The Oral History of ‘PCU’, the Culture Wars Cult Classic

The 90s comedy skewered campus politics, featured John Favreau in dreadlocks, and got George Clinton to cover Prince. Obviously, we had questions.

Apr 5 2022, 5:40pm

In the early 1990s, there was a lull in the lucrative tradition of college comedies. Sensing an opportunity, 20th Century Fox greenlit PCU, a low-budget film that featured a cast of largely unknown actors. Considered a direct descendent of 1978’s raucous Animal House, it updated the premise by setting the movie on a campus dominated by activist politics and political correctness. At the time, P.C. was still a new cultural concept to most Americans, and as the movie’s hero helpfully explains, “It’s not just politics, it’s everything. It’s what you eat, it’s what you wear and it’s what you say. And if you don’t watch yourself, you can get yourself in a buttload of trouble.” 

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The film was released on April 29, 1994. It flopped.

Then as the years passed, it found an audience and achieved cult status through constant replays on cable and robust home video rentals. 

Written by Adam Leff and Zak Penn—who had just graduated from Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut—much of PCU satirized their own experiences. They attended Wesleyan during a tumultuous time that included protests over the school’s investments in Apartheid-era South Africa, a push for more faculty of color, and the firebombing of the president’s office

The movie mostly takes place over a single day as a clueless pre-frosh named Tom (played by Chris Young) visits the fictional Port Chester University. He is assigned to stay with Droz (Jeremy Piven, in his first lead performance), a fast-talking shitstarter who rules over The Pit, a former fraternity that’s become the home of the school’s wastoids and weirdos. The Pit is in the midst of a multi-front war. The house is loathed by the Causeheads, whose protests dominate campus life, as well as a group of radical feminists called the Womynists. They are also seen as a blight on the college by both the school’s self-servingly progressive administration (represented by an acidic Jessica Walter as President Garcia-Thompson) and Balls and Shaft, a crew of preppy Reaganites led by David Spade’s Rand McPherson. When the residents of The Pit learn they must pay $7000 in property damages or lose their house, they plan to raise the cash with a rager that will attract the entire student body. After house band Everyone Gets Laid can’t perform, they miraculously get Parliament-Funkadelic to replace them. Good times and fleeting student unity ensues.

PCU included the first major role for Jon Favreau, who proved himself to be a multifaceted talent as the writer of Swingers and, more recently, a critical component in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and Star Wars television shows. Matt Ross has a small part, decades before he had more memorable appearances (like Hooli founder Gavin Belson in Silicon Valley) and transitioned into directing projects like the film Captain Fantastic and the upcoming Watergate series Gaslit. Additionally, PCU marked the directorial debut of Hart Bochner, an actor best known for playing the über-yuppie prick Ellis in Die Hard and who recently portrayed billionaire Larry Ellison in Hulu’s The Dropout. Not long after PCU’s release, its writers stopped working together, with Leff eventually leaving the film industry. Penn has amassed decades worth of work in entertainment, including credits on films like Ready Player One and last year’s Free Guy.

Almost 30 years later, many of the ideas that PCU skewered have returned as national debates on wokeness and cancel culture. These subjects have become an obsession in cable news, talk radio, podcasts, social media platforms, and political messaging. Under the clips of the film that have made it to YouTube, some commenters see PCU as a dark prophecy of society’s future that went unheeded. That wasn’t the movie’s intention, though, and its creators still don’t see it that way. Instead, they were more troubled by a climate where young people turned against each other, rather than attacking the institutions that wielded power over them.  

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“The thing that drove PCU was a message—though it definitely is not a message movie—that we can all see each other in our different categories and hopefully still find some common ground,” says Paul Schiff, the movie’s producer. “And that common ground may be defined by the ability to laugh at ourselves, at each other, and find some common humanity in what we all share.” That’s an idealistic and probably well-intentioned notion, but one that might feel out of touch in 2022.

