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12 Scholarly Facts About PCU

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The 1994 comedy PCU told the tale of an incoming freshman touring his future college campus and making enemies out of all of the school's divided cliques, with the exception of the party-loving Jeremy Piven and his underlings at "The Pit." The film starred Piven, David Spade, and Jon Favreau, plus Jessica Walter as President Garcia-Thompson, the woman leading the charge to make Port Chester University as politically correct as possible. The film was dismissed at the time as an Animal House knockoff, but has become a cult classic over the years.

1. IT WAS BASED ON THE WRITERS' EXPERIENCES AT WESLEYAN UNIVERSITY.

Zak Penn was visiting the Wesleyan campus as a "pre-frosh," just like Tom Lawrence (Chris Young) in PCU, when he witnessed a campus-wide campaign formed by the frat the Eclectic Society. The Society was fighting against the Office of Admission, who tried to turn Eclectic into their office building. The Pit was based on the Eclectic Society. Penn and co-writer Adam Leff—whose first sold script was Last Action Hero (1993)—got acquainted in a film appreciation course there. Penn was also influenced by his psychoanalysis class there; on the first day, his professor announced, "I'm a black lesbian trapped in the body of a white male oppressor." Penn thought he was kidding. Everyone else in the class, which Penn said was full of "ardent feminists," took him seriously.

2. IT WAS THE DIRECTOR'S FIRST FEATURE. HE LATER CLAIMED THAT IT, AND 1996'S HIGH SCHOOL HIGH, ENDED HIS CAREER BEHIND THE CAMERA.

At the time he was hired to direct PCU, Hart Bochner was better known as an actor (he played Harry Ellis in Die Hard). "I had written and directed a black comedy that was a short with Jon Lovitz and the studio saw it and they hired me to do PCU," Bochner recalled. "I was over the moon about that job, because I couldn’t believe I was doing a feature. My second film was a movie called High School High with the Zucker brothers for Sony, and then I found myself in movie jail. When you’re directing studio programmers and you don’t hit a certain box office number, you’re not advancing your career."

3. BOCHNER FOUGHT TO CAST JEREMY PIVEN.

Though it would be another decade before Jeremy Piven found mega-stardom with Entourage, Bochner knew he was the right actor for the lead role of James "Droz" Andrews. "I fought for him over people like Adam Sandler, because I thought he had the kind of energy that was rare and kinetic and infectious," Bochner said.

4. BUT PIVEN WAS CRITICAL OF BOCHNER.

On the film's DVD commentary, Piven complained that Bochner did not let him improvise; the actor felt the movie would have been funnier had he been allowed to do so.

5. PIVEN DID COME UP WITH THE MOVIE'S MOST FAMOUS LINE.

Bochner apparently allowed Piven to warn Jon Favreau's character, Gutter, about being "that guy" at the concert wearing the band's T-shirt.

6. IT WAS MOSTLY FILMED IN CANADA.

Though some footage was shot on the Wesleyan campus, for the most part, the University of Toronto portrayed the fictitious Port Chester University. When Gutter goes into Port Chester, he really goes to the village of Unionville.

7. THEY PLAYED SOFTBALL AGAINST THE CAST AND CREW OF TED DEMME'S THE REF.

Team PCU defeated the cast and crew of the Denis Leary black comedy, which was also filming in Toronto at the time. Upon being reminded of the softball loss by Ted Demme, Leary replied, "Yeah, but we have a better script.”

8. JON FAVREAU WAS HAPPY TO LOSE HIS DREADLOCKS.

While, in 2014, Favreau called working on the movie an "amazing experience," he also revealed in a Reddit AMA his most vivid memory was spending nine hours in a chair getting dreadlocks woven into his hair to play Gutter. "My happiest moment is when we finished filming, and they pulled all the dreadlocks out, and I got to wash my hair and run a comb through it," he recalled. "It was like being reborn."

9. 20TH CENTURY FOX INSISTED IT BE RATED PG-13, TO THE FILM'S DETRIMENT.

"One thing they did do that I wasn’t thrilled about was that they required me to deliver a PG-13 movie, that was contractual, but I felt like they made me cut out the edgier, funnier, aspects of the whole PCU thing," Bochner said. "We had to soften some of that stuff, which worked against the movie."

10. SOME WESLEYAN STUDENTS DIDN'T LIKE IT.

Leff, Penn, and producer Paul Schiff (another Wesleyan alum) attended two screenings of their movie. While most of the audience seemed receptive, the Hartford Courant reported that there was "some hissing, a few isolated shouts, some paper airplanes aloft, and several walkouts." When one woman said "this sucks" as she walked up the aisle, Schiff retorted with a sarcastic, "Thank you." In a mock ceremony later that night, Wesleyan President William M. Chace rescinded Schiff, Leff and Penn's diplomas.

