Police Academy 1-4: The Carey Mahoney Cycle

Sometimes, in a man’s ongoing journey toward a fuller understanding of his world, he must watch the POLICE ACADEMY series of films. That’s all I really have to say as far as an explanation.

If you are not familiar with the POLICE ACADEMY saga, I know it must sound like a very scholarly law enforcement procedural, but don’t expect THE FRENCH CONNECTION. Or even POLICE STORY. In my opinion this is more of a “comedy” type of series than a serious analysis of law and order. I guess it’s trying to be a version of ANIMAL HOUSE but with cops instead of non-cops, and more of a “not good at all” type of approach than what John Landis chose to do.

Today we will be looking at the first four of the seven films, those that are anchored by the career of Carey Mahoney (Steve Guttenberg), the failed parking lot attendant turned police cadet who charms and pranks his way up through the ranks to become the beloved Sergeant Mahoney before finally ascending, like E.T. or Jesus. But Mahoney does it in a hot air balloon, with a bottle of champagne in his hand and Academy Award nominee Sharon Stone (ABOVE THE LAW, TOTAL RECALL) on his arm.

I forgot about this, but it turns out the first POLICE ACADEMY (1984) actually has a premise: the new “lady mayor” of “The City” (it’s never named) is apparently some kind of liberal, so she forces the Police Academy to accept the types of recruits that they used to refuse: women, effeminate fat guys, tall black guys (Bubba Smith), etc. The head of the Academy, kind and dementia-suffering Commandant Lassard (George Gaines from Punky Brewster) doesn’t mind the new policy, but the Chief of Police (George R. Robertson) and asshole Captain Harris (G.W. Bailey) are pissed. They want to maintain the boy’s club status quo, so Harris sets out to drum all the misfits out of the academy by treating them like shit. It’s supposed to have kind of a REVENGE OF THE NERDS pro-underdog type of appeal I think.

The first movie is not very funny in my opinion, but at least it’s the first one. Mahoney is sort of the lead, he’s forced to go to the Academy to stay out of jail. He brings with him Jones (Michael Winslow) because he met him at the police station, where he was brought in for scaring cops with the machine gun sound effects he makes with his mouth. The other cadets include Tackleberry (gun nut, David Graf), Hightower (tall strong guy, Bubba Smith), Hooks (timid lady with quiet squeaky voice, Marion Ramsey), Fackler (nerdy guy whose wife doesn’t want him to go, Bruce Mahler), Copeland (asshole guy, Scott Thomson), Barber (fat sissy guy, Donovan Scott) and Martin (Latin Lover, Andrew Rubin). They are trained in part by Sgt. Debbie Callahan (Leslie Easterbrook from THE DEVIL’S REJECTS), a tough lady with sunglasses and giant boobs, so you could imagine some different things that could happen there. (More from the boobs than from the sunglasses.)

So the plot is that Mahoney tries to get thrown out, but then he falls for Kim Cattrall because she’s cute, a dog humps the captain’s leg, they put shoe polish on his megaphone, then one of them accidentally starts a riot downtown and the cadets save the day in a Jar Jar Binksian type of way.

In POLICE ACADEMY 2: THEIR FIRST ASSIGNMENT (1985) some of the cadets (Mahoney, Hightower, Tackleberry, Jones, Fackler and Hooks) are hired as actual professional police officers, despite obviously dangerous incompetence and mental problems. Lassard’s brother (Howard Hesseman) is Captain of the police in The City. They’re doing such a terrible job that old people are outside of the headquarters throwing rocks at it for fun. Lieutenant Mauser (Art Metrano) is an ass-kisser trying to make the new recruits screw up so he can replace Captain Lassard. He’s basically the exact same character as Harris and even resembles him physically. I didn’t remember that he was even a different guy. (It doesn’t help that Mauser’s yes-man Sergeant Proctor [Lance Kinsey] will do the same thing for Harris in parts 4, 5 and 6.)

