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Review: PCU (1994)

PCU (1994)

Directed by: Hart Bochner

Premise: A straight-laced high school senior (Chris Young) visits a college campus and is chaperoned by Droz, the campus party animal (Jeremy Piven). The campus is a den of political correctness where students protest and thwart each other while an overzealous university president (Jessica Walter) moves to overtake the campus with a P.C. agenda. In response, Droz and his friends plan to throw a party to celebrate non-P.C. attitudes. 

What Works: PCU is a good satire and an above average college film. A flaw of many college films is that, rather than drawing on the oddities and idiosyncrasies of the actual college experience, the higher education experience is often portrayed more like a big high school. What PCU does tremendously is to satirize the contemporary college campus. It exposes the hypocrisy of the political correctness movement, which was at its height in the mid-1990s when PCU was released, but enough of the satire is still very relevant today. The picture takes a view on its subject that is subversive in a very interesting way. PCU suggests that the politics of higher education, namely diversity appreciation and cultural sensitivity, have actually served administrators seeking to quell unrest or dissent on college campuses, and framed the debate in such a way that the students censor and oppress each other. In an anarchic sort of way, PCU gives a solution in embracing debauchery. This message is played for both laughs and serious jabs, much like the humor displayed on The Daily Show.

What Doesn’t: The first and third acts of PCU are very strong, but the middle act does lag in places. The film uses a lot of conventional college film components. There is a lot of requisite drug humor that isn’t as funny as it should be (like individuals under the influence, drug humor is rarely as funny as it thinks it is) and even for the kind of comedy it is, PCU film has fairly thin characters.

DVD extras: Commentary tracks, featurette, music video, trailer.

Bottom Line: PCU is an uneven film but it is fun and smart. Those who are or were active in college campus activities will probably find something familiar and true in PCU’s satire. It may not be the classic Animal House is, and Van Wilder has more interesting characters, but PCU’s wit makes it worth the time.

Episode: #154 (August 26, 2007)