completely over-sexed.
In all three movies we have a core group of characters, mainly comprised of members of the varsity basketball team of Angel Beach High in Florida of the '50s. Among the ranks of the kids are: Pee Wee (Dan Monahan, The Night Flier), Billy (Mark Herrier,Tank), Tommy (Wyatt Knight, Stages), Mickey (Roger Wilson, My Sexiest Year), Tim (Cyril O'Riley, Carnosaur 3: Primal Species), Meat (Tony Ganois,Die Hard 2), Wendy (Kaki Hunter, Roadie), and Brian (Scott Colomby,Timemaster). Notable adults include Coach Bula Ballbricker (Nancy Parsons,Ladybugs), proprietor Porky (Chuck Mitchell, Don't Answer the Phone!), Coach Honeywell (Kim Cattrall, Sex and the City), and Principal Carter (Eric Christmas, Air Bud). Most of the cast stuck with the series for all three films, but you'll see less and less of the regulars as the trilogy moves on.
Porky's only has the loosest of plots. Much like Animal House, the movie simply drifts from one skit or situation to the next without much to offer other than placing the characters in sexy, silly situations. The one unifying progressive piece of narrative centers around a strip club the boys get thrown out of and swear revenge on. It's of course called Porky's, and the owner is a huge, piggish man the joint is named for. We mainly get to see practical jokes the boys play on each other, and moments where they talk about getting laid. The movie is a farce where the characters move quickly in and out of situations obsessed with only one carnal aspect of life. It hearkens back to the British sex comedies of old with American teens being the focus instead of haughty Brits in nighties. It's more classical and structured than anyone gives it credit for when you look at it academically; however, the film is really only meant to be a good time. People remember the classic comedy bits such as when the boys go to see an exotic dancer named Cherry Forever, the infamous peephole shower sequence in the girls locker room, and Kim Cattrall's orgasm which earns her the nickname Lassie. Everything is funny, quick, and totally raunchy in a "Oh no! They didn't go there!" way.
Porky's is a gutter classic of cinema that still works today as well as it did almost three decades ago. Director and writer Bob Clark (Black Christmas, A Christmas Story) collected stories for over fifteen years from friends about the stunts they pulled in high school, and he fashioned these into a production that strived to show teenagers as they really are—completely obsessed with sex. By setting the events in the '50s, Porky's remains timeless and a shocking look at a decade that has often been "Leave it to Beaver"-ized by pop culture. When the film was released critics savaged it as being pointless, raunchy, and not particularly well made. But critics be damned, the film went on to become the highest grossing Canadian film ever made until 2006 (trumped by Bon Cop, Bad Cop). Porky's shattered box office records, and proved everyone was obsessed with racy material enough to make the teen sex comedy a hot genre. The nudity occurs for both sexes, and everyone looks surprisingly natural and comfortable. One of the commentators on the movie mentions how there are no silicon implants, and full frontal shots are decidedly untrimmed (the term "furkini" gets used in describing it).
Even though Clark's only mission was to be as vulgar and sex-obsessed as he recalls teenagers being, Porky's does have some other things to chew on. Surprisingly there is a whole lot of racism issues to deal with including attitudes towards Jews, African Americans, and to a very small degree gays. The Jewish character, Brian Schwartz (Scott Colomby, Caddyshack), suffers a lot of verbal and physical abuse from one of his teammates while the others simply accept it. There are no African American characters other than a guy they pay to scare the whole gang during a prank. The cast is so white washed it's painfully obvious their world is lacking any racial diversity. Very little mention is made of homosexuality, but when it does come up it is done in a derogatory way. Surprisingly the female characters are empowered enough to serve up as much as is dished out towards them, so Clark at least avoids misogyny.
