Retro Face Off: Porky's vs. American Graffiti
Both Porky's and American Graffiti depict a day in the life of a group of teenagers growing up in semi-small town America during the 1950s. Both have essentially no plot other than following around these teens and observing their antics and interpersonal conflicts.
American Graffiti is heralded as a classic, and boosted the careers of Harrison Ford, Cindy Williams, Suzanne Somers, Richard Dreyfus, McKenzie Phillips and Ron Howard - not to mention director George Lucas. It currently has a 7.6 IMDb rating. In stark contrast, Porky's is considered juvenile crap and didn't spawn a single career other than Kim Cattrall. It gets a paltry 5.8 on IMDb.
So the Face Off has already been won on IMDb with American Graffiti emerging as the victor by a wide margin. But, here's my two cents: I think Porky's is the better movie. Yeah, that's right. Porky's is better. Here's why.
I honestly think the acting in Porky's is better than in American Graffiti. This sounds blasphemous, but, c'mon, Ron Howard, Cindy Williams and McKenzie Phillips aren't exactly great actors. Sure, Richard Dreyfus gives a good performance, but that's about it. Go back and watch Porky's with an open mind - you'll see there's some decent acting going on.
There's a racial issue played out in Porky's between the new Jewish kid, Brian, and the abused bully, Tim. The conflict actually doesn't seem forced or preachy. The way the gang stands behind their friend, Tim, even though they know he's in the wrong seems so realistic. American Graffiti never makes an attempt at anything too controversial - it's too busy basking in its own "1950s-ness".
The soundtrack to Porky's is a little more original, a little less "obvious" than American Graffiti's. Graffiti's track list seems like a Time-Life collection of The Greatest Hits from 1953; whereas, the Porky's selection seems to have more thought put into it. In other words, with Graffiti you get 1950s no-brainers like "At the Hop" and "Louie, Louie" (yawn). With Porky's you get "Lovesick Blues" and "Ebb Tide".
The fact of the matter is, Porky's is often just too crass and tasteless to ever dream of garnering critical praise. The infamous shower scene alone guaranteed this film wouldn't receive praise from a single critic. But, in my mind, it's no more crass and tasteless than real teenagers. This wasn't comical camp like that in Screwballs or Hardbodies; this was pretty realistic teenage stupidity.
And lastly, I'll say this: Show Porky's to a group of your friends and co-workers, and I'll guarantee they'll laugh their asses off and be entertained from beginning to end. Whereas, I'm not so sure the same can be said about American Graffiti. Movie critics may give it a "standing O", but I'm thinking average schmoes will probably just yawn. IMHO American Graffiti is just a 110 minute Happy Days episode.
What say you? Am I way off base here? Which movie should win the Face Off in your humble opinion? I'd be curious to hear your opinions.