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CineSchlock-O-Rama
Buffoons in Blue
BY G. NOEL GROSS | May 3, 2004

M O V I E


V I D E O


A U D I O


E X T R A S


R E P L A Y


A D V I C E
Recommended

Steve Guttenberg. Bubba Smith. Bobcat Goldthwait. Ah, the Cops of Comedy. Hard to believe it's indeed time for a 20th anniversary special edition of Police Academy -- let alone a sequel-stuffed box set! As always, so YOU don't have to, yours truly rides along for all SEVEN flicks ...


Movie:
Video: 2.5 Audio: 3
Extras: 3 Replay: 2
Advice: Recommended
In 1970, as a genre, the "institutional comedy" took an austere, savagely satirical bend with the big-screen exploits of Captains Pierce and McIntyre in M*A*S*H. Their small-screen counterparts continued to flout authority, though more palatably so thanks to a 10-year supply of rubber chickens. Flash forward to Animal House where the elder establishment foolishly threatens a tenacious group of collegians' inalienable right to party hearty. Tisk. Tisk. Tisk. Silly geezers! But what's the ultimate authority figure? The iron fist of government? That's right, THE FUZZ! And what if their ranks were infused with the very misfits and miscreants they're sworn to protect society from?

That's precisely what happens when Mayor Mary Sue Beal drops every entrance requirement for the Metropolitan Police Academy. Hundreds of dubious volunteers converge and it's up to Lt. Harris (G.W. Bailey) to weed out the undesirables through a rigorous regime of law enforcement training and a covert campaign of sinister shenanigans. Most hopefuls are undaunted. Then there's a habitual system bucker like Mahoney (Guttenberg) who's only there under threat of jail time and the promising prospect of canoodling with cadet cutie Kim Catrell. Naturally, like moth to flame, Harris becomes the prankified focus of Mahoney's reasonably undivided attention. Well deserved for one whose motivational style favors barking at his heftiest cadet: "I COULD SHOW A MOVIE ON YOUR BUTT, FATSO!!!" Ten bucks says Harris'd choose Full Metal Jacket. Meanwhile George Gaynes plays "good cop" as Commandant Lassard. Both are inspired characterizations, but it's Mr. Gaynes who, ahem, comes closest to comic legend as Lassard delivers an address whilst in receipt of a surprise pistol whipping beneath the podium. A very, very funny fella full of many, many delightfully silly bits.

But let us not overlook Mahoney's core cohorts: Michael Winslow as "Jones" the human sound FX department, Bubba Smith as hulkin' "Hightower," the late David Graf as gun crazed "Tackleberry" and whispering Marion Ramsey as "Hooks." All play profound roles in this time-honored story of inmates who rise up to run the asylum. More impressive, or perhaps disturbing depending on perspective, is that they manned the '80s MOST rapid-fire film franchise! Can't laugh that off.


Lassard multitasks.

Behold the 20-year evolution of the iPod and zany T-shirt.

Wanna guess which of the Village People is their fave?

Tackleberry emotes.

No corpses. 10 breasts. Leg humping. Accidental riot. Gratuitous shower scene (with ogling). Man-friendly mamboing. Implied feline de-treeing with extreme prejudice. Unfortunate "horseplay." Boogie-woogie hiney cam. Fireside frolicking. Rampant gunplay. Racial-slur induced car flip. Chief Hurst seems uneasy with change: "When I went through this academy, every cadet was the right weight, the right height, the right color and they all had JOHNSONS ... every single one of them ... JOHNSONS AS FAR AS THE EYE COULD SEE!!! "

Bonus Materials

Talk about truth in commentaries: "Hello, this is Michael Winslow from Police Academy one through infinity and I could sure use a JOB right about now!" That's easily the best line of the track. Disappointing considering CineSchlockers have been waiting all their digital lives for a STEVE GUTTENBERG commentary and the '80s megastar would hardly register on an EKG let alone the microphone. Maybe he just couldn't get a word in past producer Paul Maslansky, G.W. Bailey (Harris), Leslie Easterbrook (Callahan), Mr. Winslow and director Hugh Wilson. Further weirdness? Well, Mr. Bailey politely says "Tootles!" about an hour in and our director, who's never formally introduced, mysteriously manifests midstream sounding as though he's literally phoning it in or hollering from another room. Nostalgia seekers are far better served by the half-hour reunion "Behind Academy Doors: Secret Files Revealed" featuring a DOZEN luminaries. Even an 86-year-old Commandant Lassard!

