Forgotten Friday Flick – “Up The Creek”

Since summer is almost at an end we’re veering into past wet and wild comedy territory as a last hilarious hoorah to celebrate the end the sunny cinematic season – welcome to Forgotten Friday Flick!  This week features an 80’s outing complete with charismatic cads and lusty ladies that also throws a great deal of slapstick and sun in for good measure.  Seems some unscholarly unsavory types are chosen by their university to compete in a local rafting race and win – and it’s not a request.  Dangerous rapids, cute co-eds, smart dogs, flying banana splits and crows that just won’t shut up make up this shameful blending of Animal House and Porky’s.  (And that’s just the cast!)  They may have passion, perseverance and even paddles, but these hapless gents are still…Up The Creek!

Bob, Max, Irwin and Gonzer are the worst of the worst as far as students attending Lepetomane University – so much so that their Dean has decided to rid the school not only of its awful reputation but the boys as well.  Using both blackmail and the promise of degrees, the gang are forcibly volunteered to compete in an intercollegiate raft race by the dour Dean with an expectation to win.  So the foursome must battle privileged preppies, Ivy League ass wipes and military academy freaks (not to mention their own demons involving women, food and alcohol!) in order to try and bring home the gold for once in their life.

While Up The Creek owes its very existence to the myriad of college hijinks flicks that came before it, it’s no less a silly satisfying outing itself.  Infusing some memorable slapstick (the early crow kill scenes set the mood!) and sight gags (all of Gonzer’s mishaps are A-caliber physical comedy!) alongside the typical tropes of the era (bragging, beer and babes in bikinis!), Up The Creek utilizes what works in the genre (and some of what doesn’t – but even that is awesome too!) and uses it well.  The script by 80’s moxie man Jim Kouf (see Class and Secret Admirer!) has just enough zingers alongside colorful characters (yes, sometimes cardboard cutouts – but with zeal!) and some surprisingly good white water rafting sequences (who knew?!) to make the film stand out.  It definitely has 80’s staging (see similar Bachelor Party – same year film fans!) complete with blonde bad guys, goofy gangs trying to thwart the lovable lead losers and plenty of sin and skin to boot, but its pinch of amusing originality (all the stuff involving smart mutt Chuck the Wonder Dog is classic!) does elevate its familiar wares to a beyond the norm level.

Plus Up The Creek knows casting in college comedies is key and it makes no apologies about borrowing most of its band of misfits from successful flicks in the same vein that came before.  So along with National Lampoon’s Animal House alum Tim Matheson as the charismatic and cocky Bob and Stephen Furst as idiot savant Gonzer, this one also adds Porky’s own Dan Monahan as the alcohol loving Max to seal the underdog oddball deal.  (Sandy Helberg as the button-downed Irwin makes a wonderfully uptight forth addition!)  Not that there aren’t some notable side characters (James B. Sikking shows off his sassy side!) or even early female eye candy in the form of the lusty Jennifer Runyon and Revenge of the Nerds Betty Childs babe Julie Montgomery (this is the 80’s ladies!), but Up The Creek belongs to the timing of the funny foursome.

Up The Creek is definitely a hidden gem, but its unavailability has more to do with the 80’s oversaturation of such similar silly material than anything else.  Studios were cranking out the college comedies that cost next to nothing and as such the genre grew tired and went by the wayside.  But the beauty of looking at past pictures in the party animal genre is finding those diamonds in the rough that had slightly more to offer – fortunately the funny of Up The Creek still floats.


I'm a passionate and opinionated film critic/movie journalist with over 20 years of experience in writing about film - now exclusively for WhySoBlu.com. Previous sites include nine years at Starpulse.com where I created Forgotten Friday Flick back in 2011, before that as Senior Entertainment Editor for The213.net and 213 Magazine, as well as a staff writer for JoBlo.com. My other love is doing cool events for the regular guy with my company Flicks For Fans alongside my friend, partner and Joblo.com writer James "Jimmy O" Oster. Check us out at www.Facebook.com/FlicksForFans.

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