Free Your Mind, and the Fun Will Follow: PCU Says "All You Need is Funk"
Apr 30, 2003
Pros: funny if you go to a liberal arts college, little details, good message
Cons: esoteric, caricatures, weak plot
The Bottom Line: I'm boycotting the misogynistic, socially-constructed bottom line. Will you sign my petition?
If you currently attend a liberal arts college or went to one in the past ten years, many of the themes and images in PCU (1994) may ring true. You might think, Hey, that reminds me of my school. Well, PCU was actually based on my college, Wesleyan University. In the opening sequence there are shots of our library, a dorm, a fraternity house, and college row, which includes academic and administrative buildings.
Ive seen PCU a few times, but, most recently, I watched it in a large lecture hall in our science center during pre-frosh weekend, which is apt because thats when this movie is supposed to take place. Everyone hooted and hollered when the familiar edifices were shown and then settled down to watch the rest of the movie, which was shot (of course!) at several locations in Toronto including University of Toronto and Ryerson Polytech.
Like The Real Cancun, I suggest you watch this one drunk or well (ahem) its kind of a stoner movie.
The plot of PCU is fairly weak, and I know that I think this movie is hilarious only because so much of it is an accurate (if satiric) portrayal of life at my university. Also, a few of the references are a bit outdated such as Bill Clintons notorious, I didnt inhale.
PCU stands for Port Chester University and also Politically Correct University. Tom Lawrence (Chris Young) has been admitted to PCU, and the admissions office has assigned him to stay with James Droz Andrews (Jeremy Piven), a super-senior who lives in the Pit. Based on Wesleyans co-ed society called Eclectic, the Pit used to be a fraternity, but frats were banned in the '60s at PCU. Expecting a society full of young Republicans, preppy Tom is shocked to discover women and men living together in a grunge paradise. He knocks on Drozs door and finds his host asleep with a cigarette in his mouth. Jeremy Piven is lovable in this role which is the antithesis of the one he would play nine years later in Old School as the strict dean.
In PCU, Droz and his Pit-mates manage to alienate themselves from the entire campus. Like Wesleyan, PCU has many factions of extremely sensitive students and quite a few stoners, as well. When Droz says hes going to the game, hes referring to the ultimate Frisbee match between the tie-dye wearing Jerry Town and the man-hating Womynists. (Women is spelled with a y so that it doesnt have the word men in it.)
As Tom walks around campus, he is bombarded by student groups campaigning for one cause or another.
Save the Whales! one yells. Free Nelson Mandela! shouts someone else, before being reminded that he was already freed.
The activists change their focus every couple of weeks, but during, Toms visit, it is animal rights. The leader of the campaign, a perky girl named Moonbeam, shouts into a megaphone, someone plays a folk song on the guitar, and students attempt to block entrance to the Campus Center where meat is being served. Droz and his fellow trouble-makers drag Tom inside to throw meat out the windows at the protestors, the first of many things Tom does to anger the campus. This aspect of the plot gets a bit tiresome, as I felt sorry for Tom, who is constantly running from an angry mob. His character is very bland and spends most of the movie with an open-mouthed expression.
The villains in PCU are President Garcia-Thompson (Jessica Walter) and Rand McPherson (David Spade) the president of the underground fraternity on campus. Rand and the university president are united by their common hatred of the Pit and their desire to shut it down. One thing that Ive never understood about PCU is that President Garcia-Thompsons politics are unclear. She dresses like Libby Dole, but, at one point, she declares, Yes, Bi-Sexual Asian Studies should have its own building, while schmoozing at a cocktail party.
In PCU the humor is in the details. For instance, the Womynists protest a pit party by chanting, Hey Hey! Ho Ho! This penis partys got to go! and singing Kumbaya while holding candles. Also, the characters lament Connecticuts Puritanical Blue Laws that force liquor stores to close at 8PM. Gutter (Jon Favreau) is supposed to pick up beer for the Pits all-campus party, but he falls asleep after taking a massive bong hit, and, when he wakes up, the liquor stores are closed.
Another of my favorite scenes is when Droz is talking to Gutter about a concert that Gutter is going to in Hartford with the opening band Frog and Toad are Friends. Gutter is wearing a t-shirt of the headlining band, and Droz pats him on the shoulder and says, Dont be that guy. Yes, PCU is a very quotable movie. I cant tell you how many times my friends and I have chanted, Were not gonna protest! Were not gonna protest! when we see the demonstrations that occur almost daily outside our campus center.
Even if you hate the rest of the movie, which is entirely possible, you cant help but enjoy George Clintons rendition of Erotic City.
Although this rarely happens for me, I agree with the message of PCU which is that people really ought to lighten up and have fun for a change. Especially those crazy Womynists. If everyone gets laid, it can cure an entire campuss problems.