Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (May 9, 2007)
Things I’ll never understand, part one: why my father owns a DVD copy of Porky’s. This is Mr. Classical Music, Mr. PBS, Mr. Dopey-Little-Art-Film - what in the world use would he have for a cheap piece of teen junk like Porky’s?
I refuse to broach the issue with him because I’m afraid the answer will relate to the movie’s famous shower scene. If there’s one thing I don’t want to hear, it’s my Dad telling me how naked, nubile young women turn him on. I mean, if that does work for him, more power to him; God knows it works for me! Nonetheless, that topic falls very low on the “wanna chat to Dad” list.
In any case, I can think of no reason other than puerile thrills for my Dad to own Porky’s on home video. Frankly, I can’t think of a reason other than solid full-frontal female nudity for anyone to possess Porky’s on home video; this is one lousy little movie.
Porky’s boasts a completely forgettable cast. I took the liberty of hopping over to the IMDB to see what fame and fortune this group had gone on to after Porky's. I mean, this movie had a large pool of characters from which to choose; some of them had to go on to be stars, right?
Let's look at some similar movies: Animal House, the fairly direct inspiration for Porky's, not only turned Belushi into a movie star, it also featured young actors like Kevin Bacon, Tom Hulce, and Karen Allen. Beetlejuice, as noted in another review of mine, included then-unknowns such as Geena Davis, Alec Baldwin, and Winona Ryder. Fast Times at Ridgemont High offered a veritable mother lode, as it featured Sean Penn, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Judge Reinhold, Phoebe Cates, Forest Whitaker, Nicolas Cage, and others who’ve had notable careers.
So who's the biggest star to emerge from Porky's? Kim Cattrall. Sure, she’s had a decent career, mostly due to Sex in the City, but I wouldn’t call her a huge name.
After her, the top film success story on the roster is Tony "Meat" Ganios, who played a bit role as a terrorist in Die Hard 2. And that's all she wrote! Actually, when you check out their résumés, you see that most of the cast members of Porky's went on to appear in its two sequels and that was about it. Susan Clark and Alex Karras, of course, moved on to the evergreen pastures of TV's Webster, but they don't count because a) they were already established actors by the time of Porky's and b) Webster? C'mon - I'm sure these people have enough pain in their lives without having us remind them of that debacle.
How is this possible? Even huge stink-bombs like 1985's Moving Violations can boast the presence of both Jennifer Tilly and Don Cheadle. Porky's was a giant hit, dammit! Someone should have been able to use it as their launching pad.
Okay, now you might insist that the number of rising stars in a movie shouldn't be used as a gauge of the quality of the film, and you'd be right - the picture should stand on its own. Taken in that light, Porky's can be seen for what it really is: a tremendously juvenile and uninventive film that uses its focus on sex to try to generate a few cheap laughs.
You might laugh at parts of Porky's, but you will feel cheap if you do so. I was only fifteen when I first saw it, so I could try to excuse myself for the guffaws it generated at that time. However, I'm too embarrassed to even attempt that form of apology. What was wrong with me? Was I that much of a moron? (Note to readers: that was a rhetorical question - please do not e-mail me with any comments upon my current or past levels of idiocy.)
Here's a summary of the opening scene of Porky's, one that very effectively tells you how the following 98 minutes will progress. Pee-wee - sort of our protagonist - wakes up in the morning. As he slowly escapes from the confines of slumber, the camera gradually pulls back from a close-up on his face to eventually show him from the groin up. At that point, we observe that Pee-wee suffers from a serious case of morning wood. Soon thereafter, his mother enters the room, so Pee-wee hurts himself as he flips over to hide his boner. Once Mom leaves, Pee-wee gets out a ruler and measures his manhood. After he consults his "growth chart," he notes woefully that "it's getting smaller!"
Believe it or not, it's all downhill from there. When a film frequently shows its characters laughing uproariously at the events around them, it’s an extremely bad sign. It seemed as though the filmmakers had little confidence in their ability to make the audience laugh. As a result, they decided that many of their scenes would consist of radically extended gigglefests in hope that the infectious nature of laughter would carry the day. It doesn't.
While the main focus of Porky's is to provide as many lame sexually oriented gags as possible, it seems to fancy itself as a poignant coming of age story. One boy has to confront his abusive father - why, we get to see our little Tommy grow to be a man. How touching! The film also provides sensitive explorations of such hot button topics as racism, anti-Semitism, and racist, anti-Semitic southerners. From careful observation and through much thought, I learned that all these things are bad. (Who knew?!)
The biggest drawing card for Porky's remains its most notorious segment, the famous "shower scene". We know that this portion is so famous because it plays prominently on both the DVD’s cover and in its main menu. While the scene actually provides an "important" plot twist - well, for whatever plot there is - it mainly exists so we can see a few minutes of some very nice female full-frontal nudity. And call me a pig if you must, but you’ll hear no objections from me. Thank God for DVD's digital freeze frame capabilities.
Otherwise, Porky’s is a nearly complete bust. The film offers exceedingly little humor and none of its characters - or the actors who portray them - provide any charm or fun. Teen sex comedies can be quite good, as was recently proved in 1999’s American Pie. However, that was an exception, while Porky’s is the rule.