PCU viewing

It’s one of my favorite movies, a film that defined my college life before I exactly started college. The characters of Droz, Gut, Moles, and the rest are real college friends to me, and I always enjoy returning to PCU for a taste of those golden days of yore (okay, so I’m getting too sappy, sorry, you can always read my pitifully small review instead) (quick tip: if you see a Justin review that’s only a paragraph long, chances are it was written in the first year of MRFH’s conception)


    Two quick comments on the opening scene: the sky is overcast, and the music rocks in an offbeat way.


    Welcome to the mythical Connecticut town of Port Chester, population 16,000.


    • When Sarah Trigger’s name comes up, look at the window. I


    we’re supposed to be looking through Tom’s drool splotch. Maybe I’m just way over-analyzing, and I’m not even through the first minute yet.


    • The infamous Port Chester University crest (founded in 1794, btw) with the Latin words that No Two People Translate The Same. It’s a strange phenomenon, but plenty of people have written me with their own translations, and no two are alike. If you want to give it a hack, the Latin motto is: SIC (or possibly SIG) MENTEM PROBA DI RECTAMUS. My personal translation is something about probing a rectum, but that’s just me.


    Tom’s worse than a dog with this drooling thing! Look at that window!


    “Dear Pre Freshman, Your Weekend Host Will Be James Andrews, 145 S. High Street” Poor Tom, he just doesn’t know what he’s about to get himself into here.


    This is about the biggest sign you’re in MovieLand: The Pit’s house is a gorgeous mansion, covered with ivy and a huge circle driveway. No way a college would give that to a frat!


    I think Tom pressing his face against the window says a lot about the overeagerness of his character. And then he just lets himself in…


    The progression of the house pictures gives us a great back history of the Pit without having to spell it out for us. Notice the 1969 frame (when fraternities were banned), the 1985 (when The Pit is given its name), 1991 (which has Gutter, Moles, Droz giving bunny ears to Pigman, Cil, and one of the Daves), and the 1993 Polaroid (which has Pigman in a bandana, and maybe Daves, Cil, and Moles). Geez, I’m a nerd.


    A quick word about Neo-Gothic architecture, which is what the Pit has (and my college as well). There’s a lot of arches, cement walls, and fake wood paneling. Looks like a pseudo-monestary. Should I shut up now?


    Tom getting interrupted in mid-conversation “Heads up!” by a flying ash tray crashing into beer bottles is college, summarized in a moment. Check out his face!


    I probably shouldn’t be noting every little thing that amuses me about this movie, but the Daves wrestling around and Pigman ignoring them is a great classic mini-scene. Pure college.


    Gratuitous butt-shot, courtesy of Ms. Megan Ward the freshperson. She harumphs him, but notice how she also gives that half-smile. Love is in the air…


    For those of you who assume this basement hallway set is a figment of the filmmakers’ imagination, then you’ve never really been to a large university. By the end of each semester, the walls are blanketed with flyers, ads, ride board notices, and all sorts of paraphenalia that nobody bothers to read. The shopping cart is there to haul it away.


    Tom’s introduction to Droz is the closest this film has to a horror element. The music, the sets, the suspense… and then the HAND!


    While Droz is shouting “Coffee! Coffee Now!” his cigarette falls into his mouth.


    Droz has a pretty cool dorm room, complete with the overcrowded decorating effect that just makes it collegate. Notice the huge sign, the coffee maker, the bowl of cigarette butts, the corner sink, and the Magic Closet.


    It took me multiple viewings to realize that Droz says “I’ve been pimped by admissions.” Droz’ “advice speech” is the most quotable part of the movie, because it’s all true. Well, the car thing, definitely. I did have a girlfriend as a freshman. I hate beer. One year I managed to take all afternoon classes solely to let me sleep in. It’s the life.


    Gutter is an interesting character: dumb, gapes a lot, a music major who doesn’t know music, and a bit gross as well. Yet he’s always a crowd favorite. It’s so cool how Droz snags the cigarette (which is later taken by Mulaney). The small jokes in this movie are the enduring aspects, let me tell you.


    Well, maybe the “Don’t be that guy” line is the most quotable. I don’t know, I’m just a fragile movie reviewer. But this line (ad-libbed by Piven) is so true it remains in my vocabulary to this day.