After the disappointment of PCU, Jeremy Piven returned to supporting parts before going on to win three Emmys for his work as the agent Ari Gold on Entourage. Then in 2017 and ’18, BuzzFeed News reported that multiple women accused Piven of sexual assault and harassment. Piven denies all these allegations and says he’s subsequently been excluded from the mainstream entertainment industry, enmeshing him in the modern cancel culture debate. In response, he has turned to careers in podcasting and stand-up comedy.

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While PCU fans are still out there, once again its presence has started to recede. Not only is it unavailable on any streaming service, it currently can’t be rented or bought from Amazon and Apple.

Here, PCU’s creators, the actors who played the inhabitants of The Pit—and even George Clinton, king of interplanetary funk—tell the story of how this film was made and how it’s been received over the decades.


THE SCRIPT AND INSPIRATION

Zak Penn (screenwriter): I got to Wesleyan in 1986, graduated in 1990. I was actually a theater major.

Adam Leff (screenwriter): I did five years, ’85 to ’90. The fifth year I was there, I was just making my student film. Wesleyan back then was far more loosey-goosey. I don't think they would let a student just do a fifth year for fun anymore. We weren't paying tuition or anything.

Zak Penn: There were a lot of protests over the things that there still are on college campuses, which are violence against women and racism. And sometimes there were protests over really random things. That was part of Wesleyan's charm. 

Adam Leff: It was the birth of Womanist House and women's studies. Every weekend there was a vigil outside the frat houses.

Zak Penn: One of the inspirations for the movie was one of the first classes I was in. The professor said that he was a Black lesbian trapped in the body of a white man. Nowadays, that would go over extremely poorly, but in those days it was considered radically progressive. 

Adam Leff: It always seemed comical. Here we were at this super privileged liberal arts college in Connecticut, and yet the campus looked like Berkeley in 1968. 

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Zak Penn: I had written a bunch of plays, and then I wrote a screenplay for one of the student films. Adam and I decided to team up. As soon as we left Wesleyan, we immediately wrote a script about a giant rat in Central Park, which we decided not to show anyone. We did actually sell it years later, but whatever. A year out of college, we sold Last Action Hero and had a career. We got fired almost immediately, which is why we don't have a screenplay credit on it.

Adam Leff: We started to pursue the idea that it would be really funny to make a modern-day Animal House.

Zak Penn: We sold the pitch for PCU to Paul Schiff, another Wesleyan graduate.

Paul Schiff (producer): I had my producing deal at Fox. I had started that with the film My Cousin Vinny. Zak and Adam came into my office and we were just talking about our experiences at Wesleyan. Out of that conversation, an idea sprung up.”

Zak Penn: In Hollywood, [political correctness] wasn't a big deal. Nobody really talked about it back then. We were just kind of making fun of the stuff that we had just been living with for four years. It wasn't like, “Oh, we need to make a statement to warn the world about encroaching P.C. culture.”

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Adam Leff: I don't think we ever walked around Wesleyan and said, “This is where the country's headed.” It always seemed fringe.

On the set of 'PCU.'

Zak Penn: It's based on my own pre-frosh weekend at Wesleyan. I stayed with a guy I knew named James Drosnes, who lived in Eclectic House.

Adam Leff: Eclectic was filled with a lot of punk rockers. They had the best parties every weekend, so we would go get wasted and occasionally score some drugs, to be totally honest.

Zak Penn: Eclectic had a great sense of humor and had great bands. 

Adam Leff: They were very apolitical. They weren't actively at war with Womanist House. That's something that we invented. 

Zak Penn: Almost all of the people in the movie have some basis [in real people].

Adam Leff: Pigman was based on an actual guy named Pigman. He was not constantly watching TV. I don't think he had a TV. He was constantly smoking pot.

