Just so you know, you all have the Lavalantula movies to blame for my owning these next couple of movies. See, when I watched Lavalantula two years ago, one of the main draws for the movie was the fact that it was something of an impromptu reunion of several members from the Police Academy movies. When the sequel came out, I found myself having the urge to rewatch the Police Academy movie. As you can see, I decided to make sure they were some of the movies I bought after Christmas. So let’s start off the laughs with today’s movie, Police Academy.
The plot: On March 4th, newly elected Mayor Mary Sue Beal opened up the hiring requirements for the city’s police force, allowing more people who had never considered joining the police force to sign up, though many police officers did not agree with the mayor’s new policy. Among the people who sign up are Eugene Tackleberry, a gun enthused security guard and military veteran, and Leslie Barbara, an overweight photo developing booth attendant who is tired of being picked on by a gang of thugs. Carey Mahoney is a parking lot attendant who gets arrested after damaging an arrogant customer’s car. At the station, Mahoney is waiting to speak with Captain Reed and meets Larvell Jones, who was arrested for disturbing the peace due to his ability to make various sound effects. Captain Reed, who continuously kept Mahoney out of serious trouble due to his being friends with Mahoney’s father, who was a former cop, and says that this time Mahoney is going to county lock-up unless he joins the police academy and, with no option available, agrees to it and convinces Reed to let Jones come as well. At the academy, Henry Hurst, the Chief of Police, is not happy with the mayor’s new proposal and tells Commandant Eric Lassard, who is in charge of the academy, that he wants them to make the training as brutal as possible in order to get the new cadets to drop out and Lt. Thaddeus Harris readily agrees to do so, though Lassard actually likes the new program. When Mahoney and Jones arrive at the academy, they meet some of the other recruits including George Martin, a ladies man, Doug Fackler, a married man who tends to cause accidents to those near him, Karen Thompson, a wealthy socialite, Laverne Hooks, a soft-spoken African American woman, Moses Hightower, a tall, gentle African American man with surprising strength, and Kyle Blankes and Chad Copeland, two suck-ups that try to impress Hurst and Harris. Right off the bat, Mahoney tries to get himself kicked out, first by telling Barbara that he could pick up his uniform at the Commandant’s house, then impersonates one of the instructors to try and hit on Thompson but ends up getting on Harris’ bad boy. Meanwhile, Harris assigns Blankes and Copeland as squad leaders and tells them to let him know if anyone gets out of line, then assigns them to oversee Mahoney’s punishment that night. Meanwhile, Martin manages to sneak into the women’s dorm to fool around with some of the girls, unaware that Sgt. Callahan, one of the instructors, sees him doing this. As the training continues, Mahoney goes to see Lassard about getting kicked out but Lassard tells him that he promised Reed he would keep Mahoney there for the full 14 weeks so barring a supremely egregious infraction, Mahoney is stuck there. Mahoney continues to irritate Harris and he decides to call Reed and have Mahoney ask to be able to leave but Mahoney, having fallen for Thompson, doesn’t go through with it. As the cadets are given a weekend break, Harris tells Blankes and Copeland to keep an eye on them as he knows they will be throwing a party. The two squad leaders pick on Barbara to get him to find out where the party is so Barbara asks Mahoney. Mahoney, realizing Barbara is being forced to do tells him it is at a bar called the Blue Oyster but when Blankes and Copeland show up, they realize that it is a gay bar and end up forced to dance with the patrons all night. Meanwhile, the actual party is held at a nearby beach and Mahoney and Thompson end up wandering off to fool around by themselves. As everyone returns to the academy, Martin sneaks back into the girls dorm but ends up knocking on Callahan’s door and tries to quickly leave but she orders him back inside, calling him out for sneaking into the dorms for weeks before she throws him on the bed and proceeds to ravish him all night. Blankes and Copeland tell Barbara that they are going to get back at him for sending them to the wrong place for the party and when Harris and Callahan go to do room inspections, Barbara finds a hooker waiting in his bed. Barbara goes to Mahoney for help and Mahoney is able to sneak the hooker out of the dorm but before he can get her off of the academy grounds, they are forced to hide in a podium as Lassard leads some other police commandants around the academy before giving a presentation. During the presentation, the hooker proceeds to give Lassard a blow job and as he dismisses the attendees for lunch, he starts to leave but notices Mahoney ducking his head out of the podium and thinks he was the one to do it. Lassard heads to his office to find Harris there and asks what he is doing about Mahoney but when Harris asks what Mahoney did, Lassard refuses to say. Meanwhile, the training continues and the recruits are able to overcome some of the obstacles that they couldn’t when they first started. When the recruits are allowed to ride along with actual officers, Harris has Mahoney ride with him, but then has Mahoney get out of the car and jog behind it as Harris drives off. Later, Harris and Mahoney end up stuck in a traffic jam, Harris gets impatient and commandeers a dirt bike to find out what is going on but ends up losing control