Alongside theatrical trailers, the sequels boast similar 8-to-10-minute recollections such as Bob Newhart cohort turned director Peter Bonerz's confessed homages to The Third Man, Saboteur, The Manchurian Candidate and even French auteur Jaques Tati in, of all unlikely venues, Police Academy 6: City Under Seige. Also, Part 4 features 14 minutes of deleted scenes, most notably those featuring the dueling courtship of Sharon Stone.

The Sequels


Movie: 1 of 5 stars
Video: 3 Audio: 3
Extras: 1 Replay: 0
Advice: Rent It

Movie: 2 of 5 stars
Video: 2.5 Audio: 1
Extras: 1 Replay: 1
Advice: Rent It

Movie: 2.5 of 5 stars
Video: 1.5 Audio: 3
Extras: 2 Replay: 2
Advice: Recommended

PA2: THEIR FIRST ASSIGNMENT (1985): Who ya gonna call when Bobcat Goldthwait's goons are wreaking woe and weirdness on the streets? Anybody but you know who! Trouble is, there'd be NO MOVIE otherwise, and in the case of this aimless retread, that might not have been such an awful alternative.

PA3: BACK IN TRAINING (1986): The subtitle could just as easily apply to the franchise itself which begins to rebound by returning to the hallowed and hijinks laden grounds of the academy. The blind truly lead the blind as Lassard's team must mold a NEW cadre of misfits in their own image to ensure the alma moron's tenuous survival.

PA4: CITIZENS ON PATROL (1987): Comes closest to besting the original with three times the buffoonery on the beat -- that's Guttenberg's gang, the second-gen likes of Goldthwait and a fresh gaggle of moonlight vigilantes. Returning to train the latter is G.W. Bailey's inspired schemer after a frightful two-flick hiatus. And he's got plenty to bark about with recruits such as sardonic skate poser David Spade (backed by Tony Hawk's stunt boarding). A steady stream of giggles winds to a climatic, gulp, BALLOON chase!


Movie: 2 of 5 stars
Video: 1.5 Audio: 2.5
Extras: 1 Replay: 1
Advice: Rent It

Movie: 1 of 5 stars
Video: 3 Audio: 3
Extras: 1 Replay: 0
Advice: Rent It

Movie: .5 of 5 stars
Video: 3 Audio: 3
Extras: 1 Replay: 0
Advice: Rent It

PA5: ASSIGNMENT MIAMI BEACH (1988): Florida. Where all weary cop comedies go to bake on the beach before heading heavenward to donut nirvana. Oddly enough, that's dern near the plot! Lassard's suddenly forced to retire, although with parting "Police Officer of the Decade" honors at a Miami cop confluence. This somehow spawns the most gleefully slapstick flick of 'em all.

PA6: CITY UNDER SIEGE (1989): "Operation Chaos" has an unintended double meaning as our haggard heros try to foil rampant robberies foisted by an ever-silhouetted criminal "mastermind." Party's over kiddos.

PA7: MISSION TO MOSCOW (1994): Five years for THIS!?! CineSchlocker fave Ron Perlman's Russki kingpin plots world domination via NINTENDO and all hope of a swift "Game Over" is pinned on Lassard's severely winnowed ranks. That's the great CHRISTOPHER LEE slumming as an ambiguously gay, um, pinko. Salivating over comely commie "Katrina"? Behold Clarie Forlani's taut talents in CIA Trackdown.

