Rewatching 'Porky's, I'm reminded of how writer, director, and producer Bob Clark deserves a great deal more recognition and credit than he's given today. A decade earlier, the filmmaker made a silly zombie comedy in 'Children Shouldn't Play with Dead Things,' and 'Black Christmas' is a precursor of the holiday-themed slasher horror genre. 'A Christmas Story,' arguably his most popular and widely-known movie, is now deemed a holiday classic and has grown into a traditional watch every year around Christmas. I wonder how many actually realize all these films come from the same warped imagination, especially with 'Porky's' and 'Christmas' being based on the same childhood memoirs of Clark's youth. We can almost imagine the perverted Pee Wee (Dan Monahan) as what little Ralphie (Peter Billingsley) eventually grows up to be.
Anyhow, the point is that Clark's movies can be viewed as being ahead of their time or thanked for essentially kick-starting new trends. The unexpected success of 'Porky's' heralded a different type of teen comedy, one with a sexually-charged raunchiness and the wild, mischievous misadventures of teenage boys. The genre, and to some degree the formula, were nothing new, but Clark definitely spiced things up considerably. It's the vulgar, smuttier and even at times darker version of Lucas's 'American Graffitti.' The 80s are littered with these sorts of comedies thanks to six horny high school seniors in fictional Angel Beach, Florida and their debauched quest to lose their virginity. There's no denying 'American Pie' wouldn't exist without Clark doing it first. We could even take it a step further and suggest it opened doors for future John Hughes favorites.
The film's title comes from the name of the nightclub the boys (Monahan, Wyatt Knight, Tony Ganios, Mark Herrier, Cyril O'Reilly, and Roger Wilson) visit in hopes of becoming men. The joint's owner is a large, portly Southerner (Chuck Mitchell) who doesn't take too kindly to the underage kids, mostly because he's a prankster with a prejudice grudge against the boys' county and also because of fear of losing his liquor license. One of them, Mickey (Wilson), takes personal offense at the way they're treated and keeps returning for revenge. With the support of the local sheriff (Alex Karras), who happens to be Porky's younger brother, the proprietor and his bumpkin crew beat on Mickey until one day he must be hospitalized. Thus begins a bitter rivalry to teach Porky a valuable lesson, ending in a hilariously memorable and terrifically satisfying climax.
But the journey to that riotous conclusion offers other unforgettable hijinks and shenanigans, which make it a cult classic amongst those who grew up watching the film in their youth. Ms. Balbricker (Nancy Parsons), which the boy's intentionally mispronounce as "ball-breaker," and her mission of having a penis line-up remains a sidesplitting fiasco with the school's principal. A very young Kim Cattrall makes an appearance as Miss Honeywell, a P.E. teacher with an unusually disgusting turn-on and an odd behavior during intercourse that has earned her the nickname "Lassie." For many, the shower scene in the girl's locker-room is a notable favorite, with the best bit still being Pee Wee shouting at the girl blocking his view. Personally, I love the prank Billy and Tommy pull on the other boys with prostitute Cherry Forever (Susan Clark) and the guy busting through the door with a bloody machete.
In revisiting 'Porky's,' which turned 30 earlier this year, I've found even more to enjoy in Bob Clark's coming-of-age comedy of sexual debauchery. While the boys are in search of satisfying their base urges, there is something deeper and more meaningful also happening in the lives of these close-knit friends. As they grow into adulthood, they are faced with difficult challenges, most prevalent in the subplot between Tim's abused alcoholic father and overcoming his own prejudices against Brian Schwartz (Scott Colomby). Their sexual awakening is matched by the hardships of the adult world, making their hooligan mischief into something suggestive of needing to relieve their stress and frustration, which in turn makes Porky's comeuppance all that more significant. Or, the comedy classic can be simply enjoyed as a laugh-riot series of teenage sexual misadventures from a good filmmaker who deserves more recognition.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment celebrates 'Porky's' 30th anniversary as a Walmart exclusive. The Region A locked, BD50 disc is housed inside a blue eco-cutout keepcase and goes straight to the main menu with a static pic, music and the standard selection of options.
Pee Wee and friends cause a heap of trouble on Blu-ray with this mostly pleasing but not quite up to par 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 encode. It appears the same master from the last DVD was used, and this high-def video only offers a slight improvement.
Considering its age and low-budget origins, the picture is quite nice if a bit rough around the edges. A heavy grain structure washes over the 1.85:1 image, and it's fairly stable with a welcomed film-like quality. It's more prominent is a couple nighttime sequences, almost looking like mild mosquito noise. Shadows also tend to obscure a bit of the finer details. Definition and textures are acceptable but not the strongest we've seen for catalog title of this age. Some scenes, especially close-ups, are better than others, but the overall transfer is not very consistent and pretty soft throughout. Much of this can be attributed to the slight soft-focus photography. Contrast is good but fairly bland with deep black levels for a majority of the runtime. Primaries are brighter than before, but the palette as a whole is average and not necessarily the cleanest.
The six horny teens do a much better job satisfying their adolescent urges with this DTS-HD Master Audio mono soundtrack. The center channel provides wide, discrete imaging, giving the film a surprisingly excellent sense of presence and space. The smallest sound in the background or in the far distance is terrifically heard moving across the screen effortlessly and convincingly. Ignoring some of what seems like ADR work, dialogue is cleanly delivered and precise so that we can hear every raunchy joke and naughty language. Except for a very mild and ultimately negligible bit of distortion in the upper frequencies, dynamics and acoustics are distinct with good fidelity and range. There's really nothing going on in the low-end, but overall, the lossless mix offers a great deal of fun and enjoyment.
Supplements are ported over from "The One Size Fits All Edition" DVD from a few years ago, and can also be found in the Ultimate Collection box set.
The raunchier, vulgar, and smuttier alternative to Lucas's 'American Graffitti,' 'Porky's' is the classic teen sex comedy, igniting a genre trend that has come to largely define the movies of 80s pop culture. Celebrating its 30th anniversary, the film remains a laugh-riot of six high school seniors, their sexual misadventures and their rivalry with the nightclub that refused to satisfy their hormonal urges. The Blu-ray arrives with an improved picture quality, but not a dramatic one, although the audio presentation is a definite step up. Supplements are the same as the previous DVD release, but fans will want to pick up this 80s classic nonetheless.