15th Jun2014

‘Porkys’ Blu-ray Review (Arrow Video)

by Paul Metcalf

Stars: Dan Monahan, Mark Herrier, Wyatt Knight, Roger Wilson, Cyril O’Reilly, Tony Ganios, Kaki Hunter, Kim Cattrall, Nancy Parsons, Boyd Gaines, Doug McGrath, Chuck Mitchell, Alex Karras | Written and Directed by Bob Clark

Porkys-Blu

When we think of the rise of the teen sex comedy in the current movie generation the focus easily moves to American Pie and maybe even Superbad.  The brashness and move against being controlled by the ratings system pushed the boundaries of what could be included on-screen.  Looking back to the eighties though there was a movie that arguably created the blueprint from which these films would work from.  That film was Bob Clark’s Porky’s.

Set in 1954 we see a group of high school kids from Florida, trying to find the best way to get their friend Pee-Wee (Dan Monahan) laid, and finally “lose his cherry”.  With a few disastrous failures under their belt, the decision is taking to visit a sleazy nightclub in the Everglades known as Porky’s.  When Porky (Chuck Mitchell) and his corrupt sheriff brother (Alex Karras) humiliate the boys though it leads to them seeking revenge.

Though the revenge on Porky is the main theme of the film the real meat of the plot is the friendship between the teenagers and the escapades that not only they get up to but also their teachers.  In the commentary and documentary Bob Clark talks about how a lot of the humour we see in the film comes from real life experience and stories from school friends, which may be urban legend but still add to the humour of what we see on-screen.  Whether it’s the “Mike Hunt” phone prank or Miss Honeywell (Kim Cattrall) and her “Lassie” moment these are still memorable and very funny scenes that you can’t help but laugh at.  Its infamous shower scene and encounter with Balbricker (Nancy Parsons) that is the iconic moment and is often the moment many people think of when the movie is mentioned.

What is the most impressive aspect of Porky’s though is the way it touches on issues and looks at them in a realistic way based on the time it was set, but still manages to show that this was not just accepted as being normal.  Racism and anti-Semitism is something that was and still is a part of society but Bob Clark makes sure that this is something to be looked down on, and was something that need to change.  It’s a message that is promoted but is never allowed to pull the movie down, showing that comedies can still be used to look for social change.

For a film that could easily be called sexist it also impressively fights against falling into that trap.  We see nudity yes, but we see it from both sexes and if anything the women always come out on top.  The boys may do stupid stuff but it is often they who pay for it.  In a detrimental way though it’s interesting to note that many of the actors seem to have had their careers affected by being in Porky’s, which in ways shows the divisive nature of the so-called sex comedy.  I doubt sex comedies make too much of an impact on the careers of people who star in them now, and Porky’s never seemed to do Kim Cattrall’s career any damage really.

The last time I watched Porky’s before watching it for this release was on an old VHS recorded off television so you can imagine the quality I’m comparing the new Blu-ray transfer to.  Seeing the film given the Arrow Video treatment really shows it in all its glory.  For special features we also have a commentary track from Bob Clark as well as a documentary about the making of the film.  Another short documentary also features Mr Skin looking at the history of the eighties teen sex comedies and the use of nudity in them, which is interesting because he looks at the way the movie industry changed, and how Porky’s hit a so-called “sweet spot” of popularity, before the industry looked away from such movies. Although the menu does feel a little sparse when it comes to the features, what is there works well. Bob Clark has many stories about the making of the film, you can tell that he is proud of the film he was able to make, and that he managed to get it released.  The booklet included with the film also looks at more of the industry of the film as well as including another interview with Bob Clark, which is well worth a read.

If you believe Mr Skin, Porky’s is one of the most important sex comedies to come out of the early eighties and for the most part I do agree with him.  Influencing many of the comedies we see today Porky’s has a place in movie history that fits nicely with others such as Animal House, though I’m not saying it is as good as the Landis classic of course which I see as one of my favourite comedies from that time.  Still as funny as ever it’s nice to see Arrow Video once again take a cult classic and show it some well-deserved love.  For fans of Porky’s and modern teen comedies like American Pie and Superbad, this is a release that is well worth a look, and probably the best way to see it at this time.

Porky’s is available on Blu-ray and Blu-ray Steelbook from June 16th 2014, courtesy of Arrow Video.

**** 4/5

Review originally posted on PissedOffGeek
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