“I don't think we ever walked around Wesleyan and said, ‘This is where the country's headed.’ It always seemed fringe.” —Adam Leff, screenwriter

Zak Penn: Gutter is a dumb version of my very smart friend, Marc Flacks, who had dreadlocks and quit the football team to follow his Marxist studies desires.

Marc Flacks (sociology professor, kinda inspiration for Gutter): I grew up in the hard left. [Politically correct] was a term we used. It was a way that leftwing people would help each other stay on message and be righteous. It was never expected that somebody at Dartmouth would be politically correct. We knew that they knew they were conservative bastards.

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Zak Penn: Three different people think they're the basis for Droz. It's kind of an archetypal character, a guy who always seems to have the right line and is constantly down for having a good time.


PRE-PRODUCTION

Paul Schiff: It was a very different time in the feature business than now. Fox was probably making 40 to 50 movies a year. 

Zak Penn: I learned subsequently that often you sell a pitch and you're working on it for years, then it sits around and one day, a long time later, it gets made. [PCU] was incredibly lucky. It all happened really, really fast.

Paul Schiff: [Fox’s] distribution pattern consisted of big-budget movies, international titles that they knew would travel, dramas, comedies, romance, action, adventure… The idea of sprinkling in some lower-budget movies was very common in those days. We were able to kind of slip into the system because they had a pipeline to fill.

Megan Ward (actor, plays Katy): There were all those ’90s movies that had that high-concept, low-budget thing—these mini studio movies.

Zak Penn: Paul Schiff and the studio executives were basically like, “Move onto the lot and take these offices.” I believe Mel Brooks had the other half of the bungalows. 

Hart Bochner (director): I’ve been acting since 1975. Since I was a little kid, I wanted to be a director. So in 1991, I wrote and directed a short [The Buzz], which was a black comedy that I got my buddy Jon Lovitz to do about a guy who gets trapped in his apartment with a mosquito. 20th Century Fox and Paul Schiff saw it, and then the campaign began to try to secure the job directing [PCU]. 

“The more I examined the script and the more I did my homework about where culture was going on campuses, the more I thought, geez, there’s an opportunity here.” —Hart Bochner, director

Zak Penn: We were huge fans of his because he was in Die Hard. That's all we wanted to talk about.

Hart Bochner: Initially, I thought it’s not really my sensibilities, it’s not really my area of expertise. I had been out of college at that point for over a dozen years. But the more I examined the script and the more I did my homework about where culture was going on campuses, the more I thought, geez, there’s an opportunity here.

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Zak Penn: The first draft for PCU was pretty insane. We had an ending where President Garcia-Thompson pulls off her face. It's a mask and it reveals that it was Ed McMahon. Then he pulls off that mask and it’s President Garcia-Thompson again. We had this crazy subplot that The Pit had been built on a Native American burial ground and also a pet cemetery. So at the end, this ghost appears and it’s a dog. Then they say, “Oh my God, it's a ghost dog.” And he was like, “Non-human animal companion, please.”

Hart Bochner: We steered the writers. These guys were exceptionally talented. It wasn’t necessarily a joke-driven piece of material, but in its observations of campus life and political correctness, I thought we could mine it for more humor. 

Zak Penn: The Simpsons had come out while we were in college, and we wanted to embrace that and do something where you just don’t know quite where this movie is going to go. As we got closer to production, the studio started to have cold feet about some of that stuff and said, “Maybe we should just focus on the characters and the comedy and less on breaking the fourth wall.”

Hart Bochner: We didn't reinvent it. We just strengthened stuff. 

Zak Penn: In the earliest drafts, there’s a lot more drug-taking. There’s a whole sequence where Gutter gets really high and the heads of the studio appear on-screen and disavow smoking pot.

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Hart Bochner: We had our R-rated version of the script, which was a little raunchier. When the Womynists are playing Frisbee versus the Deadheads, the women were topless. The studio said, “No, no, no. You gotta deliver a PG-13.” So I shot a PG-13 version.

