Porky's (1981)
December 12, 2022 7:53 AM - Subscribe

High school friends Pee Wee (Dan Monahan), Tommy (Wyatt Knight), Billy (Mark Herrier) and Mickey (Roger Wilson) want to lose their virginity. But when they're kicked out of a strip club after the owner, Porky (Chuck Mitchell), takes their money, they plot revenge. While they try to get back at him, they deal with other teen troubles, including Pee Wee's worries that his "equipment" is shrinking, their sexually opinionated gym teacher (Kim Cattrall) and a spy hole in the girl's locker room.

Written and directed by Bob Clark.

34% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. "Gleeful in its misogyny and celebratory of bad behavior, Porky's is an intermittently funny farce that will leave audiences feeling in need of a shower," says RT in its summary.

Currently available for digital rental. JustWatch listing.

Today, I'm going to post six movies that are problematic and/or made by/starring problematic people, but also either: have merit/are acclaimed; won some awards; are/were very popular; are/were culturally notable; or have a certain amount of cultural cachet or staying power. I'll be tagging these #problematicmovies.

In this entry in our series, Bob Clark, who made quite possibly the ultimate nostalgic Christmas movie (A Christmas Story), as well as solidified the slasher as a subgenre (in the very terrific Black Christmas), veers away from the birth of Christ here to also make the quintessential sexist horndog movie.
posted by DirtyOldTown (22 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:53 AM on December 12, 2022

Mark Herrier would go to direct the horror film Popcorn. It's his sole feature length directing credit.
posted by miss-lapin at 8:31 AM on December 12, 2022 [1 favorite]

Have we really never covered Popcorn here? I kind of love that one. Weird mix of slasher, gothic, 80s teen comedy, and genre film sendup. Plus: underappreciated 80s scream queen JILL SCHOELEN!
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:38 AM on December 12, 2022 [3 favorites]

It's a favorite of mine as well. I'll post it this evening when I have time to craft it the loving post it deserves.
posted by miss-lapin at 10:20 AM on December 12, 2022

posted by praemunire at 10:32 AM on December 12, 2022

I saw this once, as a teenager, because it felt like a rite of passage back then - it was the subject of many conversations amongst pre- and early teen boys when it came out - and never thought about it again. What little I do remember of it has me quite sure that it would not stand up to any rewatch; it was a gross little film.
posted by nubs at 11:07 AM on December 12, 2022

I remember watching this with my roommate in the late 90s (originally saw it in the 80s when I was way too young). About midway through we just looked at each other and were like, "Dear god, the amount of life these kids experience in the span of a couple days is mind-boggling!" The "hijinks" at school (aka borderline sexual assault etc.), the whole scenario at Porky's, the subplot about the one kid who gets abused by his dad and takes it out on the Jewish kid -- so much STUFF happens to them.
posted by Saxon Kane at 11:11 AM on December 12, 2022

I was subject to the same 1980's cultural forces encouraging me to seek out boobs on cable as most of my Gen X male peers, but even so, I remember thinking even as a young lad that this movie felt mean-spirited and crass in a way that made it hard to enjoy.

Mostly I just think it's wild that the same writer/director is arguably the seminal voice in each of: nostalgic holiday movies, 70s/80s slashers, and boobsploitation.

That's a term, right? Boobsploitation? If it's not, it ought to be, because you already know exactly what I mean.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 11:15 AM on December 12, 2022

nubs: It's weird, and mixed. The misogyny/horndog aspects are pretty bad (although I'd say significantly exceeded by Revenge of the Nerds), but there's also little glimmers of positivity: there's a subplot about one of the teens bullying another guy because he's Jewish, but then we learn he's in turn bullied by his drunken father, and he stands up to him and rejects his earlier anti-semitic behavior; Porky is very clearly a sleazy piece of shit, and his brother is a corrupt Sheriff, and they both get well-deserved comeuppance for beating on kids. It's even stranger in Porky's 2, in which the kids take on the KKK, hypocritical evangelicals, and corrupt politicians to defend an interracial production of Romeo & Juliet, alongside all the juvenile sex stuff.
posted by Saxon Kane at 11:19 AM on December 12, 2022 [3 favorites]

The sequel, Porky's II: the Next Day, while still inexcusably horny, has a far better message, with The Gang fighting bible thumpers, corrupt politicians, and the Klan.

I watched part of Die Hard 2 the other day, and spotted one of the baddies as Tony Ganios 'hey, that's Meat!'

A memorable line reading of "Oh, Yeaah!" from a young Kim Cattrall.

TIFO that this was partly financed by Astral Media, technically making it (a highlight of) Canadian Cinema.
posted by bartleby at 11:19 AM on December 12, 2022 [2 favorites]

On preview: Jinx! re Porky's 2.
posted by bartleby at 11:24 AM on December 12, 2022

bartleby: JINX!

I remember thinking even as a young lad that this movie felt mean-spirited and crass in a way that made it hard to enjoy.

That's interesting; I don't have quite the same negative associations with this one -- I actually remember it as having a strong sense of nostalgia (being set in the 50s and based on the director's own experiences). And while it is full of gross juvenile teenage boy sexuality, there's at least some turnabout: arguably the most inexcusable action the boys take is when they spy on the girls and Tommy thrusts his dick through the peephole. But, he almost gets it yanked off by Beulah Balbricker, so... probably still doesn't justify it.
posted by Saxon Kane at 11:27 AM on December 12, 2022 [2 favorites]

Jinx on Jinx!
posted by Saxon Kane at 11:27 AM on December 12, 2022 [1 favorite]

As a Jinx penalty(?), we both have to (re)watch Losin' It. Teen Tom Cruise! Pre-Cheers Shelly Long!
posted by bartleby at 11:38 AM on December 12, 2022

I remember critic David Edelstein on Slate beating the drum on the artistic merits of raunchy sex comedies for a while in the '90s. He would pull out Porky's as an example of a sex comedy totally lacking in redeeming features, for the contrast.

