“Pitching Tents” serves as an unwelcome reminder of the many second-rate teen-sex comedies that were so obnoxiously ubiquitous at theaters and drive-ins everywhere throughout the 1980s in the wake of “Porky’s.” Indeed, the perpetrators of this throwback flotsam have been so diligent in their efforts to replicate the look, tone and smirk of those instantly forgettable trifles, their movie could almost pass for a thirtysomething-year-old feature only recently recovered from a time capsule. The big giveaway: While some of the genuine articles sporadically earned chuckles with vulgar sight gags and gratuitous nudity, “Pitching Tents” is too timorous to risk being truly offensive.
Michael Grant, who appears to have been cast primarily because of his period-appropriate resemblance to a young Tom Cruise, plays Danny, a small-town high school senior who joins his buddies for an annual rite-of-passage frolic known as Trout Camp. During a long 1984 weekend in the woods, hormonally inflamed guys fish, drink, smoke weed, and search for a legendary site where teen temptresses allegedly skinny-dip. Danny is more sensitive than his peers — he’s a budding artist who really doesn’t want to wind up working alongside his dad at the local metal plant — so, of course, he meets a nice girl (Samantha Basalari) rather than a seductive siren. Every other element of the plot is similarly predictable.
In a desperate attempt to compensate for the lack of wit in the screenplay by Rob Foxx and Jayme Petrille, director Jacob Cooney encourages many of his supporting players — especially Jim Norton as a guidance counselor who fears, with just cause, for his job — to overplay shamelessly. That doesn’t help much.