Zak Penn: We had a lot of nudity because naked guy, who was a real guy, was always nude. We just had a lot of ironic nudity in it, frankly.


CASTING

Hart Bochner: We met all the actors of the day.

Zak Penn: We got to watch the auditions. We saw a parade of actors coming through, many of whom became big stars. I remember one day, we’re in this front office and John Stamos comes in. We were shocked that he was coming in to read for Droz, which just seemed totally wrong. He thought we were interns. He was like, “Have you guys read this script? So many words. Jesus.” And we were just like, “Yeah, we wrote it.”

Hart Bochner: I talked to Adam Sandler, Ashley Judd. I was kind of dating Naomi Watts at the time, I felt she was too young. Steve Zahn was up for the role of the pre-frosh. There was an abundance of talent out there. I felt that it was critical that not only did everybody have to get the joke, but there had to be a sort of sweet innocence about all the actors. Young actors would come in that were edgy or a bit angry, and that wouldn’t have worked. And there were actors like Andy Dick, who were really punctuating the humor physically, which wouldn't have worked either. 

Hart Bochner on the set of 'PCU.'

Paul Schiff: The studio was betting on new, fresh comedy voices. There were certainly discussions about bigger names, but there was no pressure of: “We're not going to make the movie unless you can get a famous name.”

Hart Bochner: I had seen Adam [Sandler] on Saturday Night Live and thought, frankly, he was too broad. I wanted something more grounded in reality. He has turned into a terrific actor who can play any number of personalities, which was my mistake,

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Adam Leff: We had originally hoped Chris Farley would play Droz. I don’t know what the movie would have been like with Farley and Spade. I think it probably would have been very funny, but in a different way.

Before carrying PCU, many of Jeremy Piven’s early roles were in films starring John Cusack, his real-life best friend who he grew up with. When Piven was cast in PCU, he had a job playing a writer on The Larry Sanders Show, which he left to shoot the film. 

Hart Bochner: My buddy Cameron Crowe had used [Jeremy Piven] in Singles. I thought, “That guy has the right energy for it.”

Paul Schiff: I remember Piven's audition very well. It was wild and hilarious and full of that great manic vibrating quality. 

Jeremy Piven (actor, plays Droz): My father [the actor and drama teacher Byrne Piven] was someone who never shied away from the truth, for good or ill. He introduced me to people like John Malkovich, who as a child I got to see do True West, and he was an absolute beautiful anarchist. Of course John Belushi. I started at Second City with Chris Farley. There were a lot of great wild animals, and you draw from everything in your world. 

Megan Ward: Chris [Young] I kind of knew as a peer. We were in that same pack of people who audition for the young leads of shows. I didn't know him personally, but he had done work around things that I had auditioned for. He was rising at the time.

“We were shocked that John Stamos was coming in to read for Droz, which just seemed totally wrong. He thought we were interns.” —Zak Penn, screenwriter

Paul Schiff: It was a hard role because he was essentially the straight man. It was played with innocence and wide-eyed wonder, walking into this crazy world. That takes a certain finesse and I thought he did that quite well.

Young left acting in the late 1990s and currently works as an executive in technology-based entertainment. He declined to be interviewed for this article.

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Alex Désert (actor, plays Mullaney): I had just done The Heights. I had been working on some TV shows that would go, like, a season.

Megan Ward: Spade was famous, but I think he had only been on Saturday Night Live for a year. 

Gale Mayron (actor, plays Cecilia): I'd gone to film school, so I had been trying to figure out how am I going to direct something. Acting was always something I did, but kind of half-assedly because it's such a fraught, difficult business, especially as a woman. I had done lots of tiny B-movies. I was always the girl that wound up dead, strangled alongside the road or thrown in a refrigerator. I got a job for three months at MTV. It was [co-hosting] a live TV show [Hangin’ w/ MTV], the before-TRL

Paul Schiff: [Jon Favreau] was completely unknown at the time. The studio felt they needed to put him through his paces, but we knew from the get-go that there was no one else we were interested in.