11. ZAK PENN WAS "HEARTBROKEN" WHEN THE FILM DIDN'T DO WELL.

"PCU, which at the time was dismissed ... is now, in the States at least, a cult comedy," Penn said in an interview with Den of Geek. "To talk to a classroom full of students, and hear that they all love this movie, which didn't get the time of day, is pretty satisfying—because at the time it was heartbreaking."

12. PENN HAS GIVEN UP ON WRITING COMEDIES ENTIRELY.

"I don't even try to write comedies for Hollywood anymore," Penn told Moviefone in 2007. "I've written a couple, and I don't like the way they come out. PCU was the last comedy I wrote, and that was the last one I wanted anything to do with."

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Twentieth Century Fox
Big Is Coming Back to Theaters for Its 30th Anniversary
Twentieth Century Fox
Twentieth Century Fox

Break out your giant piano: Big is coming back to theaters! As Entertainment Weekly reports, the hit Tom Hanks-starring comedy will be making its triumphant return to the big screen to celebrate the film’s 30th anniversary, courtesy of Turner Classic Movies and 20th Century Fox.

Though the movie itself was released on June 3, 1988, these special anniversary screenings will take place next month. More than 700 theaters across the country will welcome Big back into cinemas on July 15 and July 18, with 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. screenings on both days.

Though the role of Josh Baskin—a teenager who magically gets his wish to be a grown-up, with both hilarious and dramatic complications—seemed tailor-made for Hanks and his talents, the production wasn’t all smooth sailing. Originally, Steven Spielberg (whose sister co-wrote the script with Gary Ross) was attached to direct, with Harrison Ford in the lead. When Penny Marshall came on board, Hanks was her first choice, but he passed on the part (as did Kevin Costner, Warren Beatty, Albert Brooks, and a string of other in-demand actors). Robert De Niro was attached for a time, but that eventually fell apart, too.

Fortunately, the project came full circle and Hanks was eventually convinced to come aboard. He earned his first of five (and counting) Best Actor Oscar nominations for the role.

Visit the Fathom Events website to find out if Big is coming (back) to a theater near you

[h/t: Entertainment Weekly]

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Columbia Pictures
10 Fun Facts About Can’t Hardly Wait
Columbia Pictures
Columbia Pictures

When the teen film Can’t Hardly Wait—which was named after the Replacements song of the same name—arrived in theaters on June 12, 1998, it grossed $25,605,015 on a $10 million budget. In the 20 years since, the movie has found an even larger audience through DVD and cable. The premise follows Preston Meyers (Empire Records’s Ethan Embry) trying to connect with his dream girl, Amanda Beckett (Jennifer Love Hewitt), all the while seeking advice from his best friend, Denise Fleming (a pre-Six Feet Under Lauren Ambrose).

Originally called The Party, most of the movie takes place during a rambunctious graduation party, featuring a before-they-were-famous cast, and Jenna Elfman as a stripper dressed as an angel. The movie culminates with Preston and Amanda sealing their romance and living happily ever after. Written and directed by Harry Elfont and Deborah Kaplan, the two would later team up for Josie and the Pussycats. Here are 10 fun-filled facts about the ’90s teen comedy.

1. THE PLOT WAS BASED ON LOGISTICS.

Can't Hardly Wait was Harry Elfont and Deborah Kaplan’s directorial debut, so they liked the idea of having a self-contained and low-budget story to direct. “It was all practical,” Elfont told TIME. “The idea of doing a movie set at a party came first, because it seemed like it would be really cheap to shoot a movie in one location. Then we thought, what hasn’t been done? Nobody’s really done a high-school movie in a while. So we kind of fell into it that way. It was kind of an accident.”

2. SEVERAL SCENES IN THE FILM WERE CHANGED TO AVOID AN R RATING.

A year before the raunchy American Pie was released and jumpstarted R-rated teen films, Can’t Hardly Wait got watered down to get a PG-13 rating. Sony had issues with the underage drinking, and the fact there was no parental supervision at the party. “Well, who would have a high school party and have your parents there?!” Hewitt asked the Los Angeles Times. Seth Green, who played the virginal Kenny Fisher in the movie, gave a rundown of deleted or altered scenes, to Vulture.

“When [Jennifer] Love [Hewitt] first walks into the party, there’s a kid behind her holding a balloon and covering his mouth,” he said. “That used to be a beer bong, but the most expensive CG in the movie was [used] to make it [look] like that kid was smiling and holding a balloon. And then, there’s a scene where Charlie [Korsmo] and Peter [Facinelli] are at the piano. They toast, and then they cut to a wide shot where neither of them are drinking and then cut back to a close-up of them putting their glasses down because you can’t show the kids drinking.”

3. ETHAN EMBRY FORCED HIS WAY INTO PLAYING THE LEAD.

“It had been a while that I had the opportunity to play the ‘guy that gets the girl,’” Embry told VH1. “I had done those roles when I was a lot younger and this was the first time that someone would see me as a lead.” After Embry auditioned for the movie, he got offered the William Lichter part, which eventually went to Charlie Korsmo. But Embry turned the supporting part down. “I wanted to play the guy who gets the girl. That was sort of the driving thing.”

