Ah, so this should make for an interesting three-headed experiment. Here we have three amiably goofy slob comedies from Fox, all of which I first saw (and enjoyed) several years ago. And now through the magic of fancy marketing, Porky's (1982), Bachelor Party (1984), and PCU (1994) can be yours as part of the Frat Boy Collection! Let's see how these flicks hold up...
Porky's is not so much a movie as it is a string of Catskill-style sex jokes that have been string together by only the thinnest of threads. The "main plot" of the flick (that a group of fun-loving young teenagers have a score to settle with a nasty bar owner) gets maybe 20% of the screen-time, and the rest of the movie is dedicated to really old jokes about wangs, boobs, rubbers, orgasms, and virginity. That's not to say that none of it's funny, but we can probably all agree that a few funny gags does not a brilliant comedy make.
Clearly shooting for the "nostalgia vibe" that helped make American Graffiti and Animal House so successful, writer/director Bob Clark sets his grungy little rauncher in mid-'50s Florida, where on one side of the tracks is the white-bread burg of Angel Falls -- and on the other is the seedy backwater run by a porcine bar owner and his stupid sheriff brother. But when a handful of horny and perpetually sniggering Angel Falls teenagers have a nasty run-in with "Porky," they (slowly) begin to orchestrate a revenge plot ... but not before lengthy and isolated set-pieces involving machete-wielding psychos, howling young gym teachers, and stray penises in the girls' shower.
Toss in a few after-school-style subplots about how racism is bad and so are drunken convicts who drive motorcycles, and you've got Porky's: the Canadian sensation that spawned two worthless sequels and helped to kick-start one of the most obnoxious sub-genres ever created: The teen sex flick.
So while it's true that Clark wrings a few hearty chuckles from this half-baked stew, it's also true that Porky's looks and sounds more like a B+ student flick than a big-screen studio release. That alone wouldn't be enough to sink it (Kevin Smith's Clerks looks and sounds like a B+ student flick, and that movie gets funnier every time I see it), but Porky's moves at a snail's pace in between the funnier set-pieces, plus Mr. Clark has this annoying little habit of allowing his actors to chuckle hysterically at every opportunity ... as if the audience can't be trusted to know when to laugh. Plus the guy lets his skits run on way too long, which means that a potentially juicy joke peters out long after the punch-line's been delivered. Cast-wise, the players are generic and practically interchangeable. The few standouts include Boyd Gaines as a horny coach, Tony Ganios as "Meat," and Kim Cattrall as ... another horny coach.
Still, the shower scene is pretty damn funny.
Bachelor Party: I remember it like it was yesterday: The year was 1984 and (somehow) my mom had scored a pair of "radio station passes" for a flick called Bachelor Party. And since each pass was good for two people, my dad and sister got to tag along. I'd been a huge fan of Bosom Buddies and Splash, thanks mainly to the hilarious talents of Mr. Tom Hanks. I was psyched, I was pumped, I was 13 years old and going to see Bachelor Party with my parents.
I can't remember at exactly which point my mom told my sister and I to "move a few rows up," but I'm guessing it was during the hot dog scene. You don't know embarrassment until you've seen an R-rated dick-joke fest while sitting next to your mom (who is laughing, but uncomfortably) and your dad (who is glowering and NOT amused), but I do remember walking out of that theater with a new favorite comedy tucked under my belt.
I simply LOVED Bachelor Party, and (a few weeks later) so did all my friends. We quoted the stupid lines at each other and bought the soundtrack cassette. We thought it was a comedy on par with Animal House, Blazing Saddles, and Student Bodies. (Hey, we were 13!) And then we moved on to other movies and Bachelor Party was kind of forgotten about.
Aside from a few clips on cable here and there, I'd no further contact with the flick before last night. And while I can certainly see why a 13-year-old movie geek would be enraptured by the flick's good-natured smuttiness and chaotic behavior, the truth has finally caught up with me: Bachelor Party is kind of a mess. But a smutty, good-natured, and chaotic mess that still manages to deliver the yuks, despite a myriad of clearly-evident missteps.
The plot couldn't be simpler: Will the sweet-guy slacker avoid temptation on his final night of single-hood, or will he use his bachelor party as one last chance to get sweatily naked with a bunch of hookers? His pals say go for the gusto; his lovely fiancee says keep it in your pants. Surely this is enough of a plot to fill an entire movie.
Well, no, it isn't really. But to the flick's credit, Bachelor Party does feature the very young and very funny Tom Hanks, and rarely have you seen the guy mired in such family-unfriendly behavior. Frankly it's quite fun to see Hanks roaming through a happily vulgar R-rated comedy; if only Bachelor Party had had higher aspirations than just silly smut and bare boobies.
It's a scattershot affair, to be sure, and half the jokes simply don't fly, but Bachelor Party has energy to spare, plus there are some really funny supporting performances hidden within, should you care enough to dig that deeply. As the requisite jerkbags, both Robert Prescott and George Grizzard deliver some fine upper-crust bluster; Hanks' party buddies include Michael Dudikoff, Adrian Zmed, William Tepper, and Barry Diamond, each of whom get a few giggles of their own. (One of the guys is mired in a subplot involving suicide that's deadly dumb and almost painfully unfunny.) As Hanks' bride-to-be, Tawny Kitaen might not be a great actress (or a great comedienne), but she's button-cute, and for a role like this, that seems to be enough.
