- Movie Rating -

Porky’s (1981)

| March 22, 1982

I find myself surrounded by a sea of people who seem to love Porky’s.  I wish them well.  I can’t tell you how to be entertained and you can’t tell me what to find funny.  All I can say is that, no, I did not find Porky’s to be funny.  I may have laughed once (stay tuned) but for much of the film I sat stone-faced.

The movie is another in the long league of high school sex films – The Horny Teenager Movie.  These are films that are largely concerned with a gaggle of slow-learners whose preoccupation is the female sex organ when they aren’t discussing, measuring, comparing or obsessing over their own.  In this film, the gang is attending Angel Beach High School in Florida in the 1950s (despite the fact that the actors are clearly pushing 30).  They are a fairly smutty little bunch, that includes at least one meat-headed hulk and one gullible runt who seems to be the center of a lot of stupid practical jokes.

The practical jokes are the break from the pursuit of sexual congress.  The problem is that the jokes aren’t funny because the director doesn’t know how to stage them.  He tells you what is about to happen and then lets it happen without any wit or surprise.

Here’s an example: The guys set up one of their friends with a prostitute.  The gag is that once the guy gets his clothes off, the woman’s hulking husband will come busting in the door in an angry rage and chase the guys bare-assed out of the house.  The problem is that before the gag gets underway the movie keeps telling you what the gag will be – over and over and over they keep telling you the punchline.  The gag is set up, the guy busts in, the victims run out.  That’s it.  There’s no twist, no misdirection, nothing.  The movie spends copious amounts of time explaining and setting things up and then things go exactly as planned.  That’s the antithesis of comedy, isn’t it?  We’re suppose to be surprised.

The whole movie is like that. The endless practical jokes are set up and sprung without any kind of timing or wit.  Worse is the film’s preoccupation with sex.  The women in this film are not people.  They are outlets.  The guys spend a disturbing amount of time either peeking in the shower room, playing with prophylactics and jockstraps and otherwise trying to embarrass each other with unexpected public nudity.  Since they are so single-mindedly fixated on dirty sex and since the women have no other function, the sex scenes turn out to have a creepy vibe to them.  There is an absence to the act.  Sex is taking with such hostility here that you never feel any passion or joy, and yes, that includes the woman whose reaction to sexual response is to howl like a dog.

I was frustrated for most of this movie.  The characters are filthy and written at a singular level.  They aren’t funny.  What they do is not funny.  What they say is not funny.  And YET, I did laugh once.  It’s a fallout scene after one of the kids puts his member in the hole in the girl’s shower, the stone-faced gym coach Ms. Ballbricker has to describe the offending organ to the school’s administrator while the rest of the faculty sits in the foreground trying to stifle their laughter.  THAT I found funny.  It was set up right.  It was established right.  It was acted right, and I had a good laugh.  I wish that kind of attention had been given to the rest of the movie.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(1981) View IMDB Filed in: Comedy