    I suppose that Pigman is the other enigma of PCU. After all, he doesn’t do much for the entire film: he sits on a couch (leaving it only twice) and has just a couple of lines. Yet this pajama-clad movie freak (gee, who does that sound like?) is a much beloved figure by fans. I think I like him because he plays along with the whole theme of college. PCU doesn’t feel set up, as if all the characters were brought in just for the two days this movie takes place over. With Pigman’s weird thesis quest, Droz’ story about spring break, Pres. Thompson’s list of the Pit’s atrocities, and other alluded to events, I get the feel that any day on this campus up to this point would’ve made a fine movie or TV episode.


    The face Droz makes when he says “Really.” is probably Piven’s best facial expression during the film. It suggests exaggerated feigned interest, and makes him look a bit spooky to boot.


    “Those aren’t women, Tom. Those are womynists.” This introduction to the best (in my opinion) PC group on campus always seems to be the point where my friends got hooked on this movie as well. It’s dramatic, it’s funny, and it’s so painfully real. I just kept expecting to see armpit hair.


    The phallis line just wouldn’t have worked without the finger gesture. Sam really looks pretty in this scene, btw.


    It’s a congested crowd scene, but Droz and the gang dancing through the protest is priceless. Fight them by mocking them, I say.


    The guitar player is another slice of college pie. For the uninformed, about 60% of college students fancy themselves amateur guitarists, and feel free to go wandering about campus strumming weird little tunes. I called them the Bards. No, you’d NEVER see a tuba or flute player going around, but for some reason, the guitars are popular (the instrument of the lazy people). Every time I see this guy singing his little song, I always sing along with the scene. “I was standin’… by my window…”


    The Meat Tossing Incident of ’94. It’s so great, because that’s exactly how sane people would react to the insanity forced upon them. Or something. But there’s just no other movie that would show a hundred pounds of meat being spewed out a window onto the crowd below.


    Weird little fact #542: look up above the arch as the Cause-Heads are running in. There’s a sign that says “Make Love Not Meatloaf”. That’s now my personal slogan.


    Quick note about the Daves: although they are never specifically introduced, both of these guys are named Dave (as witness when they leave the cafeteria and call for each other) and are never seen apart from each other for the entire film. Their favorite phrase (uttered twice, I think) is “Let’s give up”.


    If anything’s ever criticized about PCU, it’s usually that Tom’s extended chase scenes were boring and contrived. I agree to an extent: they do seem a little forced (after all, what college group would actually spend most of a day chasing a single person?), but they do get us around to meeting some of the other PC groups and setting the film up for the ending.


    Moonbeam’s complaint form (who other than me pauses to read these things) mentions that it is May 6, 1994. Look under point two, where it says “I was…” and the third choice is “Scarred for my life”.


    As Thompson is saying “you disgust me”, Rand’s eyes do the down-and-up body check that guys are famous for. Rand is played by the ever-sarcastic and hilarious David Spade (Tommy Boy and TV’s “Just Shoot Me”). He’s good in the role, but not given the full reign to let his sarcasm run wild.


    Hee hee, Daves go boom when Cil gets up.


    Gutter cooking steaks inside the Pit strikes me fun — I never did that! Although I once (and this is a true story) set an entire bathroom on fire with lighter fluid.


    I just love the “Hail to the Chief” tune the band rips off. That should’ve been on the soundtrack.


    You can see how much Droz despises the authority by blowing off Thompson’s request to put the cigarette out. I also think it stems a bit deeper than that: although the country’s attitude is largely anti-smoking, college will always have one of the most fervent smoking communities. That’s reflected in PCU, as Droz, Gutter, Deeje, and Moles all smoke.


    Poor Gutter, he just isn’t up to the reflexive repartee here.


    • This blonde stoned-out hippie is none other than Gary Busey’s son, Jake. You might have also see him in movies like

Starship Troopers



    This whole scene with Jerrytown is strange, no doubt about it, but also a bit boring. Sure, there’s a couple of good lines, but I think Jerrytown really shines at the frisbee game.