Hart Bochner: The smartest guy on the set was Favreau. He had tremendous ideas. I wanted him to play it like a goofy puppy.

Alex Désert: They gave Jon dreadlocks for the movie. [During filming] I remember going, “Yo, you got to know what it feels like to be a dreadlock,” and there happened to be a double feature of The Harder They Come and Rockers going. We were on the train and then this rasta walked on. He gives me the proper “what’s up” nod and gives Jon the once over real slow and real hard, then looks him in the eye and goes, “Respect,” and walks away. I remember going, “You’re indoctrinated!”


FILMING

Paul Schiff: We wanted to make the movie in the States and find that perfect college-on-the-hill setting. There were financial pressures, and the best way to get the most days of shooting and the most resources was to go to Toronto. Connecticut at the time didn’t have any tax incentives and there was no infrastructure for filming. We did sneak onto Wesleyan’s campus and shot a few establishing shots, just for fun.

Zak Penn: We all hung out together in Toronto and we were all around college age. It was kind of an amazing experience,

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Paul Schiff: What was great about making a small movie at a studio that's making all these other projects is we didn't get a lot of surveillance.

Megan Ward: I had done a season of a series [Class of ’96] in Toronto the year before, so I became Julie Your Cruise Director of Toronto for everybody.

Alex Désert: In my head, it’s like the Peanuts gang walking down the streets of Toronto.

Adam Leff: Lots of times the writers get booted to the side or replaced. We were on set the whole time, which is rare in my experience and super fun. It was what I thought screenwriting was going to be like before I actually experienced it.

Zak Penn: We were there rewriting anything that we were asked to. There have only been two or three movies that I’ve written that I’ve been on set the whole way, and PCU was one of them.

“If you remember it, you weren’t there.” —George Clinton, musician

Paul Schiff: It was their idea, and the specificity of their observations about their own experience was a big part of the project. It seems pretty silly not to have the creators there to be able to make adjustments and tweaks and fixes along the way to sharpen the writing and sharpen the jokes. 

Megan Ward: [Piven] got malaria. How do you get malaria in Canada? He was literally in the hospital for like 48 hours. 

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Alex Désert: Piven is just the king of improvisation, letting it flow. What’s great about that is you don’t have to do too much, just react and act. 

Megan Ward: So many of those lines came from Piven and Favreau.

Zak Penn: We had the whole discussion about “don’t wear the shirt of the band you’re going to see,” and Piven came up with, “Don't be that guy.” We were just like, “Oh my God, that's brilliant. And we’re totally going to get credit for it.”

Alex Désert: There was supposed to be a big band [play the party], but we weren't sure who it was going to be. We thought it was going to be Stevie Wonder. There were all these different rewrites.

Zak Penn: Originally it was Nirvana. It was before they were huge, and then they got so big we couldn’t get them. Then for a minute, it was going to be Anthrax. I remember going to meet with them at a hotel in LA. 

Hart Bochner: It was floated by a buddy of mine who was a music supervisor, “What if you got the Goo Goo Dolls?” Even though they were popular at the time, it doesn’t make sense for this movie tonally. We hired Ralph Sall [as music supervisor] and he said, “What about George Clinton?” 

Zak Penn: Clinton ended up being perfect. 

George Clinton performing in 'PCU.'

In the film, George Clinton and his band’s bus gets lost on the way to a show in Hartford and they end up in Port Chester. Not recognizing who they are, the character Gutter asks for a ride back to The Pit. When they get there, Droz convinces the group to play their party instead, which is what causes the students to pause their in-fighting and have fun.   

George Clinton (founder of Parliament-Funkadelic): If you remember it, you weren’t there. I do remember that they had some of the first of what they called kind bud—chronic and all of that. We had a ball, that's what I remember. 