The City is also being terrorized by a gang of punks led by the squealing, crazy-eyed Zed (Bob Goldthwait, not credited as Bobcat until part 3). By “terrorized” I mean that these guys go into the grocery store and fill up their carts and make a mess and then leave without paying. But they do say thank you. (This movie would’ve been alot shorter if John Stone or Marion Cobretti had been shopping there.)

There is a lack of big boobs in this one, because Callahan’s not in it, but Tackleberry loses his virginity and gets married (he met a female police officer who shared his passion for big guns, obviously).

POLICE ACADEMY 3: BACK IN TRAINING (1986) is crucial because the officers are called back to the Academy to help Lassard keep it from being shut down. That way the series can still be called POLICE ACADEMY and not just POLICE. For some reason Mauser is now training beret-wearing officers and is in competition with Lassard.

So Mahoney, Hightower, Tackleberry, Jones, Hooks and Fackler return to the Academy but now as peers with Callahan. They train a new generation of misfits mainly made up of previously non-cop characters they wanted to keep in the story: gang-leader Zed, browbeaten shop owner Sweetchuck (Tim Kazurinsky), Fackler’s wife (Debralee Scott), Tackleberry’s boxer brother-in-law (Andrew Paris). Also they have a new Japanese stereotype guy (Brian Tochi from REVENGE OF THE NERDS, doesn’t speak much English, has camera, proficient in martial arts) and another pretty girl for Mahoney (Shawn Weatherly).

I have to admit there was a part that made me laugh a little. Sweetchuck is driving to the Academy on a scooter, pissing off other drivers by going too slow. A kid passes him on a bicycle, and he angrily yells at the kid, “This is not Le Mans!”

But what I found interesting about this one is I really got the feeling we were supposed to now believe that these guys are good cops and trainers and that their school needs to stay open. It seems like we’re genuinely supposed to be touched by their unity as Callahan and Hooks sing a song about team work with Tackleberry on sax and the rest of the Academy joining in to dance at the end while the opposing school sits stone faced. Note that Jones is playing guitar, not doing sound effects, and it never cuts to a joke about Zed screaming or playing bongos or anything. That’s how we know it’s serious. We’re supposed to be rooting for them.

But why? They’re still dangerously inept lunatics. It’s a miracle that they graduated in part 1, and all they achieved in Their First Assignment was to improperly arrest a bunch of rioters that had to be released, and break the arm of a gang leader who not only didn’t do jail time, but has now joined them at the Academy. The other school is run by assholes, but as far as we know their students are competent professionals. And it’s certainly possible that they have a saxophone player on par with Tackleberry. We don’t really know for sure.

From the point-of-view of Fackler this is the end of a trilogy, because it brings things full circle, reversing the events of part 1 so that it’s him that doesn’t want his wife to join the Academy, and he ends up on the hood of her car. Fackler disappears until part 6 so as not to destroy that poetic symmetry. Or maybe it’s just because “clumsy” isn’t as memorable a characteristic as “big boobs” or “loves guns” or “Asian.” If they did a remake though they would get Ed Helms to play him.

POLICE ACADEMY 4: CITIZENS ON PATROL (1987) closes out the Mahoney Quadrilogy with an even more logic-challenging premise: we have to get behind Lassard’s new program of training citizens to fight crime. Suddenly Mauser is gone and Harris is back, and he has the job of being a big asshole about it being a bad idea and wanting to shut it down. But the thing is, he’s obviously right! If they’re not full-fledged officers why should they be trusted with law enforcement, or encouraged to put themselves at risk?

Sure, this was before George Zimmerman, but it was after Bernard Goetz. There was plenty of reason to know this was unsafe. The movie asks us to get behind an elderly women who loves guns and explosives going undercover without proper training. The program only gets shut down when the lady blows a huge undercover operation (just like HARD BOILED) but then is started up again when she ignores protocol and gets involved in busting some escaped prisoners and ninjas at an air show.

Warning: in the POLICE ACADEMY box set, part 4 is in 4:3. Gone is the visual majesty of parts 1-3.

