PCU, became a seminal movie in my life immediately when I was introduced to it in 1995. Ever since it has spawned innumerable conversations, rabid quoting, influenced life decisions and cemented instantaneous friendships. But why is a sports blog reviewing PCU you ask? Well we will delve deeply into the intramural ultimate frisbee finals, so that will cover the sports angle, I’m only half kidding. In reality here we are 3 days after the Super Bowl, and there is very little to say except Seattle dominated. I don’t watch enough basketball or hockey to articulately comment about either’s current happenings. The Olympics don’t start til this weekend. And the Red Sox don’t report for spring training for 12=1 more days. So the best question to really ask is, why NOT PCU?
PCU is simply stated a college film that follows the misadventures of a rag tag group of underachievers as they plod their way through college with little zeal for academic achievement. That’s the short answer. In truth PCU is satirical comedy at its best. Smartly written and punctuated with references that only become more recognizable in their absurdity, as time marches on. The combination of witty repartee and physical pranks and pratfalls go hand in hand in creating a movie that was shunned by parents and critics and adored by their children. I truly feel that PCU hit theatres at the wrong time for a lot of reasons, mostly that the generation that preceded mine into college wanted a warped 50’s cornball college experience, where as the generations since crave Animal House. Plus the references to a lot of the, extremely true, politically correct references were in their pop culture infancy and only in hindsight have their prophetic roles in our culture come to light.
Join me on a trip to 1994, relive a bit of your youth, and enjoy my pointed commentary as we join the persons of the Pit in uniting a campus divided in PCU.
-As the 20th Century Fox logo appears we hear this quote that Electric Flag guitarist Mike Bloomfield said to the crowd at the Monterey Pop Festival,
This is… This is something, man. This is our generation, man. We’re all together, man, and it’s groovy. Dig yourselves, ’cause it’s really groovy.
You don’t know it at the time, but it really sets a great tone for everything the movie is going to talk about. Keep it in mind as we move along.
-Bus trips, who remembers those? Long, arduous and inevitably someone falls asleep and leaves that spit, drool, residue on the window. Who has to clean that off the bus? When do they do it? How many folks have unknowingly put their face in someones else’s spit residue without knowing it? That’s it I’m wearing a face mask everywhere from now on.
-Port Chester Connecticut, a small quaint New England Town of 16,000 people. Just like town I went to college in, except I went to a state school.
-Welcome to Port Chester University! Get it? If you don’t, its going to be a long review for you.
-Blonde kid is a Prefrosh, a high school senior on a visit to the college to spend a night and see if it is the type of place he would like to attend in the fall. He has been assigned to James Andrews, NOT the renowned orthopedic surgeon who can be seen in a pom-pom hat at Redskin home games.
-Prefrosh walks into a house that formerly housed a fraternity. While the pictures still exist on the walls representing the classes, in the 60’s the pictures took a distinct turn. In fact the 1993 photo is simply a Polaroid stuck to the wall with what appears to be chewing gum.
-He makes his way, cautiously, to the main hall where he finds a band kind of rehearsing, 2 guys playing roller hockey and 1 guy in pajamas watching TV.
-Prefrosh asks 1 of the girl guitar players if James Andrews is there. She has to pause and try and figure out who James Andrews is, finally realizing he is talking about Droz. As a person who has gone by a nickname most of my life I’ve had numerous friends blank on my given name when introducing me to other people. I find it funny.
-This guitar playing chick leads him to the basement and tells Prefrosh he can find Droz in room 2, last door on the left. We then get a point of view shot from Prefrosh of the chick’s ass. Its totally gratuitous, even if she is in jorts. I nod approvingly.
-Prefrosh knocks on Droz’s door. As the door opens we are introduced to James Andrews aka Droz aka Jeremy Piven, flat on his back asleep, smoking a cigarette. As much as Piven has done since, he will always be Droz to me, fuck Entourage.
-Droz grabs Prefrosh by the neck, asks for coffee, then screams for coffee. I don’t know how old that coffee is, but he downs it and is suddenly wide awake.
-Not realizing Prefrosh has been assigned to Droz, Droz opens his closet offering Prefrosh all manner of college contraband.