and getting his head stuck in a horse’s rear, causing the cadets, and Callahan, to laugh behind his back when he returns. That night, Hightower comes to see Mahoney and explains that he hasn’t driven a car since he was 12 and he won’t be able to pass the driving test in the morning. Mahoney agrees to help him and they steal Copeland’s car, with Hightower ripping out the front seat as he is too big to fit behind the wheel. The start off driving slow but after Hightower starts to get the hang of it, he begins driving faster and is forced to run from the police. The late night adventure worked and he easily passed his test and thanks Mahoney for his help. Hooks takes her test next but when she pulls up to let Copeland take his test, she accidentally runs over his feet. Copeland yells at her and calls her a racial slur, which angers Hightower and he proceeds to flip the car over with Copeland inside it and Harris expels him from the Academy. Blankes and Copeland find what is left of Copeland’s car and blame Mahoney for it and try to pick a fight with him in order to get him kicked out of the acadmey but Barbara uses his lunch tray to knock out Copeland, then Mahoney attacks Blankes after Blankes punches Barbara. Blankes and Mahoney are brought to Harris’ office and he asks who through the first punch and Blankes says Barbara. Harris says that he is expelled but Mahoney, knowing how much Barbara wanted to be a cop, says he did it and Harris gleefully kicks Mahoney out instead. Meanwhile, Facker accidentally causes a riot to start downtown and the cadets are assembled to help the police deal with the situation, and Mahoney dresses in his riot gear and sneaks onto the bus with the others. Lassard accidentally sends them to the heart of the riot zone and after Harris sends everybody to their assigned areas, he is told of the mix-up. Mahoney, Jones, and Martin are chased by a mob and take shelter in Lassard’s car when he pulls up and Jones uses the car’s PA system to chase them off by mimicking gunfire. Blankes and Copeland are taunting some thug on the other side of a chain link fence but when they come to a break in the fence, the leader of the men grabs their revolvers and the two cadets run and end up hiding in the Blue Oyster bar, much to their own horror. Barbara is also chased by some thugs and ends up running past Harris and Harris is captured by the man who took Blankes and Copeland’s guns. Barbara ends up running into the gang that bullied him as they are removing furniture from an apartment and when they try to make him leave, he ends up defending himself and knocks them all down, telling them to put the furniture back but they tell him it is their furniture. As Callahan tries to get in touch with Harris, Thompson, Hooks, and Facker show up when they suddenly begin taking fire and Thompson is pinned down. Mahoney and the others hear the gun shots and see the man using Harris as a shield so Mahoney runs off to try and find a way onto the roof where the shooter is. When he gets there, he manages to get the drop on the shooter and yells for Thompson to run to safety but the shooter puts his gun to Harris’ head and Mahoney is forced to drop his gun. The shooter pushes both of them against the wall and he plans on killing them when Hightower appears and says he wants to watch. The shooter allows Hightower to pick which one he shoots first and when he goes to look them over, Hightower chooses Harris but as the shooter prepares to kill Harris, Hightower punches the man, sending him flying through a door and down some stairs. Hightower grabs the guns the man dropped and hands them to Harris, noting Blankes and Copeland’s names written on the handles. Meanwhile, the shooter recovers and moves to grab another gun he had when he is confronted by Hooks, who yells at him not to move. Hightower and Mahoney are both reinstated into the academy and during the graduation ceremony, Lassard awards them both the highest commendation the academy can offer. Hightower and Mahoney both go to the podium to say a few words and when it is Mahoney’s turn, he starts to talk when suddenly, he feels the zipper of his pants being pulled down and looking down for a second, he quickly looks over at Lassard, who looks away with a grin on his face. Later, the new officers parade past the stage and salute Lassard, Harris, Hurst, and the other guests and Harris reluctantly offers a salute in return.
Police Academy met with mixed to poor results, holding a 41% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. While there isn’t a critical consensus on the site, the critics several critics enjoyed the comedy but many cited the humor as being too sophomoric. The movie was a box office smash, earning $146 million off of a $4.5 million budget. Due to it’s popularity, it wound up spawning 6 sequels, as well as a live action and animated TV series.
This is one of those movies that I know is not a good movie in the critical sense, but I have always found funny. The acting was good, with Steve Guttenberg (Mahoney), Bubba Smith (Hightower), and G.W. Bailey (Harris) doing great jobs, while Michael Winslow (Jones) was comedic gold with his sound effects. The story was interesting and did a pretty good job of splitting between comedy and more serious themes, while also showcasing a fair amount of character development, particularly with Mahoney, Hightower, and Barbara (Donovan Scott). The comedy was admittedly a little hit or miss at times, with some things that I found funny as a kid no longer being as funny, while some of the subtler comedy parts were even funnier now. All in all, this is a great movie for some nostalgia viewing, but might not necessarily be for everyone.
Rating: 3 out of 5