Roll Call

Commandant Lassard (George Gaynes)

PA1 PA2 PA3 PA4 PA5 PA6 PA7

Academy's doddering, superlative-spewing honcho is charmingly resilient amid the complete incompetence of his "many, many" beloved cadets. Enjoys indoor golf and is a serial overfeeder of goldfish.
Sgt. Mahoney (Steve Guttenberg)

PA1 PA2 PA3 PA4 PA5 PA6 PA7

Does everything short of chomp on a carrot and snark "What's up, doc?" as the franchise's resident wiseacre. Paw'd Kim Catrell AND Sharon Stone before the whither of their more famous years (PA1 and PA4).
Lt. Hightower (Bubba Smith)

PA1 PA2 PA3 PA4 PA5 PA6 PA7

Former florist keeps the peace via unspoken threat of a 6-foot-7-inch throttling. Earned promotion by rasslin an alligator (PA5).
Capt. Callahan (Leslie Easterbrook)

PA1 PA2 PA3 PA4 PA5 PA6 PA7

This buxom bundle of brawn trained the cadets that'd later become her closest pals. Favors "tough love" and is never short of volunteers -- especially during water rescue demos (PA4).
Sgt. Jones (Michael Winslow)

PA1 PA2 PA3 PA4 PA5 PA6 PA7

Somehow combats crime by making funny noises. Often adopts self-dubbing kung fu persona and once defeated a Spanish galleon full of NINJAS for no apparent reason (PA4).
Sgt. Tackleberry (David Graf)

PA1 PA2 PA3 PA4 PA5 PA6 PA7

Never owned a .44 Magnum that he didn't soul kiss before stowing it beneath his pillow for the night. This monster trucker drove "Bigfoot" to his honeymoon AND in a high-speed chase (PA2 and PA6).
Sgt. Hooks (Marion Ramsey)

PA1 PA2 PA3 PA4 PA5 PA6 PA7

Whisper voiced honey is a mighty mouse indeed when collaring crooks: "DON'T MOVE DIRTBAG!!!" (PA1, PA2 and PA3).
Sgt. Fackler (Bruce Mahler)

PA1 PA2 PA3 PA4 PA5 PA6 PA7

Walking whirlwind of destruction is an accident-prone demolition man. More than friendly distance is advisable.
Officer Zed (Bobcat Goldthwait)

PA1 PA2 PA3 PA4 PA5 PA6 PA7

Gang leader was cuffed in Part 2, though expeditiously reformed for Parts 3 and 4: "WHUUUU-AHHHH-EHHHH-UH!?!"
Officer Sweetchuck (Tim Kazurinsky)

PA1 PA2 PA3 PA4 PA5 PA6 PA7

Geekazoid victim of Zed's street toughs fights back. Sorta.
Sgt. Lassard (Matt McCoy)

PA1 PA2 PA3 PA4 PA5 PA6 PA7

Hey! Where'd Steve-o go? Ta-da! Enter Mahoney Lite. Lassard's Miami copper kin inexplicably jumps jurisdictions for Part 6.
Officer "House" Conklin (Tab Thacker)

PA1 PA2 PA3 PA4 PA5 PA6 PA7

Fat guys are hi-larious!
Capt. Harris (G.W. Bailey)

PA1 PA2 PA3 PA4 PA5 PA6 PA7

Career party pooper obsessed with ousting Commandant Lassard and his idiotic ilk. Fond of swishing around a bulbous riding crop whilst bellowing "MOVE IT! MOVE IT! MOVE IT!" Downright darling in a tutu (PA7).
Commandant Mauser (Art Metrano)

PA1 PA2 PA3 PA4 PA5 PA6 PA7

Lassard's fussier foil in the absence of Harris.
Lt. Proctor (Lance Kinsey)

PA1 PA2 PA3 PA4 PA5 PA6 PA7

Goofball minion of both Harris and Mauser. Routinely caught with his pants down -- literally (PA4 and PA5).

A/V club

Overall, each is presented in rather ho-hum anamorphic transfers (1.85:1) with purely utilitarian DD mono tracks. Yet Parts 4 and 5 are inexplicably FULLFRAME, apparently open matte, and Part 3 suffers static consistent with an audio transmission from Mars! Such disappointing quality control makes one apt to overenthusiasm for Part 7's brave leap to STEREO.

Final thought

Adolescent memories are likely MUCH fonder of the franchise than is warranted. Barely four flicks flirt with laugh-a-minute status, so the box set is solely for diehards and deal seekers. Let's be careful out there.

Send your comments to feedback@cineschlockorama.com

G. Noel Gross is a Dallas graphic designer and avowed Drive-In Mutant who specializes in scribbling B-movie reviews. Noel is inspired by Joe Bob Briggs and his gospel of blood, breasts and beasts.

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