I like analyzing these plots because what else am I gonna do, list all the jokes? They come up with these things that they repeat in subsequent sequels, making increasingly less sense as you’re obviously supposed to laugh just out of familiarity. For example in each one Jones embarrasses people by making people think somebody else made a gross sound. He seems to be able to throw his voice so well that his victims cover their mouths as if even they believe they were the ones that made a slobbering noise or a burp or whatever. In part 4 he makes a fart sound so realistic that people wave their hands in front of their noses – they’re tricked into thinking they smell it!

Also in part 4 he does a burp for somebody and when he does it he does a weird horse-face lower-lip quivering thing. I think this is a cheat, really, because anybody could burp, but he does that face so that we think it counts as a sound effect. Unethical, in my opinion.

What a strange fucking phenomenon, Michael Winslow. He’s obviously really good at what he does. If he just tried to be a human beatbox he probly wouldn’t have much of a career, but he would be cool. Instead he does standup comedy, but I don’t know, man. To me making a car engine sound is not really that applicable to telling a joke or a story. I don’t think it meshes. It’s like if a cartoonist wanted to be a standup, and instead of punchlines he draws funny pictures on an easel. It’s just too much, in my opinion. And too little.

But in the movies you can’t hold it against him. He’s likable because he’s so deadpan. He always has to keep a straight face so the Captain or whoever doesn’t know it’s him. Do the asshole guys even know that he does sound effects? I’m not sure they do.

What is the deal with Jones? That’s one of the biggest questions I have with this series. I think in part 1 there was some reference that made me think maybe he was supposed to be mentally ill, but if so they don’t mention it again. He becomes a trusted comrade of the other officers and a respected member of the faculty, yet over the course of these 4 movies we almost never see him doing anything where he’s not making robot sounds, imitating a machine or a bodily function, or beatboxing, or something involving sound effects.

In part 1 he’s alone in his dorm room, sitting and pretending to play an imaginary video game. When the assholes in charge are speaking he makes sounds to embarrass or confuse them. When he’s teaching he makes sounds. When he’s off duty in public he makes sounds to interfere with a couple going on a date. In part 3, when the lives of himself and others are counting on Jones and his colleagues – the governor has been kidnapped and a gang of masked gunmen are running amok among civilians – he walks around making sounds to pretend that he’s using some sort of scanner to detect them.

Does this man have a life outside of sound effects? Doesn’t he ever feel like he deserves a rest? Is there ever a time when he just sits down to read the newspaper or watch Newhart and keeps his mouth shut? It doesn’t seem like it, but there is some evidence. I mentioned that in part 3 he played guitar. In parts 2 and 3 he does martial arts and acrobatics (he can do a flip over a tall fence). These are skills that require practice. I guess during the fight training he’s also doing whooshing. But maybe he shuts up during guitar practice? I don’t know. I can’t prove it.

Jones is specifically imitating Bruce Lee’s moves, expressions and his battle cry, so it’s more of an impression than a martial art. But he uses it effectively in combat. On the other hand he probly only learned to fight so he could make whooshy sound effects with each of his moves and do this joke (real popular at the time) where he mimics a dubbed kung fu movie voice and moves his lips out of synch. The writers were so fond of this joke that they had him do it in part 2, part 3 and twice in part 4. The first time in part 4 the C.O.P. Mrs. Feldman (Billie Bird) reacts like this:

…which is a good summary of how I felt about most of that movie.

23-year-old David Spade makes his screen debut as a bratty kid who gets in trouble for skateboarding in a mall. If Tackleberry had been there he would’ve shot his wheels off and said “You’ll stop skateboarding NOW, mister!”, but he wasn’t, so Mahoney puts in a good word with the judge and gets him assigned to Citizens on Patrol, to set up a prank they’ll play on him later before he disappears from the movie. There’s a surprisingly long section of the movie just about him and his friends skating, giving Mahoney and the crew a chance to rest, I guess. Tony Hawk and other famous skaters appear.