I saw this at the "right" age. The shots of attractive naked women were appreciated, but even as a 12 or 13 year old boy the attempts to get laughs seemed so desperate.

Incidentally, my freshman intro to theater class at UCSD was taught by Eric Christmas, who played the principal. He was a hugely entertaining lecturer, but also the kind of actor who would hold forth on the uplifting and magical power of the performing arts. No one ever had the guts to ask him about this movie.
posted by mark k at 12:57 PM on December 12, 2022 [2 favorites]

According to Wikipedia, Animal House was the first of the "raunchier" American sex comedies, and Porky's is considered to be the first of the "teen sex comedy" sub-genre. And according to Box Office Mojo, it was the 6th highest grossing film of 1982, behind

5. An Officer and a Gentleman
4. On Golden Pond
3. Rocky III
2. Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark
1. E.T. The Extraterrestrial

What a strange year.
posted by Saxon Kane at 3:09 PM on December 12, 2022 [2 favorites]

mark k:

The Principal from Porky's was his most famous role, and he was also in Attack of the Killer Tomatoes. I would bet he probably had a good sense of humor about these things :)
posted by Saxon Kane at 3:17 PM on December 12, 2022 [1 favorite]

This was a movie that everyone talked about when I was in school, but the only kids who saw it had older siblings. I bad-mouthed it a lot, to solidify the sensitive-intellectual-liberal image I was trying to cultivate, but I never actually watched it until this year.

What struck me at first was how tame it is! For a movie all about going to the strip club / brothel, the scenes inside there were all sizzle and no steak. The only sex I remember was between two high school gym teachers, and (unseen, inside a school bus) between a couple of high school students; nothing in Porky's (the club) itself.

What "Porky's" is really doing is framing a bunch of 1954 high school bro hijinx as part of the 1960s sexual revolution and youth counterculture. One of the very first scenes has our heroes pulling a prank which, when revealed, shows that they're comfortably friendly with a black man. Porky and his crew are the stereotypical southern racists and corrupt authority figures. As Saxon Kane mentions, one major subplot is the way an anti-semitic boy learns to reject his father's prejudices and becomes friends with a Jewish character. Free Love is celebrated and the prudish ball-breaker character is humiliated, although it has to brush past the whole "no birth control pill" problem by constantly mentioning rubbers.

I don't mean to say that all the shit in here is good and you should like it. I just mean that it's really hitting hard on the youth counterculture's values of the late Sixties. Y'know, the young people rejecting the dead hand of authority of "anyone over 30," because it's all those bad old vibes that cause racism and bigotry and injustice, etc. etc. And of course the ideal woman is a loose chick with no sexual hang-ups who's always down for a good time. (That part of Free Love got well-justified pushback from the women's movement in the early '70s, which is why I pinpointed the movie's worldview to the '60s.) In one of the final scenes, Coach Brackett and Miss Honeywell ("Lassie") say they're quitting their jobs at the school, specifically because they're still in their mid-20s, and we see them hanging out with the high school kids, choosing to ally with the youth rebellion against the bad old authoritarians.

It's a good thing I waited so long to watch Porky's because I never would've spotted all that when I was 13 years old!
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 12:35 AM on December 13, 2022 [5 favorites]

I may have to rewatch this. I'm a huge fan of Black Christmas and until I saw it approximately 6,067 times, I liked A Christmas Story. I remember seeing Porky's as a kid and even though I wouldn't have known how to describe it, the boys' horniness felt like it was at the expense of girls, as opposed to everyone just having a fun, sexy time. It's not like I was the most sophisticated movie viewer at 11, though.

I think conversations like this are useful though, and this is why I use the #problematicmovies tag, just to acknowledge a potential landmine, not to squash discussion.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:17 AM on December 13, 2022 [1 favorite]

For a good 20 years, Porky's was the highest grossing Canadian movie ever made. I think one of the fat greek wedding movies finally knocked it off it's pedestal.

I know that I enjoyed it as a teenager. All I can remember about it now is the glory hole scene
posted by hoodrich at 4:15 PM on December 13, 2022 [1 favorite]

In this entry in our series, Bob Clark, who made quite possibly the ultimate nostalgic Christmas movie (A Christmas Story), as well as solidified the slasher as a subgenre (in the very terrific Black Christmas),

As well as the dismal one-two punch of Baby Geniuses and its sequel. What a peculiar career.

I somehow thought the pair of those — not even top shelf among talking baby franchises — was the last films he did. However, appears he subsequently directed a TV movie, The Karate Dog:
When LAPD computer expert Peter Fowler investigates the killing of an old man in Chinatown, he finds the only witness is his dog, Cho Cho. But Fowler soon discovers Cho Cho is the only dog in the world who can speak to humans... not only that, Cho Cho is an expert in martial arts. When they join forces to track down the mastermind behind the death of Cho Cho's master, it leads these unusual partners into uncovering a dangerous conspiracy which puts both of their lives in danger.
... and then some uncredited directing work on Blonde and Blonder:
Comic mayhem ensues when two lovely blondes, Dee (Pamela Anderson) and Dawn (Denise Richards), are mistaken as international mob killers.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 4:55 PM on December 18, 2022

I saw this in the theater when I was 12-ish, and I laughed until I cried. Although I was raised in a Monty-Python-loving household and was familiar with a bit of naughtiness I'd never seen that kind of raunchy humor, and it was amazing.

I'm 100% certain I would not be amused today, and I recommend it to nobody, but it still holds a spot in my heart for being so novel and hilarious to young me.
posted by The corpse in the library at 4:44 PM on December 30, 2022

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