Depending on who you talk to, this is pretty much the turning point of the series. I mean, this would be Steve Guttenberg’s last appearance as Mahoney, as well as the last time that some of the iconic locations from the series would be shown, such as the Blue Oyster bar. However, I didn’t know any of this when I first saw this movie. All I knew was that another Police Academy movie was coming out and that I would most likely be laughing as I watched it. Man was I easily amused as a kid. Well, let’s see what happens today with today’s movie, Police Academy 4: Citizens On Patrol.
The plot: Commandant Lassard calls a meeting and Mahoney, Jones, Hightower, Callahan, Tackleberry, Hooks, and Sweetchuck attend. While practicing his golf swing, and inadvertently hitting Sweetchuck in the crotch at one point, Lassard begins to tell them about his new community program, Citizens On Patrol, where citizens will be trained in police detecting skills in order to help spot potential crimes and alert the police to them. Hightower suggests going to their old neighborhoods to recruit people and Lassard says it is a wonderful idea, and says that he will be unveiling the program at the international police seminar, just as Zed walks in and catches Lassard’s errant golf ball in his mouth. Meanwhile, Captain Harris is at his precinct and complains to Commissioner Hurst about Lassard’s program but Hurst tells him that the governor and mayor both like the idea so he has to deal with it. As the recruiting drive commences, two teenagers, Kyle and Arnie, are warned by Sgt. Copeland about skateboarding but after he drives off, they meet up with their friends and head to the mall. While Arnie is watching some people do tricks outside, Kyle heads inside the mall and is skaetboarding around when Copeland catches him. Copeland accidentally pushes Kyle into a judge and while Copeland goes to help him, Kyle uses the opportunity to run and gets Arnie as he leaves. Copeland heads to the precinct to tell Harris, who organizes a search for the two teens and manages to chase them into the lecture hall, where Mahoney and the others are speaking about the program. Harris finally catches the two teens and at court, the judge sentencing them happens to be the one Kyle was pushed into and he finds them guilty. Mahoney approaches the bench and asks that the judge have them enroll into the C.O.P. program as a form of alternate punishment and the judge agrees, though Harris objects. Elsewhere, Tackleberry and Callahan head to a retirement home to speak with Mrs. Feldman, who had expressed interest in the program, and while Callahan finds herself fending off some of the horny seniors, Tackleberry forms a friendship with Mrs. Feldman over their shared love of the military and firearms. As the citizens arrive at the academy, Lassard greets them all and welcomes them to the program. Hurst then tells them that since Lassard is attending the seminar, he has assigned a seasoned veteran to oversee the program and everyone is surprised when Harris and Proctor show up. On the first day, Harris reads the prepared welcome from Lassard, then tells the assembled group that he believes this to be a mistake and says they should all go home. When Hightower’s dog Clarence nuzzles Harris’ crotch, Harris yells at Hightower to get rid of the dog and storms off, but Hightower refuses to get rid of Clarence and Claire Mattson, a reporter that is covering the program, offers to take her and Mahoney starts flirting with her. As the training commences, Harris continues to show his disdain for the program and Mahoney and the others strike back by pulling pranks on him, such as switching his deodorant with mace or substituting helium for oxygen when he is trying to demonstrate how to administer oxygen. When Mahoney and some of the others are playing a friendly game of basketball with some people in the community, Proctor sees them and says they are just goofing off and plans to tell Harris but when he stops to use a port-a-potty, Mahoney has a construction crew help him and, using a crane, has the port-a-potty moved to a football field, where Proctor ends up being seen by everyone. Kyle, Arnie, and Tommy “House” Conklin are constantly slacking off and joke about being ready for real police work. Jones overhears them talking and so Mahoney and Jones wake them in the middle of the night and say they are going with them to arrest a fugitive. Telling them to wait in an alley, Mahoney and Jones head inside a building, then Jones fakes some gunfire and a choked scream, which causes Kyle, Arnie, and House to duck for cover in the trash. Mahoney and Jones see all this and after laughing at the three teens, they yell out that they are coming down. Mahoney and Jones exit the building with a large man carrying a body bag and tell the three teens that they will be riding in the back with Medula, a voodoo practitioner, and his late brother. As they are riding to the precinct, Medula begins chanting and Jones tells them not to worry about it. Suddenly, Medula snaps his restraints and begins sprinkling something on the body bag. Mahoney