Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Hart Bochner|
|Produced by||Paul Schiff|
|Written by||Adam Leff
|Music by||Steve Vai|
|Edited by||Nicholas C. Smith|
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox|
|Running time||79 minutes|
PCU is a 1994 American comedy film written by Adam Leff and Zak Penn and directed by Hart Bochner about college life at the fictional Port Chester University, and represents "an exaggerated view of contemporary college life...." The film is based on the experiences of Leff and Penn's experience at the fraternity of Eclectic Society at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut.
The story follows preppy pre-freshman (pre-frosh) Tom Lawrence (Chris Young) at the eponymous PCU (Port Chester University), a college where fraternities have been outlawed and political correctness is rampant on campus. During his visit, an accident-prone Tom manages to make enemies with nearly every group of students. First he was caught by the "cause-heads" (the name given to a group of students who protest on a different cause every week) interrupting their vegan protest at the cafeteria, then he tripped over the power cords of a computer lab and accidentally crashed all the computers, angering all the people working on their thesis papers. Tom spent the majority of his time as a pre-frosh candidate evading the growing mob of students upset with him.
During his visit, Tom also gets in the middle of the war between "The Pit" and "Balls and Shaft", two rival groups. The latter group (officially known as "The Order of Balls and Shaft") is a parody of the Skull and Bones secret society and conservative fraternities in general. Among its members is Rand McPherson (David Spade), who, with the other Balls and Shaft members, want the outlawed Greek system to return. Meanwhile, "The Pit", a unofficial group, runs the former "Balls and Shaft" frat house in a highly disorganized manner. Currently inhabited by seniors Gutter (Jon Favreau) and Mullaney (Alex Désert), mid-year Freshman co-ed Katy (Megan Ward), and led by multi-year senior James "Droz" Andrews (Jeremy Piven), The Pit is a party-centric house that stays out of politically correct protests until it interferes with their activities; their counter-protests and parties are a frequent source of complaint forms. The film is in part about the battle between Droz and Rand (who were once roommates, eventually driven apart by Droz and his hedonism).
Other factions on campus include a commune-style house of pot users called Jerrytown that Gutter often frequents, a radical feminist group known as the Womynists, an Afrocentrist group suspecting the Pit of conspiring against them, and the college president, Ms. Garcia-Thompson (Jessica Walters), who is obsessed with enforcing "sensitivity awareness" and multiculturalism to an extreme. She proposes that Bisexual Asian Studies should have its own building, as well as a plan to change the campus mascot to a Whooping Crane instead of an offensive Native American character during their Bicentennial Anniversary. Garcia-Thompson conspires behind closed doors with Balls and Shaft to get the established residents of The Pit kicked off campus and give Rand control of the house. She provokes the Pit residents with a damage bill from their past semester. Left unpaid, the campus would seize their house, leaving them homeless and unable to continue attendance at PCU without getting jobs.
The Pit responds by throwing a party to raise the funds needed. The Womynists take offense to The Pit's flyers advertising the party, and hold a protest outside as the house residents conspire to steal alcohol and convince students to attend. The party at first appears to be a failure. However, a series of unlikely events results in George Clinton and Parliament-Funkadelic performing at the party. Students begin streaming in (initially to seize Tom for his prior mistakes) and the party successfully raises the funds to keep the house. Garcia-Thompson (after being locked in a room by Droz with the song Afternoon Delight playing on repeat) decided to act based on complaints against The Pit aggregate to that night. She brought in Security to shut down the party and expelled the residents of The Pit in spite of their efforts. Tom then informs Droz about an overheard conversation with the Board of Trustees: the President's politically correct changes are negatively affecting both their past legacy and media publicity.
At the bicentennial ceremony the following morning, Droz and former Pit residents succeed in liberating the Whooping Crane and provoking the other students into an impromptu protest (ironically using the collective chant "We're not gonna protest"). The demonstration established that even with The Pit shut down, the President cannot control the student population at all. This resulted in the Board of Trustees firing her on stage with Rand explosively ranting to Andrews his contempt for every group on campus. He was unaware that Andrews hid the podium microphone and his words were audible to everyone in the audience.
During the coda, Tom heads home having decided to commit to going to PCU as the Pit moved back into their house. As he sits on the bus, he sees Rand, who is now in Tom's position at the beginning of the film: being chased by the students across campus.
Balls & Shaft
The Student Body
Principal photography took place almost entirely in and around Toronto with the University of Toronto serving as Port Chester University. Some limited second unit shots were shot on the Wesleyan campus.
Jeremy Piven complains in the DVD audio commentary that actors were not allowed by the Director to improvise at all. He was able to include some limited improvisation by appealing to the writers directly. Production schedules were challenged when Piven, who is active in anti-malaria charities, contracted malaria on a trip to Guatemala which affected him while filming.
The film received mixed reviews, currently holding a 47% on Rotten Tomatoes. Roger Ebert said the film "begins with a fantastic premise, but immediately loses faith in it." Nonetheless, it has also been ranked among the ten best college movies.
With a budget of $8 million, it grossed $2,129,483 on opening weekend contributing to a final domestic total of $4,330,020.
- "IMDb, PCU". Amazon.com. Retrieved 27 April 2012.
- "PCU (1994)". Box Office Mojo. May 24, 1994. Retrieved April 20, 2011.
- "PCU: Movie Info". Mutantreviewers.com. Retrieved 2011-04-20.
- DVD Director's commentary
- PCU Filming Locations
- Jeremy Piven Bio
- PCU at Rotten Tomatoes
- Ebert, Roger (April 29, 1994). "PCU". RogerEbert.com.
- The GREATEST College Movies (VIDEO). Huffingtonpost.com. Retrieved on October 17, 2011.