After the huge success of Porky's, it was inevitable a sequel would be made. Porky's II: The Next Day sees the return of the cast as well as writer and director Bob Clark. They were rushed to make the project, and it shows in the final product which feels uninspired even if it does have a nice energy. It follows the gang as they produce an evening of Shakespeare at the high school, and find racist religious zealots in their way trying to close them down for being immoral. There's not even a glimpse of Porky or his club, and instead we get a televangelist type named Reverend Flavel (Bill Wiley, That Thing You Do!) and his followers called "the Flock" as antagonists. It's a cute idea to have religious types picketing the Angel Beach gang, and one that mirrored real life as the actors found themselves nearly blacklisted after appearing in the first movie. The film never gels as well as Porky's, and it's just nowhere near as funny. There are some sweet touches such as a budding romance between Pee Wee and Wendy, and how the boys take up for a Seminole named John Henry. Everybody seems glad to be back, but they don't have much to say or do. Probably the best sequence belongs to Wendy, who gets to take down a crooked politician at a very memorable dinner. Seems like Clark loses a bit of the sex obsession, and tries harder to hit the overly obvious "race card" even inserting the Klu Klux Klan to the mix. Clark makes a misstep by concentrating on the social commentary more than sex in this round. It doesn't work, but it's still entertaining enough to feel like a nice try at a sequel.
By the time we get to Porky's Revenge, nobody looks excited to be on the set. Bob Clark was not involved, and the movie suffers from being an imitator of his first installment. It is severely tired, and has a mess of a plot where Porky returns and tries to fix a high school national championship basketball game and force Meat to marry his homely daughter. Some of the original cast is missing, and the ones that are there sleepwalk through roles which they are now far too old to pull off. It lacks a sense of joy, and also ditches the Pee Wee and Wendy romance to insert a Swedish exchange student. Nothing in the film works as well as it did twice before, and there's not much reason to see it other than the graduation sequences which at least closes the entire story nicely. Porky's Revenge is the least entertaining of the three installments, though some champion it as more similar to the first than the second. It eliminates any social commentary, and goes for the sex comedy more often. In that regard it is more true to the source, but the sex comedy scenes are drawn out and nonsensical. There's a painfully long pool scene that offers no comedic payoff like the shower scene of the first movie. It just seems like an excuse to get everyone naked, and that pretty much describes the whole movie.
The DVDs in this collection are all editions that have been released before with the first one getting the best treatment. Porky's is the "One Size Fits All Edition" which presents the film in anamorphic widescreen with tons of extras. The best bits are a commentary from Bob Clark as well as a conversation with him on the "Through the Peephole" segment. There is also a featurette where two VH1 comedians talk about what they remember about the theatrical run of the film. It's pointless but cute enough for one viewing. There's a collection of trailers, and one really odd Porky's The Videogame presentation which shows a bit of the game designed for the Atari 2600 which was released at the same time as the first sequel. The two sequels simply get bare bones treatment with a trailer gallery. Transfers are all anamorphic widescreen with stereo tracks. All three are murky, and the soundtrack is a bit muffled on all of them. Progressively the transfers get worse as you go through the three films, but even Porky's looks its age. All the discs are packaged in slim line cases with a nice cardboard slip cover which features a neon looking leg recognizable as a representation of a prop that appeared in Clark's Christmas movie as well as Porky's II: The Next Day which were made simultaneously.
Bob Clark's Porky's invented the gold standard for teen sex comedies much as his earlier Black Christmas gave a template for the slasher film. The director almost single-handedly designed the '80s when you consider the influence of his two most well known films. Porky's The Ultimate Collection is a nice way to get all three titles featuring the Angel Beach gang in one slim package. Porky's has gotten over five releases in the past few years, and this is the one you'll want the most. Yet common sense says if you like the film you should own it already. None of these discs have anything new to offer, but this is the first time they all come together. Transfers remain a bit muddy, and there's no notable extras save for the commentary and interview on Porky's. The movies show the law of diminishing returns that Hollywood is so well known for: the first is nonstop hilarious, the second barely gets to the same level only occasionally, and the third seems bankrupt of new ideas and poorly imitates the first chapter. Admirably most of the cast stuck with the series through the whole arc, and then many decided to retire from screen acting and become insurance salesmen (the guy who played Meat) or rafting instructors (the gal who was Wendy) afterwards. Seems the movies had run their course, and the industry had little use for aging teen sex comedy stars. But Clark and his cast will always be known for Porky's, because it shocked the entire Hollywood system. They proved sex sells, and that you don't need much more than nudity and a good sense of humor to have a hit. Begrudgingly the critics will have to concede they made a classic film that still holds up today. It belongs in any well rounded DVD collection between Citizen Kane and Star Wars. It has no pretensions of being anything but a good time, and sometimes that's all you want or need.
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