    “Look at the stitching! It’s got to be L.L. Bean!” Anybody who’s been to college long enough knows that clothing catalogue companies L.L. Bean and J. Crew dominate the wardrobe scene on campus. Those stupid little preppie backpacks with initials embroidered (shudder)… I resisted the weak urge to ever delve into this world of fashion.


    The password interchange between overexcited BD and annoyed Rand is truly priceless. Look at BD’s eyes through the peephole. “A casual shoe for yachting”??? The Republican preppie-dom is more frightening than any other PC group, in my opinion. I had people (naive Republican drones) HATE me avidly at college because I refused to vote. As I head recently, “I don’t believe in Republican parties, I don’t believe in Democratic parties, I just believe in parties!”


    As Rodge says “My Johnson Is 12 Inches Long”, look at Katie’s eyes. Great look, there.


    The Seniors desert the party effort, probably for good reason. After all, Droz and Moles are leaving PCU in a few weeks, anyway.


    Big Laugh as the Daves try to jump the stairs and fall. You just gotta love them, they’re so eager.


    I’ve had numerous requests to help locate a full-body pajama suit like the one the hippie is wearing. I DON’T KNOW, OKAY? Get a pair of long johns and tye-dye it yourself! On a side note, the womynist clotheslining the hippie is pretty choice.


    Droz’ flashback tells us a few things. First off, he’s probably most responsible for the antagonism between him and Rand (but Rand’s such a nerd, so how can you blame him?). I love how this dorm room is divided in half. The main problem here is what I call the Droz Timeline Crisis (geez, I’m SUCH a nerd). Droz states later in the movie that he had a third sophomore year, so he’s been at PCU for (at minimum) 6 years. But Moles refers to Rand as Droz’ “old freshman roommate”. So either Rand’s been at college 6 years as well, or Rand (the freshman) roomed with Droz during his third sophomore year.


    As Droz is slobbering all over Rand and Rand is whining “Stay on your side of the room!”, I can’t help but chuckle. Once or twice.


    The Tom chase hits its peak as Tom launches across the frisbee field, snags the bee, and is followed by at least 3 PC groups.


    Great shot of Balls and Shaft marching by, and Droz giving them the Nazi salute.


    Moles rooting Droz’ failure is a great little moment.


    Stoned + A Mission From God For Beer + An Old Lady = Gutter’s Worst Nightmare


    The C-SPAM scene is one fraught with mysterious subtext. Is Gutter going to be a senator? Who would name a woman “Edie”?


    The bug-eyed look the trustees give Thompson as she announces the new mascot is worthy of any Windows wallpaper.


    This is a cool effect: seeing the store manager’s face reflected in the window as Gutter is standing outside. Connecticut must be a horrible place to live, eh?


    The townies that spot Tom aren’t a PC group, exactly, but they are pretty essential to most town-colleges. Townies and college students are naturally antagonistic toward each other (I refer you back to the statement Moles made about “fights with Townies”). It’s a way of life.


    Pigman (watching the news for some reason) utters one of his few lines, the “pins and needles” scream. I always wonder what his character would be like away from the TV (which only happens in three short places in this film). The Pigman conundrum: who is the man titled Pig, and why? I also like his stagger offstage here; I’m usually watching the Daves at this point, so I think this is the first time I actually looked at Pigman here.


    • I can’t help but think that Rodge turning his guitar volume all the way up isn’t some sort of homage to

Back to the Future



    Rodge and Deeje, DOA. Another great moment as their bodies sail through the air.


    As Droz and Moles enter the Pit, watch Katie spinning around in her chair. You can’t just act that sort of boredom anymore.


    I have memorized Droz’ speech here, complete with hand and facial gestures. What makes it even greater is his audience: the Pit members who just stare at him bored, and the Womynists in the background chanting “Stop the penis party!” I think we need to have less people protesting the slaughter of whales and Democrats, and more people protesting penis parties. We might just make a difference.


    Here’s the only arial overview of PCU in the form of a map (since PCU was filmed at different locations, no one actual college campus is what you see in the movie). Droz points out the freshman dorms, the faculty club, and the bicentennial ball.


    There are two great transitions in PCU that I always enjoy. One was back at the cafeteria, when Droz opens the meat locker and it wipes fast to seem like he’s opening the window. The other one is right here, where Katie has just been told she needs to find 2,000 people. You hear Rand’s voice say “Hey!” and she looks over at the same time, melding the two scenes together. Subtle, yet cool.


