Police Academy
Review By: Gringo

I've just seen Police Academy VII: Mission To Moscow for the first time, having actually mustered the strength to get out of the house and travel to the video store. Sure, I could have chosen something funny or intelligent, but the cover of the video with Captain Lassard and his cohorts pulling strange faces was far too enticing. With a hypnotic glaze bordering which must have made me look mentally questionable, I handed over a small amount of cash in exchange for the potential viewing time of my life. But more about those wacky cops and their Russian fun later. After watching the seventh visit to the academy, I started getting flashbacks to the pain endured watching the six other movies. Scenes came to me like excruciatingly agonizing visions, trying to win me poorly written jokes. I needed revenge. I wanted to finally exorcise the demon of Police Academy from my soul and forget about the movies for the rest of my life. So here is my send off to the series, a bitter summary of all seven movies.

Police Academy. The first movie is just as bad as the rest. It's the one I remember least, but I wholeheartedly refuse to watch it to refresh my memory. Introduced were the big-breasted, no-nonsense and frighteningly butch female recruit Callahan (Leslie Easterbrook), a big tall man who said little (Bubba Smith), someone who made the most self-satisfied stupid 'comedy' noises I've ever heard (Michael Winslow), a person who accidentally wandered into a gay bar with his commanding Officer in every single Police Academy movie (Procter, played by Lance Kinsey) and just to round off the collection, yet another irritating character (Steve Guttenburg). I'm leaving David Graf, who played near-psychotic Tackleberry, off my list of hate for the simple fact that he went on to do much better things after the series which I quite respect, especially in The West Wing, before he sadly had a heart attack. But everyone else involved with the series is open for abuse, because Police Academy was the pinnacle of their careers.

Now, if companies make just one bad movie, I can normally understand it. Sure, a comedy about a bunch of wacky police recruits has some potential. Not a lot, but it's got some. However, that potential was urinated all over from a great height by the writers of this original movie and instead decided to create a cinematic monster that would interfere with audience's viewing enjoyment for a large part of the eighties. I don't remember the plot of the first in the series very well, but what I do remember is that it was almost as unfunny and over-long as the six movies that followed. Read that again. Six movies. Six. Not one, not even two to make a trilogy. No, they had to go and make six more Police Academy movies. Some people must actually have sat down in an office...well, more like a grim diner...somewhere in Los Angeles and thought it over. Someone present probably said to the others "Hey, guys" (because this is how all Hollywood producers speak) "Hey, I had a gosh darn great time making Police Academy, and it's netted all of ten dollars! Gee, let's make another, huh?". No doubt the other moon-faced clowns sat with him all nodded and rushed to green-light a return to the academy.

Police Academy 2: Their First Assignment. A return is exactly what was created. A return to the shite jokes and poor production values of the original, only this time it was done deliberately. This despicable waste of celluloid negated any excuse about the original Police Academy being a one-off mistake. If this is meant to be their first ever assignment, then what the hell was the point of the however-many-minutes of pain the story in the first movie lasted for? Or did they mean to call this Police Academy: Their Second Assignment but not have enough money left to amend the posters and direct-to-video covers? It's a bad movie, plain and simple. I'd like to stop talking about it now, because it's too painful an experience to recall without my eyes welling up with tears, my fists clenching in rage and a few faces going unbeaten. With the optional extra of taking a shovel to some of those faces.

However, the second movie in the series deserves a mention because Bobcat Goldthwait plays a major role as the bad guy. A mention in the sense of standing up, hand covering mouth to suppress the mocking laughter whilst you gleefully point in the general direction of his face. Goldthwait somehow got involved with the Police Academy series, I'm sure through no fault of his own. He played Zed in a couple of the movies. Zed bizarrely acted just like Goldthwait's comedy routine, screeching and shouting. How's that for coincidence? Zed starts out the bad guy, leading a rough and ready team of misfits, whose biggest crimes seem to be joyriding with eighty year-old women and having a hideout, built in a disused zoo. This movie was also responsible for introducing the character of Sweetchuck (Tim Kazurinsky) a little nerd who owns some kind of glass shop, but more of him in a paragraph's time.