-Prefrosh explains his reason for being there and Droz lists some sage advice.
Classes, nothing before 11.
Beer, it’s your best friend, drink a lot of it.
Women, you’re a freshman, so it’s out of the question.
Car, someone on your hall will. Make friends with them on the first day.
Those are seriously expert words of advice for a college freshman.
-Droz wants to pass off Prefrosh and we get introduce the sleeveless, 1 man mosh pit, Gutter aka Jon Favreau!
-Best advice in the movie is right here, I’ve quoted it millions of times, to far too many of my friends who I know have seen this movie.
You’re going to wear the shirt of the band you are gonna go see? Don’t be that guy.
-We meet Moles, who set up Prefrosh to stay with Droz as revenge for Droz putting milk bones if Moles luggage on the way back from Jamaica. If you don’t get that stop reading now.
-In the main hall we meet the man in his pajamas watching television, Pigman. He is constantly watching TV because his thesis is the Caine/Hackman theory. The proposition that at any time during the day you can find a Michael Caine or Gene Hackman film on TV.
-Droz tries to leave Prefrosh with Pigman. No dice, Prefrosh wants to see the college and with that Droz takes Prefrosh out of the Pit and into the quad where we meet all the different politically correct cliques.
-As they walk through the quad we meet women (as opposed to girls), someone trying to save the whales, a gay advocate, someone trying to free Nelson Mandela (who had previously been freed) and the Womanysts. The Nelson Mandela guy is the one to focus on, it demonstrates the absurdity of the situation. No one at classes, everyone fighting for their voice to be heard as individuals, no matter the cause. When real protest is about uniting as 1 to bring focus and attention to 1 specific matter. (This is a recurring theme.)
-The Womanysts are of particular interest to Droz whose ex-girlfriend is a member. As he tries to talk to her they form a human wall and call him a cock-man-oppressor.
-As Droz and Prefrosh meet Mole outside the cafeteria, we find the causeheads, the largest and most organized group of protesters on campus, led by a girl after my own heart, a sleeveless, ginger named Moonbeam!
Moonbeam: What don’t we eat?
Crowd: Red meat!
Moonbeam: Why don’t we eat it?
Crowd: Its murder!
-So what do Droz, Moles and Prefrosh do? They break into the cafeteria take trays of ground beef, meatballs, various cuts of steak and from the second floor throw it down upon the peaceful vegan protest . Classic.
-Super quotable line that I still use to this day.
Moles: Now what?
Droz: Now we run.
-Droz and Moles get away unscathed, but as Prefrosh is running out seconds behind them we are introduced to the Afrocentrists and as Moonbeam shouts “Meat-tosser! Stop the Violator” both the causeheads and Afrocentrists start chasing Prefrosh around campus.
-As Moonbeam fills outs a complaint form, we meet President Garcia-Thompson aka the mom on Arrested Development! Moonbeam tells President Garcia-Thompson about some preppy person in her office.
-That preppy person is Rand McPherson aka David Spade! Rand is the white Republican scheming with President Garcia-Thompson to get his fraternities house back from the miscreants of the Pit.
-Prefrosh has escaped the unruly mob chasing him and finds himself in a computer lab filled with students frantically finishing their thesis. As he is being escorted out of this 1994 computer lab he walks into a plug that connected all the computers to a main hub and so all the papers were lost. This sounds ridiculous in 2014, but please try and remember that in 1994 these were computers with EGA monitors and were barely more than word processors. Flip phones have more technology in them than these computers did.
-Back in the Pit we find Gutter grilling up some of the leftover meat from the meat protest of the vegan protest when President Garcia-Thompson walks in and the band cordially plays “Hail to the Chief”.
-President Garcia-Thompson presents the Pit crew with a 7000 dollar damage bill. This is our inciting incident. The people of the Pit have to raise 7000 dollars or get thrown off campus.
-Droz puts it to the group that they need to resurrect a long lost time honored tradition. In response comes my second most quoted line, “They confiscated the alter Droz.” I obviously change the name to match the actual person I am talking to.
-Droz wasn’t talking about human sacrifice though, he thinks they should host a party.
