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‘PCU’ (PG-13)

By Rita Kempley
Washington Post Staff Writer
April 30, 1994

The rowdiest kids on campus prove they've got plenty of pluck but little imagination in "PCU," a so-so caper in the spirit of "National Lampoon's Animal House." Though 16 years have passed since John Belushi and the Delts bedeviled Dean Wormer, this film's scenario is nearly identical. Here, the incorrigible cutups bunk in a filthy old frat house, the Pit, and delight in pestering Dean Garcia-Thompson (Jessica Walter), high priestess of political correctness.

Dean Garcia-Thompson, like Dean Wormer, is in league with the whitest guys on campus -- a fraternity that wants to evict the Pit dwellers and take over their house. A gang of happy-go-lucky coeds, the Pit people are troubled by their peers' absurd preoccupation with political separatism, and they set out to bring everybody together by throwing a big party that nearly fails when Gutter (Jon Favreau) sucks too much bong and forgets to pick up the beer.

Written by Adam Leff and Zak Penn, both alumni of Wesleyan, the movie was inspired by their experiences at the college, which is known for its hidebound liberalism. Leff and Penn, who were among the many authors of "Last Action Hero," demonstrate a facility for the language of their generation and a gently satiric tone that was lost in the Schwarzenegger fiasco. The film's plot, however, is only an excuse for food fights -- here the Pit crew pelts protesting vegetarians with meat patties. It's funny stuff, but it misses the lingering adolescent rage that propels the best madcap kids' comedies.

Directed by actor Hart Bochner, a frosh behind the camera, "PCU" lacks energy on both sides of the lens. It has an appealing but mostly forgettable cast of newcomers, but is sorely lacking a comic with the physical genius of the late Belushi. Hurling burgers simply cannot compare with impersonating an exploding pimple.

"PCU" is rated PG-13 for profanity and drug use.

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