    BD is so dumb, he’s classic. Every thick-necked jock who speaks in grunts that I’ve ever met.


    Moles goes to the WPCU radio station to give the party announcement. Originally, the script called for a lot more WPCU scenes with the DJ to be shot. I say with just a bit of pride that I was a college DJ for four and a half years at WGCC. It’s fun in a box.


    The CD that Droz keeps and ends up using at the party is the Starland Vocal Band. This band was NOT on the PCU soundtrack.


    I know it’s just a movie, but no foreign exchange student would be wearing the Epcot version clothes of their native country. In other topics, I suppose it’s a bit suspicious why Tom has this massive loyalty to the Pit at this point. Sure, Droz was sort of nice to him, but because of them, Tom’s been on the run all day. Yet he seems devastated by the news of the Pit losing their house.


    The POV shot above the tray going around the room is a neat camera technique. I like how Droz denies everyone food as he’s going about.


    The interchange between Droz and BD about the tie was a favorite of my friend Bob and I. People would often hear us chattering back and forth: “What are those, those little snails?” “They’re JOCKEYS!” Droz also gets away with slapping BD three times before BD catches on, the smart guy.


    Locking the old fogeys in… Droz has, as my friends would say, cajones.


    Watching Cil infiltrate the Womynists is pretty cheeky. Bongos. Must remember that.


    Is there any greater sight than a wrecked BMW towing a full bar behind it? If there is, I don’t want to know about it.


    The Daves make little car driving noises as they roll the kegs down the hall. Just an observation.


    I know my penchant for obscure trivia in PCU is quite apparent to you by now, but I’m just having fun. BTW, the male/female sign on the bathroom door has smiley faces drawn on.


    In perhaps a reference to Droz’ earlier statement about “Don’t be that guy”, George Clinton is wearing a shirt OF HIS OWN BAND!


    Droz’ obscure statement “Chuck, porterhouse, ribeye” is another subtle way for him to mock these beefy jocks.


    The clock above Cil’s head reads 12:45, which is probably not true. Or maybe it is. But remember, “10pm at the Pit, everyone gets laid”, so it can’t be too much past 10.


    Shower scene…


    Kinda interesting how all the furniture is now piled up in the corner of the room. And I do like the idea of panning past the window where Tom and Katie are motioning frantically.


    Ignore Droz in this scene and listen to Moles and Tom as they pretend to be having a brutal beating.


    Nobody likes Phys-Ed majors. Fake major, I say!


    The guy Cil stops before going in the bathroom in PCU writer Zak Penn (who is also wearing a fancy PCU cap). I like how a random guy sneaks in while Cil is distracted.


    My friend Emily always gets a kick out of the Womynist who pulls her shirt to expose her shoulder after the Womynist/Jock confrontation.


    This would make an great twisted commercial: Naked Guy. Excellent Butt.


    The Tom/Katie kiss is pretty sweet. Love the blue lighting, anyway.


    Great unspoken comedy: Pigman, still watching TV, sandwiched between to couples making out.


    Or even better is Pigman surfing the crowd. The guy just cracks me up.


    Watch Gutter in the background taking a bellyflop to the floor as the party halts.


    Maybe I’m getting too Pigman-happy, but it always seemed strange to me that after the party, you never see him until the end of the film. So I’m looking carefully… and he walks up behind Moles as the group is talking on the grass. But he’s nowhere to be scene in the ceremony protest, although every other member of the Pit is there.


    I learned a lot about sign language from the translater in this film. Like how to do “butt pirate”.


    As the whooping crane escapes, you can hear someone go, “Hey, I hear those taste like chicken!”


    Look at Sam’s face as she’s about the only one who realizes what Droz is doing.


    Moles, doing his part, is grabbing some muchies. Notice that the whooping crane is pooping on the cake.


    “Gutter is a tool!” Droz, jus’ having his fun.


    Droz makes his exit, Rand is screwed. I love the flag bit.


    I knew it, Pigman’s a perv — check out that smile.


    College and the back country are the only two places where you easily find furniture on the lawn.


    The man sitting behind Tom on the bus is director Hart Brochner.

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