Gutter is on beer, “Kegs multiple, cold and domestic.” The as yet named band will play.
-Gutter who was supposed to go see the band of the shirt he was wearing, goes to talk to his ride. They can’t wait to give him a ride, but instead offer him, “just 1 little beamer to brighten his day.” If you don’t know what that is I’m talking about weed.
-Prefrosh runs into a door, is knocked unconscious and is taken into the basement secret house of Ball and Shaft, the underground fraternity run by Spade. This is where we learn that Spade wants the Pit to throw a loud offensive party, so that their complaint count gets so high that President Garcia-Thompson throws them out of the school.
-The possible band names are “Naugahyde Windpipe”, “Oedipus and the Mama’s Boys”, “My Johnson Is 12 Inches Long” and “Everyone Gets Laid”. They go with the horribly offensive and misleading “Everyone Gets Laid”. I made an old school dot-matrix print out banner sign of that name that hung up on my walls for 5 years.
-SPORTS BALL TALK! It the intramural Ultimate Frisbee finals the Womanysts against Jerry Town, the stoners that are Gutter’s friends. The Womanysts are dominating because they aren’t amazingly high. Sidenote: Jake Busey is Mersh the captain of Jerry Town!
-In a flashback to freshman year we find out that Droz and Spade were freshman roommates. The origin stories of these 2 is now complete, its like they are comic book arch nemeses. Also we expected Holloway to go to college and act like Droz in the video below.
-Prefrosh is trying to sneak away from the Spade led Ball and Shaft folks and gets seen by the ever growing mob of students who want to kick his ass. He runs straight across the Ultimate Frisbee field and happens to snag the frisbee and keep running. He is a weasel who snagged the pea. END OF SPORTS BALL TALK!
-Droz is trying to reconnect with that ex girlfriend from earlier and when the party flier is presented to the rest of Womanysts they are heard to shout, “STOP THE PENIS PARTY!” This leads to Moles looking down from the stands with my third most quoted line, “whoo-hoo, he-he”. I use that reflexively its probably in reality my most quoted line, but I haven’t been counting, maybe I should start a spreadsheet.
-Gutter is high as kite. He can’t focus and as such has to keep repeating, get the beer, get the beer. After a quick conversation with an old lady wearing pampers, he sits down, immediately falls asleep and has a dream about being put before a Senate Judiciary committee and asked about his past drug use. To which he responds, “I didn’t exhale?!?”
-He wakes up and realizes he doesn’t have the beer for the party and that he only has minutes before the 8 pm deadline that is strictly enforced by Connecticut blue laws. For those of you who don’t know what blue laws are they were created to help keep the Sabbath sacred. They are all horribly outdated and lack relevancy in today’s world. He doesn’t make it
-The board of trustees approaches President Garcia-Thompson and tells her that they are very worried about the Bicentennial celebration that will be held the following day. She responds that there is nothing to worry about and that she plans to unite the students behind the changing of the mascot from the Port Chester Indian to the Port Chester Whooping Crane. I lived through a mascot change in college, from the Mohawk to the Trailblazer. It in no way united the campus, not even in vitriol, which surprised me. I tried to unite an anarchic movement about it all and no one followed my lead. The closest I got to any real action was mooning a live camera shot of a reporter talking about the change.
-The party is set, in only one sense, that it is time for the party to start. The band blows a fuse again and no one goes to fix it so Pigman stands up to go do it. Pigman immediately falls over screaming PINS AND NEEDLES! We used to fall down in the middle of the halls in high school screaming PINS AND NEEDLES! We are easily amused.
-Prefrosh, hidden under a staircase, overhears the board of trustees talking about how they want to get rid of President Garcia-Thompson. I only mention this because its important later.
-Droz and Moles show up to find no guests and no beer.
-As 24 Womanysts are banging bongo’s on the front lawn Droz has a great speech that culminates with “PLEASE HAVE A PARTY, FEED US DRINKS, GET US LAID!” It still gives me goosebumps everytime.
-Droz is going to save this party and save their house and save their college careers. Droz is going to handle the alcohol, Moles is going to do a radio spot, Cecilia is on bongos and Katie is a freshman, she has to find 2000 people.