and Jones pretend to leave the car to get some food and as Medula continues chanting, Kyle and Arnie try to leave out of the back of the van. Suddenly, Medula starts laughing as a chainsaw suddenly starts up inside the bag and begins cutting it away to reveal a crazed man in a red goalie mask. House yells out and breaks open the van door and the three teens start running back to the academy, as it is revealed that Hightower and Tackleberry were pretending to be Medula and his brother. The next day, a party is thrown at the academy and when Harris finds out, he starts yelling at everyone, particularly Zed, who ends up being comforted by Laura, a C.O.P. recruit that happens to like him. Meanwhile, Hurst heads to the seminar to extend an invitation to the guest there to come to the city and see the C.O.P. program for themselves and the delegates quickly accept. Back in the states, the C.O.P. recruits are let out on the streets and Mrs. Feldman, Laura, and Butterworth (Kyle and Arnie’s lawyer who decided to join the program) spot a fencing operation and break it up, only to realize that it was actually an undercover police operation. Due to the incident, the C.O.P. program is suspended, just as Lassard, Hurst, and the delegates arrive. Harris decides to show the delegates his precinct and when Proctor goes to check on the prisoners, he finds them engaging in a game of Simon Says. Proctor gets tricked into playing as well and the prisoners manage to grab his gun and they escape, locking Harris, Hurst, and the delegates inside the cells. As the prisoners race out of the precinct, Mrs. Feldman sees them and radios it in, then tells Tackleberry to pick her up. They see one of the stolen police cars outside a bank and Tackleberry heads inside to catch the crooks but they get the drop on him. Mrs. Feldman ends up crashing the motorcycle through the glass to rescue Tackleberry and he arrests the crooks. Callahan and Nogata, who were interrupted during their reunion by the news of the jail break, spy a member of a ninja gang at the docks and go after him and find themselves surrounded. Jones shows up to help them and the three are able to defeat the ninjas, with Lassard knocking out the last one. Mahoney and Claire see the last of the crooks heading towards an airshow and when the crooks take off in a biplane and a hot air balloon, Claire leads him to a biplane and she flies after them. Tackleberry, Sweetchuck, and Zed grab another plane and chase after them as well, as do Harris and Proctor in a hot air balloon. When Proctor fires a warning shot at the criminals, he ends up deflating their balloon and he and Harris fall into the river but they are rescued by House, Kyle, Arnie, and Butterworth. Tackleberry approaches the crooks in the plane, then jumps out of it and lands on the balloon, taking the crooks captive while Zed and Sweetchuck are left to pilot the plane. Mahoney has Claire pilot their plane closer to the crooks’ plane and he manages to climb onto the wing and reach the cockpit and, thanks to Zed and Sweetchuck’s losing control of their plane, get the drop on the pilot and force him to land. Meanwhile, Zed and Sweetchuck end up falling out of the plane and use Zed’s parachute to land safely, where they begin attacking each other. As Lassard and the others all arrive, the C.O.P. program is hailed as a success and Lassard wants to thank Mahoney but they see him riding off in a hot air balloon with Claire.
Police Academy 4: Citizens On Patrol was absolutely panned by the critics, holding a 0% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Utterly, completely, thoroughly and astonishingly unfunny, Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol sends a once-innocuous franchise plummeting to agonizing new depths. Despite the fact that every movie in the series met with negative reviews from the critics, this is the only movie to receive a Razzie nomination; which was for Worst Song but it wound up losing to “I Want Your Sex” from Beverly Hills Cop II. Police Academy 4: Citizens On Patrol would debut at # 1 at the box office and end up making just over $28 million during it’s run.
While it was funny as a kid, some of the humor did not survive the aging process. The acting was ok but nobody really stood out and at times, the characters just felt stale. The story was good, and I liked the idea of showcasing average citizens helping to alert police of crimes in the area, but again, some of the jokes they used just seemed forced. And even though I loved the pairing of Bobcat Goldthwait and Tim Kazurinsky, they seemed to focus on that too much in this movie, unlike the previous movie where it actually made sense to do so. I will give props to David Graf and his stunt double as the scene with him climbing down the rope from the top of the balloon was pretty intense and I liked the skateboarding scenes at the beginning of the movie (as I did try my hand at that as a kid) but overall, the special effects were a bit of a snooze. The series as a whole has a nice sense of nostalgia but this movie wasn’t really worth the revisit.
Rating: 2 out of 5