Plus, if you look at Bachelor Party in relation to director Neal Israel's body of work (which includes stuff like Americathon, Moving Violations, Surf Ninjas, and National Lampoon's Thanksgiving Family Reunion), the thing looks like a screwball comedy on par with the old-school classics.
And I still have the soundtrack cassette; it's got some great tunes on it.
PCU so desperately wants to be the next Animal House that you can practically smell the flick trying to be cult-loved. And while the movie certainly has gone on to enjoy a healthy video-store afterlife (after dying at the multiplexes), there's barely enough movie there to be loved.
It's a generally plotless but affable movie about one crazy weekend at Port Chester University, a campus that's been inundated with the "PC mentality." Picketers rule the campus; vegetarians won't let anyone eat; and the snooty chick in charge of the school is more interested in recycled paper than she is in molding young minds.
Welcome to college, circa 1994. Despite its quick pacing and numerous funny performances, PCU represents a real missed opportunity to me: If the flick had just a little more "bite," it could have been a darkly satirical skewering of the PC mindset. Instead, the screenwriters take a few stray swipes at vegans and "womyn" and the like, but then do absolutely nothing with the issues. Plus, by focusing so heavily (yet benignly) on the mid-'90s PC buzzwords, PCU skirts dangerously close to becoming an outdated relic in its own right. The members of the "Animal House" fought the exact same stuff, only the labels didn't exist back then. And that's what makes Animal House timeless and PCU little more than an amusing curiosity.
But make no mistake: There's laughs to be found here, thanks almost exclusively to a young a mega-motor-mouthed Jeremy Piven as PCU's resident King Slacker. Piven rants, raves, sidles and struts his way through the whole of PCU, and if you've found yourself enjoying the guy's work in Entourage (or his numerous movie gigs), then odds are you'll find a lot to like here. The background cast consists mainly of likeably goofy yet instantly forgettable faces. A young (and much chunkier) Jon Favreau pops up as a doofus with a weed problem, but the actor's not given a whole lot to work with. Chris Young is fitfully amusing as a vanilla "pre-frosh" who gets caught up in the campus chaos; the normally acidic Jessica Walters is stuck playing a lamely-written villainess; David Spade does his patented "smarmy republican jerkface" character, which is always good for a few mild chuckles.
PCU earns points for even bothering to tackle the "politically correct" headaches, but doesn't go nearly far enough with the satire. It's like the movie wants to be National Lampoon and Mad Magazine at the same time, but has no good idea how to accomplish the feat. For straight-on campus comedy, the flick gets a B-minus. As social commentary, a D-plus. Take Piven out of the equation and it'd be a whole lot uglier.
Video: All three films come with anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1) transfers. (PCU offers a full-frame option for the sitcom fans.) Picture quality is as you'd expect for a bunch of comedy catalog titles: Porky's looks a little soft, Bachelor Party a little better, and PCU pretty solid. (The "Frat Boy Collection" is nothing more than three old Fox releases wedged into one box. No remasters or anything.)
Porky's -- English, French, or Spanish mono, with optional English subtitles.
Bachelor Party -- Dolby Digital 4.0 Surround, English or French mono, with optional subtitles in English and Spanish.
PCU -- 2.0 Surround in English or Spanish. Optional subtitles come in the same languages.
None of the platters deliver what you'd call reference quality audio, delivering the yuks in standard television fashion. Good enough to enjoy the flicks though.
Porky's -- Just the original trailer.
Bachelor Party comes with three skimpy old promo featurettes: Behind the Scenes (3:08), An American Tradition (2:49), and While the Men Play (1:41). There's also some Tom Hanks Interviews entitled From Television to Movies (1:34), Tom Hanks Goes to a Bachelor Party (0:19), and Hanks on Television (0:48), but they're pretty darn redundant. The featurettes are comprised of movie clips, nasal narration, and interview segments with Tom Hanks, Adrien Zmed, Tawny Kitaen, director Neal Israel, and producers Bob Israel & Ron Moler. Also included is the original theatrical trailer.
PCU -- Two audio commentaries are included: one with director Hart Bochner and the other with actor Jeremy Piven. (Why these two tracks weren't jammed into one is anybody's guess, although it might be because Piven semi-trashes Bochner for not allowing any improv on the set.) Also included is a behind-the-scenes featurette, a music video for Mudhoney's rendition of "Pump It Up," and the original PCU trailer.
My thoughts aside, there's no denying that Porky's, Bachelor Party, and PCU are three fan-favorite catalog comedies that lots of people still enjoy. (OK, moreso "guys" than "people.") If you're a fan of these titles and they're not already in you collection the Fratbox is Recommended. If you own 'em already, then there's nothing to see here. Aside from the big slipcase, that is.