4. MELISSA JOAN HART AND JENNIFER LOVE HEWITT GOT “HIGH” ON B12 VITAMINS.

Hart purposefully chose the small role of the manic Yearbook Girl, as she was working full-time on Sabrina the Teenage Witch and couldn’t fit in a bigger part. While filming a night scene with Hewitt, Hart took B12 vitamins to stay energized, and offered them to a skeptical Hewitt, who thought the vitamins were drugs. “I finally convinced her it’s a vitamin, you can do it,” Hart told TV Guide. “So we took B12 vitamins, and then there was an owl in the tree. [Hewitt] was like, ‘See I’m high now, because there’s not really an owl in the tree.’ We were having these silly night giggles and just attributing it to B12 vitamins.”

5. JASON SEGEL HAD A CAMEO.

The actor was a year away from starring on Freaks and Geeks and seven from How I Met Your Mother when he signed on to play Watermelon Guy. Kaplan and Elfont recognized his talent immediately. “We knew how funny Jason was but there wasn’t a bigger part for him, so we were, like, let’s cast him as this watermelon guy,” Elfont told TIME.

Many other actors either got their start in the movie or became more famous as a result, including Lauren Ambrose and Freddy Rodriguez (both from Six Feet Under), Clea DuVall, Selma Blair, and Sean Patrick Thomas. “Everyone in that age range came in to read because there were no other jobs,” Kaplan told TIME. “That whole crop of people who turned out to be so talented and do so well for themselves afterward were in our movie literally, I think, because there was nothing else for them to do.”

6. EMBRY DOESN’T REMEMBER MUCH ABOUT THE SHOOT.

Embry admitted to VH1 to being “the world’s biggest stoner” while making the film. “Nothing sticks out because I was so stoned the entire time,” he said. He also confessed, “I haven’t seen the movie all the way through ... I never read the script.”

One thing he did remember, though, was the only scene he filmed with Hewitt, at the end of the movie. Before their characters kissed at the train station, Hewitt—knowing he smoked—had a basket of breath mints sent to Embry’s trailer. “And there was a basket of breath mints, you know? Like real pretty,” he said. “Like almost you give somebody flowers or a fruit basket but she gave me 50 breath mints. And it’s all different types. It was all very sweet. And that always makes me laugh thinking of that. Aww, Jennifer wanted me to smell good.” Embry took advantage of the gift and popped some breath mints into his mouth before filming. “They were rather nice cottonmouth alleviators,” he said during a Reddit AMA.

7. EMBRY DOESN’T KNOW—OR CARE—WHAT HIS CHARACTER'S LETTER SAID.

Early on at the party, Amanda finds and reads Preston’s letter and spends the rest of the film trying to find him. It must’ve been a powerful letter, because it finally brings them together at the end. “It was a prop! It was an envelope,” he told VH1. “I think I remember the directors asking me if I knew what was in there. It was a prop. It doesn’t matter. Like I know what’s in there? It’s called acting.”

8. THE CAST WOULD LOVE TO DO A SEQUEL.

In 2015, some of the cast reunited at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery for a screening of the film. Hewitt tweeted: “Can’t Hardly Wait reunion movie anyone? Let’s get them to make it!” In a 2013 interview with VH1, Embry was tepid about a sequel. “Maybe if they paid me more than last time,” he said about a second one. “[He and Amanda] would have to not be together anymore. Amanda and him had a horrible breakup and there were kids involved. He drinks himself silly over a typewriter. I’d make that sequel.” But in a 2015 interview with The Huffington Post, Embry changed his tune. “Of course I would be thrilled to work with any of the players involved again,” he said. “If all the stars aligned, I would be happy to entertain that possibility.”

Peter Facinelli, who played Amanda’s ex-boyfriend Mike Dexter, told IFC his thoughts on a sequel. “You know how the whole movie takes place at the high school party? We could have the whole movie take place at the reunion. I thought it’d be a fun movie.”

9. PETER FACINELLI THINKS MIKE DEXTER TURNED INTO A LOSER.

If a sequel did occur, Facinelli has an idea about what happened to Mike. “Now he’s basically the loser,” he told IFC. “The nerd was the loser in the first movie. Now he’s like the loser and then he kind of climbs back and gets back on his horse. And the nerdy kid is now the Bill Gates who is kind of like the Mike Dexter, bossing everyone around. I think [Dexter’s] just literally a loser. He’s filled with self-doubt and he would basically rise to self-confidence again and come back on top.”

10. EMBRY THINKS PRESTON AND AMANDA ENDED UP WITH WEIRD JOBS.

VH1 asked Embry where he thinks the characters would be today, and he said: “She’s j*rking off dudes in Vancouver, and he’s making horror movies in upstate New York.”

Elfont took a more serious approach to the question, for TIME. “[The on-screen text at the end of the movie] says they’re still together,” Elfont said. “Who am I to argue?”

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