Release Date: November 13, 1981
Director: Bob Clark
Starring: Kim Cattrall, Scott Colomby, Kaki Hunter, Nancy Parsons, Alex Karras, Susan Clark.
Tag Lines: “Get It At Porky’s.”
“One Fun Place, One Hip Movie!”
“Keep an eye out for the funniest movie about growing up ever made!”
“You’ll be glad you came!”
“The RAUNCHIEST Movie about growing up ever made!”
Relevance: For those of you that had HBO in the early 1980’s, you are more than familiar with the HBO Guide that was delivered by mail every month. I have mentioned a few times before on this blog that I absolutely loved receiving it. As soon as it arrived, I would read it from cover to cover and map out when I would watch that month’s featured movies. (Obviously I had no life or friends. Please don’t judge me.) Some time late 1982 or early 1983, I remember looking at the back cover to one of those Guides which showed the following month’s big movie and seeing the art work for ‘Porky’s.’ (See above if you need a visual.) I can’t tell you how much that visual excited my then twelve year old self.
‘Porky’s’ was a very popular film that was released late in 1981 and exploded the following year, becoming the fifth highest grossing film of 1982. When I say popular, I mostly mean with audiences as critics pretty much dismissed it as a celebration of bad behavior. And when I say audiences, I mostly mean those with penises. Couple the theatrical poster with the tag line of “The raunchiest movie about growing up ever made” and you won’t have to guess why. I couldn’t wait until I got the next month’s HBO Guide so that I could figure out when I was going to “sneak” watch ‘Porky’s.’ Being only twelve, I was sure my parents wouldn’t allow me to openly watch an R-rated movie with nudity and strong sexual content. Surprisingly, I was wrong.
I am pretty sure that my dad was just as eager and excited to watch ‘Porky’s.’ The night that it premiered on HBO, my mom was in the kitchen doing kitchen-y things, which meant either paying bills, ironing, baking or drinking brandy, and my dad and me were in the living room watching TV. To my delight, he had it on HBO. I already knew the movie that was about to play and I have a feeling he did too. So we started to watch. There is a scene near the beginning of the film where a woman is, how shall I delicately put this, pretending to reach climax. She was quite loud. About five seconds into the moans of pleasure my mother yells, “What the hell are you watching?” My dad responds, “They aren’t showing anything, she’s pretending.” My mom then asked again what it was. When my dad finally confessed ‘Porky’s,’ the voice from the kitchen yelled, “TURN IT!”
Sadly he did. But after about two minutes, he flipped it back to HBO. All praise the remote control. He even lowered the volume, but I will not admit to that in the court of law and we began watching it again. Thankfully there were not any more loud *ahem* noises to worry about, so my dad and I continued to watch ‘Porky’s’ together. As my eyes and jaw were as open as could be, I listened to my dad laughing hysterically. He loved every second of the high school high jinks that was happening on the television screen. Set in 1954, I think it really reminded my dad of his younger days. It was one of those movies that made him laugh until he cried and that made me laugh.
After watching it the first time, I secretly would watch it again and again whenever I could. I probably watched it over ten times while it played on HBO that first month. There were two sequels to the film and when they showed up on HBO over the next five years, there was always a resurgence of the first film. So I would re-watch the film again. The sequels were equally as raunchy, but there was absolutely nothing like the original. Every time I watched it I would always think of my dad laughing, and that always put a smile on my face.
Today’s Thoughts: Going in to today’s movie, my thought was that ‘Porky’s’ would follow suit with a recurring theme of “it’s so bad, it’s good.” There are certain movies (see 318. Flash Gordon, 301.Two of a Kind and yesterday’s 134. Wholly Moses!) that are technically pretty bad but for some reason or another I absolutely love them. My assumption about ‘Porky’s’ was wrong…sort of.
‘Porky’s’ is a surprisingly funny, entertaining, good movie. I hadn’t seen the film since the 1980’s, and it made me laugh quite a few times, mostly because of the silly, albeit crass, antics and its charming cast, especially Dan Monahan as Pee Wee. Overall, it is breezy, nostalgic fun. I couldn’t help but think of 1999’s ‘American Pie’ while watching it. ‘Porky’s’ is definitely a strong inspiration for that franchise using similar plot points with only generational changes. If I were born fifteen years later, ‘American Pie’ might be here instead. With that said, ‘Porky’s’ is still quite rude, raunchy, sexist and misogynistic to a fault, but I guess one could say “welcome to the 1980’s.” I cringed just as much as I smiled today, which does make the film also kinda bad.
In the same breath, at least the film was open to exposing men just as much as women. Yes, ‘Porky’s’ marks the twelfth time on my list of most influential movies of all time to show a penis. Quite a few, actually. And by the way, the character of “Meat” was totally miscast, in my humble opinion. If it so moves you, check out the eleven other “penis” films here: 139. Trainspotting, 144. Fargo, 183. Terminator 2: Judgement Day, 199. Six Degrees of Separation, 209. The Fisher King, 295. Being John Malkovich, 296. Wildcats, 332. The Crying Game, 335. Born on the Fourth of July, 343. Sideways and 357. Amadeus.
‘Porky’s’ is definitely not for everyone as it is an acquired taste for sure. But despite its flaws, which I will mostly blame for the time it was produced, it is important to the 1980’s pop culture zeitgeist. It brings back such great stories and memories for me and for that alone it will always be worth the watch.
Ways to Watch: iTunes, DVD Availability.