Up the Creek (1984)

Up20The20CreekUp the Creek (1984) Orion Pictures/Comedy RT: 96 minutes Rated R (language, crude humor, violence, nudity, sexual content, alcohol abuse) Director: Robert Butler Screenplay: Jim Kouf, Jeff Sherman and Douglas Grossman Music: William Goldstein Cinematography: James Glennon Release date: April 6, 1984 Starring: Tim Matheson, Jennifer Runyon, Dan Monahan, Stephen Furst, Sandy Helberg, Jeff East, Blaine Novak, James Sikking, John Hillerman, Mark Andrews, Will Bledsoe, Grant Wilson, Julie Montgomery, Jeana Tomasina, Romy Windsor, Jesse D. Goins, Robert Costanzo, Ken Gibbel, Hap Lawrence, Jake the Dog. Box Office: $11. 7 million

Rating: fullstarfullstarfullstarstar-empty

Up the Creek marks a milestone in the "college slob comedy" subgenre in that it features big names from other similar movies....... Tim Matheson and Stephen Furst (Animal House), Dan Monahan (Porky's) and Sandy Helberg (The Hollywood Knights). It takes the whole "slobs vs. snobs" premise to a different location, a collegiate white-water raft race, with often hilarious results. Four underachieving students from Lepetomane University (aka Lobotomy U) are compelled to compete in the raft race because they're the worst students in the country ("You're not AT the bottom of the list. You ARE the bottom of the list!").

The leader of the motley crew is Bob McGraw (Matheson), a smooth-talking BS artist who's caused lots of problems on campus. His crew consists of wanna-be ladies man Max (Monahan), fat slob Gonzer (Furst) and alcoholic nerd Irwin (Helberg). McGraw also has a very clever dog named Chuck, he might be the smartest one in the group. Dean Burch (Hillerman, Magnum P.I.) blackmails the guys into doing this because his school has never won a trophy in anything, in his words, "...the only certifiable recognition that any of our alumni have ever received is a parole." He blackmails them into participating with extensive records of Bob's various antics around the campus, but he promises them degrees in any subject of their choosing if they win the race. Who can pass up an offer like that, right?

up-the-creek-movie-poster-1984They're up against some fierce competition, such as the reigning champions, Washington Military Institute, who end up getting disqualified after attempting to sabotage the other teams' rafts. Captain Braverman (Novak), the commanding officer of the team, blames Bob for his getting caught and spends the entire duration of the race trying to force his team out of the race....permanently! A crew of preppies from Ivy University, led by Rex Crandall (East, Pumpkinhead), plan to cheat their way to the finishing line with the help of a dishonest alumnus, Dr. Tozer (Sikking, The Star Chamber), who supplies them with all sorts of specially-made instruments of sabotage. There's also a quartet of hot girls from Vanity U, led by Heather Merriweather (Runyon, Ghostbusters) who hooks up with Bob immediately after dumping longtime boyfriend Rex for cheating on her. Now Rex and his guys have a vendetta against the guys from Lepetomane, it's going to be one hell of a race! Up the Creek's production values are better-than-average for a typical teen comedy, the cinematographer does a great job with the scenes on the rapids, the racing footage is actually pretty exciting. There's also a fair amount of partying, drinking, topless babes and other college hijinks. The bad guys (i.e the preppies and the soldiers) are mean and stupid, the girls are as horny as the guys and there's Chuck the Wonder Dog! This canine makes Lassie look like just another stupid dog, he's able to tell the guys where one of their teammates is being held hostage by the military cadets by way of a game of charades. What's there not to like about this flick?

The most important question about a movie like Up the Creek is whether it's funny or not, my readers can rest assured that it's a very funny movie. Keep in mind that it's not a horny teenager movie, it doesn't feature a lot of hormonally-impaired high schoolers hiding in the girls locker room hoping to catch a glimpse of the homecoming queen's breasts. Up the Creek is more of a slob comedy in the tradition of Animal House, Caddyshack, Bachelor Party and Hot Dog..... The Movie. In fact, one could refer to this movie as "Animal House on the river", it has the same sense of humor. The filmmakers chose a great cast for this movie, the actors have played some very memorable characters in other movies. Who can forget Flounder (Furst) and Eric Stratton (Matheson) in Animal House? Or Pee-Wee (Monahan) from Porky's? Fans of this genre will recognize Helberg as young Officer Clark from the 1980 cult comedy The Hollywood Knights. Does one of the girls from Vanity U look familiar to you? That's Jeana Tomasina who played Ducky in the 1982 sex comedy The Beach Girls. TV watchers will recognize Sikking from Hill Street Blues (1981-87) and Hillerman from Magnum P.I. (1980-88). Here's another interesting trivia fact, it opened the same weekend as Where the Boys Are '84 (April 6, 1984) which made for a winning weekend at the movies for this high school sophomore (at the time). One of the producers of Up the Creek is Samuel Z. Arkoff of American International Pictures fame, the movie plays like one of their goofy B-movies from the 70s, it's just a harmless college romp that will entertain the teens for 96 minutes. There's nothing wrong with that!


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