-Spade shows President Garcia-Thompson the flyer. It is a pre photoshop world folks so they had to make a collage, one of Spade’s lackey’s make a great little speech about collage work. If you were born after 1994 you won’t get it at all.
-Gutter is sitting on the side of the road doing when a bus pulls up and asks for directions and then all the sudden its GEORGE MOTHER FUCKING CLINTON!
-Droz steals Spade’s car and finds the old school “Club” security device still in the package and many horrible CDs.
-Mole’s radio spot climaxes with “TONIGHT 10PM AT THE PIT EVERYONE GETS LAID!” How awesomely misleading is that!
-Katie, she of the earlier gratuitous jorts ass shot, finds Prefrosh getting ready to board a bus home. She explains the situation with the Pit and in a dramatic reveal he DOES NOT get on the bus and instead says, “You need people, right?”
-Droz has shown up at the Bicentennial Ball and plans to steal the liquor and move it to the Pit party. He accomplishes this by distracting the bartender, 1 of Spade’s minions, while 2 of Droz’s minions put the bar up on skateboards. On his way out the door he takes one of the awful CDs he found in the car and puts it on track 99 repeat, full volume and locks the stereo cabinet. Then as he exits the room he uses “the club” car safety device to lock the guests in the room. The guests inside include President Garcia-Thompson and Spade.
-What is song 99 for the Starland Vocal Band you ask? How about we let Matt Damon refresh your memory.
-Gutter has hitched a ride back to the Pit with GEORGE MOTHER FUCKING CLINTON. After Clinton uses the bathroom Droz asks him to play their party. Clinton agrees because HE WOULDN’T BE IN THE MOVIE IF HE SAID NO!
-SKYROCKETS IN FLIGHT, AFTERNOON DELIGHT! They can’t get out of the room still or turn off the music.
-Prefrosh and Katie end up leading the angry mob to the Pit. Droz instructs Moles to take Prefrosh downstairs and beat the shit out of him. Droz then tells everyone that Clinton is playing and that the party is going to be good. With great skepticism many of them line up and go inside the party.
-Gutter, being Clinton’s boy, is introducing the band as Moles mouths the words to him. Favreau is so good at being dumb. I mean that as a compliment. I mean look at this great work as Happy in Iron Man 3!
-George Clinton always has funky outfits (pun intended), but the one he is wearing here is like an awesome funky Jedi Robe I would buy and wear in public regularly. After I cut off the sleeves because fuck sleeves.
-Genius move charging 2 dollars to stand in the bathroom and 4 dollars to sit. If only they had a kid on a BMX chasing someone around shouting, “I WANT MY 2 DOLLARS!” Or some kids from a band named Better off Dead paying homage to the film. Oh, that’s the video below and yes that is me screaming in 1998.
-SKY ROCKETS IN FLIGHT, AFTERNOON DELIGHT! They finally bust of the room onto the balcony and down the trellis, Spade looking up President Garcia-Thompson’s dress the whole time, he likes Granny porn apparently. I think thats a sign of an oedipal complex and that Freud would have a field day with him.
-Moles announces to the Pit folk that they have indeed raised the damage bill amount, with $100 to spare.
-Pigman, still watching TV even with the party going on and people fornicating practically on top of him, is quoted as saying, “A Bridge Too Far, Caine and Hackman in the same movie! This is my thesis! I CAN STOP WATCHING TV!” He then proceeds to crowd surf in with what I think the greatest crowd surfing form in history.
-Gutter climbs to the top of the speaker to do a stage dive. He jumps just as President Garcia-Thompson breaks up the party and so no one catches him. Clinton caps off the end of the party by telling President Garcia-Thompson “Funk you very much!”
-Spade sees the Pit people on the lawn and explains to Droz and company how he set them up to create their own failure. Very Machiavellian of Spade. Spade wins. Movie over right? Of course not, Spade’s the bad guy, the bad guy doesn’t win in 1 of my favorite movies of all time! Wait Darth Vader wins in Empire Strikes Back and the Emperor wins in Attack of the Clones AND Revenge of the Sith. Those being my 3 favorite Star Wars movies, I stand corrected. Maybe Spade will win!