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Alex Désert: When they arrived, Jon, George, and I were in the van. They were driving us to set and Jon asked him, “Have you ever been to Toronto before?” And George looks up, takes a minute and says, "Yeah, it was 1967." And Jon goes, “What was it like?” And he goes, “All I remember is a green pill.” And that was it.

George Clinton: We went through a lot of the colleges for real, especially during ’67, ’68, and ’69. We was living in Cambridge, around Harvard, BCU, and Amherst. We played all those colleges so much that we saw all of those actual characters that was in that movie in real life. 

Alex Désert: When they were on set, doing the playback, it was electrifying. 

George Clinton: We came up with doing “Erotic City,” and they wanted us to do “Give Up the Funk (Tear the Roof Off).” [“Erotic City”] was one of Prince’s funkiest ones and that was my boy. We always jam with his songs in rehearsals. I just knew [“Erotic City”] would be a slick one, just like the way Otis Day and them did “Shout” and “Shammalamma Ding Dong” from the ’50s [in Animal House].

Gale Mayron: I had to do a scene with [Clinton]. The band were all hanging out for a couple of days, and I just went over and I started hanging out with them. And then I was like [to the other actors], “It's OK guys, come over. It’s really cool.” He was so sweet. I asked for a souvenir and he gave me a couple of his dreadlocks, which I kept, and a signed P-Funk CD.

Production on PCU ended in the summer of 1993.


RELEASE AND DISAPPOINTMENT

Hart Bochner: [During filming] everybody was raving about the dailies. I remember people [at Fox] saying to me, “You’re our A-list comedy guy here.”

Paul Schiff: I don’t think [the studio] ever fully embraced the more outrageous, more provocative aspects of the project. I do recall getting lots of little notes about: Are we going too far there? Can we tone it down?

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Hart Bochner: I was under the assumption that the studio was really going to support it and spend some money on it. 

Paul Schiff: It became pretty clear that it was going to be a mild release. They weren’t putting in enough resources and, frankly, creativity behind the marketing. 

Zak Penn: No offense to whoever did it, but the marketing was terrible. That poster of the pizza box with the line, “Flunk them if they can’t take a joke,” talk about watering down. A lot of the commercials felt like they just were focusing on the broadest jokes they could find. It seemed like someone who didn't get our generation had done the ad campaign.

Hart Bochner: We did three test screenings, and the first one, the numbers were mediocre. Then [after edits] I jumped [the score] about 20 points on the second screening into the high eighties, then maybe low nineties on the final testing. By that point, money had been allocated, which wasn't enough to get it out there. The movie just didn't perform.

Paul Schiff: The movie was released with a PG-13 rating. I will always be haunted by what I think was the funnier cut of the picture, which would have gotten an R. We were forced to release it as a PG-13 because at the time the studio marketers felt like the R rating would turn off a certain part of the audience. We felt like the funnier version wins. Period. The concept promised an edgy experience. When you sand down the edges and pull the more profane language or drug use or sexuality, all of a sudden the movie isn't fulfilling its own promise.

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Hart Bochner: We had a post-mortem the Friday night the movie was released. You go to the office of [president of marketing and distribution] Tom Sherak. You wait for the numbers to come in from all these markets all over the country, and they were really bad. The last thing I said was, “Guys, I want to thank you for the greatest experience of my life. I promise you, the sequel will do better.” Everybody laughed.

“The concept promised an edgy experience. When you sand down the edges and pull the more profane language or drug use or sexuality, all of a sudden the movie isn't fulfilling its own promise.” —Paul Schiff, producer

Zak Penn: We couldn't even get the people who were represented in the movie to go see it opening weekend. I was like, “Wow, if I can’t convince James Drosnes to go opening weekend, no wonder we did so badly.”

