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Finger-Lickin’ Facile

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Nobody in college really gets sex. They think about sex, and they talk about sex — oh, the hours you blew sitting in a dorm room chatting up so-and-so, thinking it was gonna lead to something — and sometimes they do, indeed, have sex. Sadly, however, most co-eds only experience sloppy, clumsy, rite-of-passage, post-adolescent sex, with all its predictable, bleak atmospherics: stinky futons, smelly incense, voyeuristic roommates, Miles Davis’s Kind of Blue, that giant plastic 7-Eleven cup of water you both slurp from like a holy chalice. When you leave college, you invariably romanticize your sex life back then; you might wish you could do it again. But let’s face it: by and large, you didn’t really enjoy it, and you never got as much as you thought.

Still, collegiate sex retains a nostalgic appeal that the television and movie industries can be counted on to exploit with clockwork regularity. On October 11 comes a film version of Bret Easton Ellis’ darkly entertaining small-college bone-a-thon, The Rules of Attraction, which features James Van Der Beek groping men and women and spanking it to broadband porn. Television’s newest take on the college sexperience is provided by Comedy Central, which on October 13 presents its first made-for-television movie, Porn ‘n Chicken.

You might remember the “real” Porn ‘n’ Chicken. A few years ago, a group of underclassmen at Yale raked up a pseudo-controversy when they founded a porno-watching club and announced their plans to make their own adult video, called The Staxxx, in the school library. Because it was Yale, people gave a crap. The media went wild on the story and students egged it on with cryptic interviews that were annoying in the way that only cryptic interviews with Ivy League undergrads can be. Voila — now there’s a movie.

If you thought the actual Porn ‘n’ Chicken saga was a little too smart for its own good, rest assured that Comedy Central has done its best to suppress any intelligence in its inaugural cinematic effort. Porn ‘n Chicken the movie — which takes place not at Yale, but a fictitious institution (what a wimp-out) and commences with a flock of students who unwind with crispy wings and Debbie Does Dallas — is a sadly sanitized, plodding sex comedy that’s duller than a married couple’s first stab at amateur porn. 

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Like a fourth-year sophomore, the film has no idea what it wants to be. Part of it yearns to be smart, and a few lines imply that some thought went into their creation — one PNC member praises a fellow member’s porn script for its “dialogue on how doggy style is an affront to women’s empowerment” — but every time the film teeters on the brink of making an original statement, it stoops to bland TV convention. For every scene with flair, there are syrupy romantic subplots that stall the film’s momentum, and PNC’s battles with their doofus college president (Kurt Fuller), are clichéd and corny. Interesting conflicts — freedom-of-speech issues, a feminist character’s enthusiastic embrace of pornography and its liberties — are addressed only cosmetically. Porn ‘n Chicken might have worked if it had tried to incorporate some real Ivy League humor (i.e. arch and unabashed snottiness). It would have been interesting to see what a discriminating eye like Whit Stillman, director of Metropolitan, would have done with the subject matter. Instead, it’s Dawson’s Creek does Deep Throat.

 As for the sex, well, there’s not much of it. There’s a bum here and there, and a woman appears to flash one of the Porn ‘n’ Chicken members as he makes his way to a disciplinary hearing. The PNC members hook up and roll around with each other on occasion, but this being basic cable, it’s really no sweatier than My So-Called Life. The penultimate sexual moment — when the students actually get down to business and start making their movie — is brief and disappointing after the long buildup. Porn ‘n Chicken could have been hot and dangerous — a sex comedy with skin and smarts; a sharp study of how the national media was bamboozled into reporting on a faux sexual moment — but instead it’s just rote and unsatisfying. Much like you probably were in the sack freshman year.

©2002 Nerve and Ryan Tuthill