The opening and closing credits have a Melle Mel-ish rap song “Citizens on Patrol,” with Winslow beatboxing and making wacky harmonica sounds and shit. The song is by L.A. Dream Team, an obscure but apparently legit group of West Coast hip hop pioneers. So that’s where American culture was at in ’87. Movies were ready for skatin’ and rappin’.

A bird shits on Sweetchuck and Harris. Hightower’s dog bites Harris’s crotch while he’s making a speech. Sweetchuck falls into a pool a couple times and gets launched into a basketball hoop a couple times. Harris slips on a skateboard. Harris rips his pants on a fence. In one of the more forced embarrassments for Harris he accidentally walks into a shower. It’s not clear why the shower is running or why he doesn’t see or hear it until it’s too late. But man, that guy had water on him. Did you see that? Ha ha.

In part 1 Harris got shoe polish on his megaphone, in part 2 Mauser’s shampoo got replaced with super glue, in this one Harris gets super glue on his megaphone and his deodorant replaced with mace when he’s in the shower. So it’s sort of a greatest hits medley.

The C.O.P. recruits are not very memorable, which is why the feisty old lady gets so much play. They got David Spade and they got a fat guy named House (Tab Thacker), that’s about it. You know these guys are pathetic because none of them gets it on with Callahan. In parts 1 and 2 guys who should have no shot with her get instant boob-smothering just by knocking on her door. I guess they were honorable or greedy enough not to spread the word about it.

25 years later I’m not sure I understand why we as a nation, as a civilization, thought this shit was so funny. And it’s hard to entirely understand at this removed date what it was about Mahoney – about Steve Guttenberg – that made them base this whole movie series around his charms. Obviously he must’ve been considered good looking, and he takes his shirt off when he can. He also has a knack for sleeveless and even cut-off police uniforms. Probly just a non-sequitur because it looks funny (like his “Bun in the Oven” t-shirt he wears to the Academy upon first arriving), but it might be to show off his body to the ladies, I’m not sure. I mean, clearly he’s supposed to be awesome when he does this:

There’s no joke here, it’s just him driving that thing through a crowded beach, smiling and waving and high-fiving everybody, secure in the knowledge that they all love him and thinks he’s The Man.

Like so many ’80s comedy characters it’s supposed to be funny that he’s perpetually hitting on women, and in some installments there’s a pretty lady who at first is put off by him and then comes to admit that oh who are they fooling they cannot resist him. Since they disappear before the next installment he never gets a chance to get serious with them (or, to be fair, to have sex with them, so he’s not using them for that as far as we know).

His attraction to the ladies is completely unethical half the time, like when he spies on all the female cadets who for some reason all take a shower at the same time late at night (police basketball team practice?), when he’s a teacher and he’s hitting on his own student, or – my favorite – when he’s coaching a women’s basketball team (the age range is unclear) and makes them huddle in closer to him. And he gives a sly smile and they all giggle. I mean, picture that in real life, a man coaching young women and flirting with them in a huddle. What in real life would be creepy and disgusting in ’80s comedies is funny and cute.

But his main power is as sort of a Bugs Bunny character who just says and does things to fuck with people and then smiles at the fact that they’re not in on the joke. He makes them look dumb and gives them the Condescending Suppressed Smile With Eyebrows:

or the standard Smug Smile of I’m-So-Awesome:

Ironically, people might give these smiles now when they talk about Steve Guttenberg. Ha ha, Steve Guttenberg. The guy from POLICE ACADEMY. Ha ha. The Gute.

But I don’t know. He does seem pretty charismatic. I think I get it.

* * *

What of those we lost along the way? In part 1 we had Cadet Karen Thompson (Kim Cattrall), whose beauty inspires Mahoney to stay in the academy and fall in love, but is never mentioned in the sequels. Cadet Leslie Barbara (Donovan Scott), the big effeminate guy with the dog who would for sure be played by the guy from Modern Family in a remake. Cadet George Martín, who inspires Mahoney with his multiple sex partners and phony Latin Lover routine, and who Callahan uses as a one night stand. Part 2 has Officer Vinnie Schutlman (Peter Van Norden), Mahoney’s slobby partner who eats cereal even after a cat has shit in it – I guess that character didn’t capture the imagination of part 3’s writers.

