We live in a strange time. The internet has connected us all together and we’ve learned anything about this planet, at this time at least, it’s that everyone is really easily offended. These days you literally cannot say anything without a swarm of social justice warriors setting fire to your hair and while it is easy to lament just how lame everything is now, sometimes you need a film like Porky’s to remind us just how far we’ve come.
As Canada’s answer to Animal House, Porky’s is a high school comedy set in the fifties and is above all about one thing: sex.
It focuses on Edward ‘Pee Wee’ Morris and his school friends. They love to torment each other with practical jokes and it’s all quite harmless. Apart from the fact that they are all desperate to get laid and will do anything to make it happen. One of them is racist too. Like old school ’50s racist.
The story doesn’t put anyone in a great light frankly but here’s the thing, there is still a heart to Porky’s and it is a classic comedy. You just can’t judge it by today’s standards and once you let it do its thing, it’s an easy movie to enjoy. And to be fair, it knows what it is doing and recognises the ’50s as a different era and has fun with it, without censoring itself. But even when you make that mental step, Porky’s is somewhat unrelenting with its political incorrectness.
It starts right away when Pee Wee wakes up. With an erection. The joke being that his mum walks in and he spins around and almost breaks his cock. The fun continues when Billy and Tommy set up the rest of the gang by pretending to arrange a prostitute for them all but then hiring a black guy with a machete to act as her jealous husband, scaring the shit out of all them.
Back in school, we come to realise that for the most part all they want is sex and they’ve even gone as far as to make holes in girls’ shower room to spy on them. However, when that fails they decide to take the nuclear option and cross over into the next state to go to Porky’s, a nightclub with a reputation for having some particularly ‘loose’ ladies working there. However, Porky, the fat redneck owner, steals the boys’ money and his brother, the sheriff, extorts even more out of them before running them out of town.
One of the boys decides to go back and settle it, rather unwisely, a gets the shit beaten out of him while a little subplot evolves as Jimmy, the son of a horrible racist, and Brian, a Jewish boy, get into a fight which Brian wins because of some unconvincing boxing and jiu-jitsu. However, this is important because when Mickey returns bloodied up at the hands of Porky, the gang decide to get their revenge and Brian masterminds a plot to do it right. Jimmy stands up to his arsehole dad and befriends Brian. It’s a nice moment which restores a little faith in whatever the film’s message is. Even if the sex-related side plots are still a little bit ridiculous. Including that of Miss Honeywell, one of the gym coaches (played by Kim Cattrall) who is known as ‘Lassie’ because of her reputation for howling during sex.
The film’s finale sees the gang return to Porky’s and goad him, and his staff, into a confrontation while they put their plan into action. I won’t spoil it here, and if you aren’t too easily offended I recommend seeing the film for yourself.
There’s a lot wrong with Porky’s. It could be seen as demeaning to basically everyone, it’s full of daft humour, bad puns and is primarily about nothing of any consequence but it’s a fun movie. Judging it by today’s standards, it’s potentially offensive but it works and is still funny. Coming of age movies weren’t about what’s right but rather what actually happens. Or at least happened. You’d probably get suspended, arrested and jailed for the stuff that happens in this movie but, guess what, high school kids are little monsters and always have been.
To be honest, the critics weren’t very impressed with it in 1982 but it made a huge amount of money and even spawned a couple of sequels. People have always wanted things that aren’t good for them and while Porky’s isn’t a path to moral enlightenment, it can easily qualify as a guilty pleasure. As long as you realise the actors in it are all in their late twenties and not 16-18 like the characters they portray. Because if they were that age, this would be dark. Dark as fuck.