Bob Clark was really all over the place as a director. The guy who brought us the likes of The Christmas Story, Black Christmas and Porky's is the same man who later gave us a helping of Baby Geniuses. Go figure! Today marks the bittersweet release of Porky's: The Ultimate Collection, a box set of Clark's sexy, adolescent look at the fifties. While it has been nearly two months since his death at the hands of an errant car, it has been twenty-five years since the boys brought Porky down.
The crowning glory of the set is the original Porky's -- an interesting mixture of laughs, sexiness and social consciousness. Clark wiped away the sappy, sugary sweet world that the 50's was usually painted in, and revealed an innocently risqué center that sometimes soars with goofy hilarity and sometimes seems aged and dated. On the one hand, it's hard not to laugh as you see the beginnings of Samantha in Kim Cattrall's sex shouts, eager boys sitting naked butt cheek to naked butt cheek in hopes to get a taste of Cherry Forever and Balbricker grabbing on to the penis with a mole. On the other hand, there are the tired scenes in between, many of which happen when the film dips into its namesake. I wonder how much funnier this film would've been without the whole Porky revenge scenario. In these moments, the film unfortunately flounders like an old, aged dud.
Yet, what is often forgotten about this film is its progressiveness. Determined to be accurate and questioning without being preachy, Clark includes Brian Schwartz, the new Jewish kid whose presence forces Tim to question his bigoted thoughts. And there's also the rampant full-frontal man shots, which I still can't believe ever made it past the censors all those years ago. There is, indeed, a penis sticking out of that hole when Balbricker runs towards it! Finally, there's Clark's determination to keep the women strong and in charge, although his idea of strength was having girls not run screaming out of the shower when peeped on, or an infamously loose girl who still demands respect from her peers.
A bit of that goes out the window with the next installation, Porky's II: The Next Day. Like any funny sequel, the laughs aren't of the same caliber as the original, and some of that fought-off preachiness slipped in with the second try. This time, the kids fight a preacher who thinks Shakespeare is indecent, and the Ku Klux Klan, who makes things pretty uncomfortable for a Native American student in the production. When the movie channels Monty Python in the restaurant scene, it's smirk-worthy but overdone; however, I can't help but love the scheming that leads the Klan into a gym full of Native Americans. It is definitely sweet payback.
Then... Ugh... Then comes Porky's Revenge, which might just be the worst movie I have ever seen. Although I had heard from some that it is comparable to its predecessors, I could barely make it through the film. The movie gives new meaning to jumping the shark, as the players have aged six years since the original, yet are still in school. This would be less painful if all the actors weren't in their 20's when the series started, but even the 90210 effect isn't as bad as the flimsy attempt to put the flick in the fifties. A few retro outfits and cars are supposed to make us buy the era, when they're all running around with 80's-style makeup and hair -- in rooms with modern furnishings. It's so abysmal, I'm not sure that mass amounts of drinking could make it better, but please tell me if I'm wrong.
As with any DVD box set, it all comes down to the special features. There's a great full-length commentary by the late Bob Clark, where he gives a lot of background to the film. It's a trivia treasure chest that definitely fleshes out his vision; however, it would've been nice to hear from others who were involved. It's this lack of the other players that makes most of the rest of the special features fall flat. There's a Peephole featurette with Clark, but that's pretty much interchangeable with the commentary -- both delve into many of the same things. You can see the director in the flesh, but it just made me wonder more about the cast and how they look now, since none of the actors made it big.
There is also another featurette where comedians try to be funny about their memories of the film, but it's really not worth the effort, and is often a bit annoying. Beyond that, there are the tried and true trailers and one extra goody that's amusing -- the sales pitch for the 80's video game and its "outstanding graphics," which shows us just how far the industry has come over the last few decades. My, how times have changed, electronically that is. Sexually, it seems that we haven't come too far from the 50's and 80's. Boys still want the boobs, and they still can't strip like women can on-screen.
Coming in at roughly $20, it is obvious that the sequels were thrown in to the Porky's box set to get them out there -- especially seeing that the first all on its own is only a few bucks less. So really, unless you really loathe the Next Day and the Revenge (which might very well be the case), it's probably worth it to just get out some extra change and pick up the box set to see what happens to all of those scheming, Floridian high schoolers. Either way, I'd suggest a gaggle of friends to watch it with you. Porky's is much more fun with a crowd.