Let us remember them and honor them as if they had big boobs or could imitate the sound of a helicopter.

* * *

Directed by Jerry Paris (CAT BALLOU [tv version with Lesley Ann Warren], EVIL ROY SLADE, episodes of The Munsters and The Dick Van Dyke Show and stuff like that)
Written by Barry Blaustein (COMING TO AMERICA, THE NUTTY PROFESSOR, BEYOND THE MAT) & David Sheffield (all the same stuff except not BEYOND THE MAT)

Directed by Jerry Paris

Directed by Jim Drake (14 episodes of Gimme a Break!, 8 episodes of Golden Girls, SPEED ZONE, 63 episodes of Night Court, stuff like that)
Written by Gene Quintano


This entry was posted on Monday, June 25th, 2012 at 1:47 am and is filed under Comedy/Laffs, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

121 Responses to “Police Academy 1-4: The Carey Mahoney Cycle”

  1. I’m disappointed that you didn’t mention the pretty cool action scenes, that close most of the movies. I understand that you probably didn’t enjoy them too much, because they were after all made for comedic effect and not as a real action beat, but come on, they have some really cool stunt work! I doubt that in today’s movie landscape anybody would let a stuntman jump from an airplane on a flying hot air ballon, just for a simple comedy! They don’t even do this for real action movies anymore!

    Also I really liked Mahoney just for one character trait: He loves to help people. He is a sexist jerk who has a serious problem with authority, but damn, if you need help, he will help you. Like in part 1, when he teaches Hightower how to drive. Mahoney did everything to get kicked out out of the academy and when Hightower asked him for help in the middle of the night, he could have just said: “Why should I care? I’m not your mother.” Instead he helped him.

    Also in the bonus material Bubba Smith said that the scene, where he flips the car after the asshole guys made a racist remark about Hooks, was the first time in that a black movie character risked his job to help another black character. Don’t know if it’s true, but I think he might be up to something.

    Back to Mahoney: As much as I like him, I think he is a serial killer. It’s just the creepy way how he objectifies women and always acts so damn charming. And by the end of the movie, he gets the girl…who later disappears completely! As soon as the next movie starts, he is already looking for a new girl, without ever mentioning the previous one. Think about it! Maybe, when he saw Kim Catrall and decided to stay in the academy, he was just thinking: “Hmmm…maybe I learn how I will never get caught when I stay here.”

  2. Amazing stuff, Vern. I know you don’t generally like to review comedies.

    I loved these movies as a kid. Haven’t seen any of them in at least ten year but I watched them over and over as a kid. I think at least with the first one it was that ’80s thing of rejects messing around with authority, but then coming through in the end. I mean, I cares about Hightower passing the driving test. Not that it was about caring though, Mahoney’s shenanigans amused me.

    But how did you get through this whole thing without mentioning Harris getting is head stuck in a horse’s ass?

  3. These movies used to be on all the time in my local tv. (Venezuela)
    You didn’t mention the blue oyster which is the main go to running joke of the series.

  4. I have to agree with Fred, I watched them endlessly as a kid, probably because as questionable as they are, for kids they play like cartoons. (Hell remember the cartoon?) Rewatched the first one some years back and I thought it was alright? I wouldn’t recommend it, but it didn’t insult me too bad and a few times I admit it did make me laugh.

    I think what baffles me is that WB really kept making these movies, one a year like they’re the Bond series or something. I mean rather unprecedented for comedies, at least the first and only Hollywood instance of such since the 40s/50s when you had all those Abbott/Costello and Hope/Crosby movies. (Unless you count DTV, which might qualify all those AMERICAN PIE movies.)

