Described as an "Animal House" for the '90s, "PCU" certainly strives to be just that. The story revolves around a filthy dorm called "The Pit," at fictional Port Chester University, which is being threatened with closure by the stiff, unfeeling dean (Jessica Walter). So, "The Pit's" unruly residents throw a party, hoping to raise enough money to save it.
In terms of plot, that's about it. Mainly, the episodic script relies on a plentiful supply of gags - albeit soft gags - about political correctness, delivered by a variety of goofy characters, including "Womynists," a militant "feminists" knockoff whose leader is named Moonbeam; a pair of Wayne and Garth (or is it Bill and Ted?) clones named Dave No. 1 and Dave No. 2; Mersh, a throwback to the pot-smoking, radical '60s; Pigman, a couch potato whose thesis is devoted to proving that at any given moment, anywhere in the world, a Gene Hackman or Michael Caine movie can be found on television; and a neighboring dorm loaded with paranoid, straight-laced nerds, led by prissy David Spade, of TV's "Saturday Night Live."
The emphasis is on Droz (Jeremy Piven, of "Judgment Night"), a seven-year veteran of the university, who is assigned to escort prospective frosh Tom (Chris Young) around the campus. Piven's rapid-fire delivery of lines that are designed to poke holes in sensitive subjects provides a genuine highlight, and Young is good as the innocent young man who pulls so many blunders that he eventually has half the student body chasing him around the grounds.
Despite a few chuckles - nearly all of which can be seen in the trailer (theatrical preview), by the way - "PCU" has more energy than wit.
First-time director Hart Bochner, best known as an actor (he was the arrogant, drug-snorting executive in "Die Hard"), keeps things moving and has a comic visual sense. But the screenplay, by Adam Leff and Zak Penn, is based too much on other movies and recycled jokes. So, it's no surprise to learn that these are the guys who also gave us "Last Action Hero."
The emphasis in "PCU" is clearly on tastelessness, but the film seems rather timid toward every subject it pursues, stopping short of delivering the goods.
And is it really necessary to have Spade's character be a racist as well as a self-absorbed, wealthy jerk? That aspect adds an unexpected ugliness to the proceedings.
"PCU" is rated PG-13 for profanity, vulgarity, sex, nudity and marijuana smoking.
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