Picks and Pans Review: Pcu

updated 05/16/1994 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/16/1994 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Jeremy Piven, Chris Young, David Spade, Megan Ward, Jessica Walter

Few aspects of American culture make such a fat, deserving target for derision as political correctness, the compulsion to overcompensate for past prejudice by behaving as if women, blacks, gays and all subcultures are above criticism and beyond reproach.

This crude college comedy is not the perfect lampoon the PC phenomenon warrants. It rather suggests an archer who doesn't hit his target that often but kicks it over frequently.

"Young is a prospective student visiting the campus of a fictional Connecticut university where self-righteous students protest everything, including protests. Most obnoxious is a protofeminist group called the Womynists that maintains a perpetual demonstration against the "phallocracy" and chastises any woman who dates a white male. The school's president, Walters, has two preoccupations: the students' "sensitivity level" and changing the school's sports team mascot from the ostensibly offensive Indians to an endangered species, the whooping cranes.

Screenwriters Adam Leff and Zak Perm lean heavily on the Womynists, but they're evenhandedly heavy-handed, using Saturday Night Live's Spade as their politically incorrect stalking horse. Spade plays a "Reaganite" fraternity president who laments, "This place used to be a bastion of elitism, but now there are homosexuals on the football team, and the minute you seduce a woman into having sex, you're brought up on charges."

The film is funniest in its few subtle moments, such as when an on-campus queue breaks down into an argument over whether women, gays or blacks are the most oppressed. There is also the school's only serious student doing a thesis on the Caine-Hackman theory, which supposes that there is always a movie starring Michael Caine and/or Gene Hack man on TV

It's damning with faint praise indeed to call this the best of the current college comedy movies, but there you go. (PG-13)

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