Police Academy 3: Back In Training. I imagine the pre-production for the third movie in the series went something along the lines of Mr. Producer clutching a wad of cash and saying "Hey, Steve Guttenburg, the first two movies were really crud. Nobody laughed - and nobody went to see them. Want to make another?". Evidently, Guttenburg was more than willing to prance around like a happy clown for another Police Academy movie. But here's the twist - all the cops are back! In training! And that's more or less it. Minute after minute of lame jokes, bad comic timing, pathetic characters and even less plot development just add up to repeat the misery for a third time. Sadly, all the regulars are back in training, meaning that we get to see them repeat the same jokes as in the first two movies.

Mr. Sweetchuck also joins the training program, as does a reformed Zed, letting the homosexual relationship between them flourish, with poor Mr. Sweetchuck no doubt demoted to the position of being Zed's man-bitch. Sweetchuck was obviously meant to be comic relief from the misery of the main plot, but every single scene he was in involved him getting beaten up or shouted at by Zed. Such classy humour! Revenge is a dish best served up with poor acting roles, and I can reveal that Mr. Kazurinsky - who brought so much to the role, but didn't share it with the audience - went on to star as Walter Dalrymple in Early Edition and Sidney Rimhollow in Married...With Children.

Police Academy 4: Citizens On Patrol. I remember this movie primarily for the bizarre cross between Village People and bad rap that was the main song. As well as the standard Police Academy march theme, the audience were also treated to some nameless, talentless group chanting "Huh! Citizens on patrol!" far too often. The only other thing I remember about the fourth movie is the prescence of a toothless old grandma character who enrolls at the academy. I'm sure that every scene she was in involved her slapping her thighs and saying "Hot dawg, we's is gonna gets some bad guys!". The story as it was involved idiots from the community joining the police force. Hey, we didn't see that one in Police Academy 1 to 3! Let's just put the script in the Repeat-O-Matic and watch it all again!

There is one positive aspect; it was the last Police Academy movie Steve Guttenburg made, so the next three promised less suffering. But did they deliver on that promise? No. The end scenes revolved around some bizarre hot air balloon chase, which also included some fancy flying in an old airplane by Zed and his love slave Sweetchuck. I never understood why the writers didn't try something new - ever. The plot of a Police Academy movie loosely followed five steps; (1) unfunny opening gag, (2) unfunny repeated jokes with old characters, (3) unfunny jokes with new characters, (4) unfunny jokes and lastly (5) unfunny chase scene at the end. It was the same formula in every single movie. A trend that was to continue in the fifth movie. If you've already had chases across land, sea and air in whichever county Police Academy was set, where next? Why, Miami of course!

Police Academy 5: Assignment: Miami Beach. Oh, come on. For fuck's sake, even Steve Guttenburg had realised just how terrible the movies were and avoided this one like the plague. Mind you, considering he closed the fourth movie flying in a hot air balloon with Sharon Stone, there's a high possibility he's still up there. If you ever hear a whiny voice shouting "Let me down! I need to make another movie! I can't meet my mortgage payments!" from high above then it's a safe bet the Guttenburg balloon is passing through. Just do me and the rest of the movie-going world a favour and just ignore it, letting it drift on to the next city. Anyway, they drafted in an equally irritating actor as Eric, Lassard's nephew. And the family resemblance is stunning; they both have cold, dead eyes and deliver supposedly funny lines with such pathetic comic timing you'd think they had full frontal lobotomies. Everyone else continues to do their same old tired acts; being butch, being weak, being a geek, being irritating. That's police staff Callahan, Hooks, Sweetchuck and, oh, the entire academy respectively.

But of course, this being common sense land there's no real use for the academy in this movie. Instead, we get many highly colourised shots of Miami Beach, and a horrific shot of Procter's naked backside as he walks out of the sea towards the beach. Run! This six-foot butt poison beast will devour us all! The guy who played Lassard's nephew was a smug-looking actor. Oh, and Proctor and Captain Harris manage to walk into a gay bar, wearing their police outfits, doing the tango with leathered-up buff guys who all have moustaches. Again! I bet you never saw that one coming! Oh no! Not even the fact that the bar was called The Blue Oyster, just as it was in every other Police Academy movie. And strangely it looked exactly the same. Amazing!