-Prefrosh explains to Droz how he overhead the trustees wanting to get rid of President Garcia-Thompson if she screws something up really big. You can see Droz start concocting a plan as we cut to the next day at the Bicentennial celebration.
-President Garcia-Thompson is addressing the assembled faculty, student body and alumni. They shoot this really well because its obvious that don’t have enough people to properly demonstrate the crowd that would really show up for an event of this magnitude. But they make it LOOK like they do.
-As President Garcia-Thompson is speaking about the changing of the mascot and introducing the whooping crane, a real live caged whooping crane is wheeled onto the stage by 2 college workers. As President Garcia-Thompson talks about how safe Port Chester will be for this endangered species, the workers shew the bird out of its cage and its starts freely roaming the stage. President Garcia Thompson goes after it, the workers take off their uniforms to reveal Droz and Gutter!
-Droz takes the mic and within this speech we really get to see how smart a satire this movie is. The shame being that in 1994 wit, sarcasm and satire were grossly overlooked when it came to the ideals of political correctness and many just found this movie crass and inappropriate. Just like when great satires like Through the Looking Glass, Gulliver’s Travels, Monty Python’s Life of Brian, and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn were released people didn’t generally “get” it. They were living in a world that at the time was understood to be a certain way and only in reflection on that time and place could people come to appreciate how these authors were holding a mirror up to society and saying, “aren’t we all being foolish?”. I love satire if that hasn’t come across.
Last night, my house threw a party and I thought that we all finally got along. We had a good time. But we got so many protests, we broke so many rules that we got booted off campus. You know, it used to be the administration’s job to make rules. It used to be us against them. Now it’s us against us. I’ve been here seven years and I gotta tell you guys what’s going on here is about America. It’s about democracy. It’s about the Bill of Rights, basic cable, call-waiting, free trips to the salad bar. It’s about everything that makes this country great. Our country! We can do something about this. We can finally say that when some people are having a good time and drinking some beers, throwing some meat that we’re not gonna protest. In fact, I promised myself I wouldn’t do this. I’m sorry. If we could just say that, if only to each other just this one time that we’re not gonna protest. That we’re not gonna protest? We’re not gonna protest!
Read that carefully. It’s right. College protest experiences used to be about uniting against “the man” be it the college administration, or the government and as the causes became less about what directly affected the student’s (read no more military draft) the care became about whatever “cause” you felt would get you the most attention. It was selfish protesting. Early in the movie we hear about saving the whales. What whaling company gives 2 shits about a group on a small college campus in central Connecticut protesting their actions? NONE! It wasn’t about the cause, it was about separating themselves from the group and taking on a topic no one else was and thus standing out from the crowd. Everyone wanted the spotlight. They could care less about the cause and simply repeated the platitudes they heard on the news. The goal wasn’t the cause, the goal was to be seen supporting something greater than themselves. THAT is what Droz is talking about. THAT is what “we’re not gonna protest” is all about. Its the boy who cried wolf syndrome. If you always cry wolf (or protest) when you really need help because there really IS a wolf (or take a stand against a real injustice) no one is paying attention.
-The crowd begins the first all campus united protest chanting “we’re not gonna protest”. The trustees fire President Garcia-Thompson. Droz still leading the chant first aims the mic at the sign language lady, very funny and then chants “we’re not gonna protest” echoed, “Gutter is a tool” echoed “we’re not gonna protest” echoed as Gutter gives the look Favreau has since become famous for.
-Spade gets thrown up on stage and confronts Droz. He makes a grand speech where he insults every group on campus. He doesn’t realize though that Droz is still holding the mic and the entire campus can hear his slurs. At the end Droz says “Rand McPherson everyone, enjoy the meal” and does what I think might be the first mic drop in history. Perfect.
-The epilogue is Prefrosh becoming an honorary member of the Pit just before he gets on the bus and promises to come back in the fall.
-As Prefrosh is riding off in the bus we see Spade being chased by the entire campus to the sounds of Elvis Costello’s “Pump it Up” a great tune and perfect way to end the movie.