Marc Flacks: The movie mortified me at one point. When it came out in theaters, I took a girl I was kind of seeing when I was at [graduate school at] UC Santa Cruz. When she saw this Gutter character, I don't think she wanted to date me anymore. I kept on telling her that’s not how I was in college. I wasn’t that much of a bonehead.

Jeremy Piven: My father was my acting teacher since I was a child. He and I were driving around together in Chicago. I saw the movie was at a theater and I said, “Pull over.” And he said, “Are you sure?” I knew that he kind of knew something. I ran into the theater and the moment I opened the door, I was opening the door on-screen simultaneously. And I opened the door to a completely empty house. But that's life, man. It's a miracle to make a movie. 

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Hart Bochner: They let me stay in my office another six weeks beyond the release of the movie. I remembered how I had felt coming back from location with the tremendous reaction that we’d had. Then going into the studio and the commissary the following Monday with my tail between my legs, like I failed everybody, it was really tough.

Paul Schiff: These days it would not be a standalone feature. It would be on a streaming platform and it would probably be a series, and that may even be the ideal way to have fun with this story.

Zak Penn: At that era in Hollywood, if they had put all their resources behind it, would it have been a hit? I don't know. Probably not. I mean, it's a weird movie. 


AFTERLIFE AND LEGACY

Paul Schiff: The movie faded out a little bit in our minds. And then, all of a sudden, we started getting all these letters and emails and calls from people who had just discovered the movie for the first time, usually college students.

Zak Penn: It started playing on Comedy Central every 15 minutes. So years later it started to get more popular and now there’s a lot of love for it.

Jeremy Piven: People hit me up all the time about why it’s not streaming. I don't know what to do. I almost want to perform a one-man show for them in their living room just to reenact it.

Paul Schiff: It's still being passed around and people are discovering it. I'm not exactly sure how it’s become a cult comedy, but that seems to be the case.

Marc Flacks: The movie did a good job of showing that the corporate leaders that run these schools may have what we would now call a ‘woke’ mentality, when in fact they’re the same old guard that always ran things.

“The movie did a good job of showing that the corporate leaders that run these schools may have what we would now call a ‘woke’ mentality, when in fact they’re the same old guard that always ran things.” —Marc Flacks, actor

Zak Penn: There are times where people will bring it up and I'm like, “You should watch the movie more closely.” The Balls and Shaft guys are still the villains of the movie.

Marc Flacks: I think [my students] would say it was cringe-y. That's the term my daughter might use. Some of the things that are portrayed in the movie as crazy on the politically correct side, like some of what the Womynists say, my daughter now would be like, “She's right on.”

Adam Leff: The whole woke movement, it’s obviously an echo of those times. I certainly feel like we're on repeat, although this feels more universal. It goes to the workplace, it goes into politics, it goes into your everyday life in a way that the P.C. movement probably didn't. P.C. was much more campus and more academic. Maybe that was just a first hiccup. I do feel like things receded for a while under George Bush. They've certainly come back, maybe as a reaction to Trump.

Hart Bochner: The times we live in right now are extremely raw, and rightly so on a lot of levels. Inequality of any kind is unacceptable, but what does it mean when you aren't able to skewer it in order to make a point?

Gale Mayron: I'm Gen X. We grew up where everything was sarcasm. We’re going to make fun of the culture. If you grew up in a certain time, it's very hard to adjust to the new time. 

Zak Penn: We always had an affection for the absurdity of college—the absurdity of what you could take classes in, the absurdity of what you could write your papers about. It was an affectionate look at the absurdity of the whole situation. I do think there are instances today where there's more at stake, where people are afraid to speak in both directions, or where there's a reaction and a counter-reaction that are equally out of line. But back then, it more felt like this crazy little subculture of a bunch of schools that we just happened to live through.

Adam Leff: When I look at the movie now, it seems very tame to me. Maybe that's just because of where the culture has gone and where films have gone, but it’s good-hearted, almost.


Tagged:

Film, 90S, COLLEGE, Oral History, Culture Wars, pcu

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