Police Academy 6: City Under Siege. What the hell? A fifth movie wasn't enough? No, it quite clearly wasn't. Despite the fact that the police academy's visit to Miami probably didn't gross a single dollar, some crack-headed clown thought it would be a great idea for yet another visit to the home of strange policeman and failed actors. The plot as it was revolved around Mr. Big (oh, the thought they put into it) and his crime spree throughout the city in which Police Academy was set. For some reason, they never named this city. Probably to spare wherever it was filmed the indignity of a billboard on the city limits proclaiming "Home of the Police Academy movies!" which would be one of the most tempting graffiti or general destruction sites I can possibly imagine. Tempted to see this movie? Don't be, I'll spoil it for you right now. The Mayor did it; he was Mr. Big. Like a bad Scooby Doo episode, the movie left him as the only possible suspect barring a well-written plot twist. But the writers were too busy getting their stupidity injections for the script to be any good.

I still can't come to terms with the fact I've watched all seven Police Academy movies. I feel my shame inside me like a knife. City Under Siege is without doubt the worst of the series, but that's not much of a distinction from the six other movies. It's amazing that the producers and writers of the series actually sat down and thought round after round of policeman Jones doing silly voices would be good. Whilst there are many cult movies out there with the cliché of being "so bad they're good", Police Academy doesn't qualify. It doesn't even come close. It's so far off qualifying that it's still sitting in Mr. Kimble's kindergarten class struggling to figure out how to use the circular paper and blunt scissors. The only positive aspect of the series is that it inspired many, many more Academy movies - which were mostly infinitely better because the makes of Police Academy had nothing to do with them. Combat and Ninja Academy were both in their own unique ways better than any of the Police Academy movies. Even Mortuary Academy was better.

Police Academy VII: Mission To Moscow. What I love about this movie - the hopefully last Police Academy movie - is the way that practically the entire original cast from most of the series (minus Mr. Guttenburg, currently soaring over Nebraska) made it back. It's hilarious to see the looks on their faces, as if they're all saying "Oh damn. My career's shot to hell anyway. Might as well wipe my backside with my resume some more". Christopher Lee's in this movie, but he permanently looks really confused. I'm betting he was meant to be shooting some other movie in Russia at the same time, and made a mistake, arriving at the Mission To Moscow set. After about three days he was probably thinking "What the hell? This isn't the script I agreed to!" but by then it would have been too late. The likes of Bubba Smith and Michael Winslow would have won him over with their painfully unfunny acting.

Additionally, the producers decided to change the number of this movie from the regular 7 to Roman numerals. This was probably to mask the fact that they'd made far too many of the damn things, and wanted to prevent some slack-jawed yokels catching on to this fact. Those crafty Hollywood types! Sticking fancy numbers on a movie title! Always one step ahead! I despise the Police Academy movies, I truly do. Far too much money was spent on the big chase scenes rather then getting a script doctor in to revive the ailing waste of eighty-or-so pages that each movie's script evidently became. With the notable exception of Sharon Stone and the aforementioned David Graf, hardly a single actor or actress involved with the series has gone on to better things. Lance Kinsey? Made a movie called Honeymoon Academy. Michael Winslow? Police Academy: The TV Series. Leslie Easterbrook? Went nowhere fast. Steve Guttenburg? Trapped in a balloon.

I'm not going to write a full review of the seventh movie, because that would simply leave me with the burden of doing the same for the six other pieces of cinematic crap. I hate Police Academy in a way that I hate no other movie series. I hate other individual movies more, but as a series this collection of misfires and wasted celluloid tops my list. A lifetime of Friday The 13th sequels would be bliss. Forty-eight hours exposed to every single Land Before Time movie I could cope with. I could even sit through most of the Nightmare On Elm street series. But I genuinely can't watch another minute of any Police Academy movie ever again. Essentially, for the simple fact that those actors agreed to make the Police Academy movies - even after reading the scripts - I believe that they brought their fate on themselves. There's an interview with Bobcat Goldthwait (who as I mentioned screeched his way through a couple of these movies) in which he says he couldn't even get a part in Down Periscope because the casting woman said "We don't want Police Academy people". If that doesn't tell you everything you need to know about the Police Academy series, nothing will.

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