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LIFE

Porky's: the 1982 film that launched the teen sex comedy genre

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 22 November, 2014, 11:15pm
UPDATED : Monday, 22 December, 2014, 1:30pm

Porky's
Dan Monahan, Mark Herrier, Wyatt Knight
Director: Bob Clark

Although certainly not the first of its kind, the runaway box office success of this Canadian-American production ensured studios would forever be looking for one more film about young men and their desperate desire to "lose it".

Porky's remains to this day the highest-ever grossing Canadian film - incredible given that critics rounded on the movie for its misogyny and crude humour (which seems so tame on rewatching). But its success was built on two things that fascinate all teenage boys: breasts. Or at least it was based on the hope the film's predominantly young male audience had of getting a glimpse of a few.

An "R" rating limited who could see the film on its initial theatrical release, but it was like manna dropped from heaven in the 1980s once your parents invested in a VCR and left you and your friends to your own devices. The plot is aimed squarely at teenage boys and plays (in quite sinister fashion, on reflection) on the shared fascination and/or fear they have for women and the female form.

The trailers promised a shower scene and the film delivered as the group of lads at its centre took turns peeking through a hole they drilled into a girls' shower room. If you wanted to go high-brow, you might point to the objectification that pervaded the entire production, but the filmmakers were obviously setting their sights on matters more, shall we say, south of the border.

Director-writer Bob Clark links a series of set-piece pranks together with the story of how one character - Pee Wee (Dan Monahan) - tries to lose his virginity. And it's a formula that has been followed ever since, right through to the likes of the similarly successful American Pie and Road Trip franchises.

Pee Wee and his chums head to the brothel that gives the film its title, but their quest is foiled, ending in a feud with some lowlifes that gives the filmmakers a chance to take jabs at such issues as racial discrimination. One source of much of the humour is the fact that the film is set in the 1950s, but everyone thinks and acts like it's the 1980s.

What the film doesn't bring is any of the sense of sentimentality that has been infused into productions of the same ilk as the years have passed. There are some brief reflections on friendship (from the male perspective, of course), but no lingering wistfulness for an age of innocence. For the most part, the crudeness extends to the actions taken by the characters and the building pressure Pee Wee feels seems as real as it is for most people in real life.

Porky's might be made for laughs, but it also acutely captures the fear all men have of not being able to measure up to the task.