    Obviously they had a low/modest-enough budget and made enough profit (did well on VHS too) to justify those sequels, but I read in EW that they were also popular in Europe when they did a piece on the POLICE ACADEMY movies some years back.

    Vern – Mauser was replaced by Harris because he got disabled by a serious spinal cord injury due to a fall at home.

    Also, Tackleberry rules.

  5. I think the country liked this shit because we were in a crime wave. A different era.

    Police were needed, wanted, desired. We wanted to see what we were missing, on screen, it was wish fulfillment: please, someone, anyone, even a human beatbox: clean up the streets. Psychological projection. For example, a Police Academy type movie but with paramilitary forces instead would probably play well in Ciudad Juarez right now as a reflection of anxieties.

    Now, crime isn’t such a big issue stateside, so this shit doesn’t play anymore.

    As a corollary, I could see us falling for a comedy today about a group of misfit financial regulators. Watch as the human beatbox throws fart noises and gets the banker to incriminate himself in financial chicanery. I would laugh! So would you!

    Someone get on it: Securities and Exchange Commission Academy, starring Steve Guttenberg. I think Bobcat Goldthwait would make a good asshole banker.

    Wish fulfillment: the successful comedies we get in any given era are a reflection of our anxieties. That’s my theory. With Zimmerman:


    I guess that makes Ben Stiller the Steve Guttenberg of our time.

    So what does the success of “The Hangover” 1-2 (soon 3) say about us as a people?

  6. Weird, I always assumed Bobcat was in all of these and instead it just turns out that I’ve seen Police Academy 3 twenty times as a kid.

    I’ll also defend Steve Guttenberg, it isn’t like he’s Michael Ontkean or something.

  7. I think the greatest idea that they ever had during the making of these movies, was teaming up Zed and Sweetchuck. For any reason every scene with these two together, cracks me up the most.

  8. I think the thing that works best about these movies is the awesome theme song. It’s so majestic and heroic that it occasionally tricks you into believing that you’re not watching some total horseshit about some fucking idiots failing upward into positions of authority. I think this was common in eighties comedies. The movie itself would be completely amateur hour, but the score would sound professional enough to make you think it was a real movie. I don’t know if that happens so much these days. Do comedies even have scores anymore, or do they just play Smashmouth songs and/or generic drama music at the end of the second act when we’re supposed to feel sad for some reason that the idiot man-child’s way out-of-his-league girlfriend dumps him or social services takes away the rascally baby penguin (voiced by Seth Rogen) he adopted but pretended to hate the whole movie?

  9. Steve Guttenberg has a biography out. He comes across as the nicest person Hollywood has ever seen.

  10. Sadly, I will not be able to savor this post until later. Damn the workday!

  11. Police Academy 1 was my go to video to see some secret tits when I was a kid; so there’s that.
    Oh… and Stir Crazy.

  12. If any wants to do some supplemental reading, a few years ago a friend and I watched the entire series in one day and wrote about it. The archive can be found here:


    Start at the bottom of the page.

  13. I’ve never seen one of these movies and I can’t say I have a real strong desire to

  14. “So what does the success of “The Hangover” 1-2 (soon 3) say about us as a people?”

    that people like to get black out drunk to escape the reality of the abysmal modern day?

  15. I knew a film student from Iron Curtain Poland who described all the precautions and underground checkpoints his friends set up so they could safely hold a screening of an American film someone smuggled in. It ended with a bunch of paranoid, excited guys in a windowless 5th floor apartment huddled around a VHS of Police Academy.

  16. Brother Gute’s shirt read “ONE in the Oven”, not “Bun…”.

    Get it right! You’re messing with the primal forces of nature here.

  17. I only saw the second and 3rd movies, enough to make me decide to never give a fuck about this saga. Never saw any of the others, and i intend to keep it that way.

    And i never warmed up to Steve Guttenberg.

  18. I’m with asimovlives again, except instead of watching 2 whole movies I watched most of the first one and maybe 20 minutes of one of the sequels. Regrettable time spent, that.

    This saga appears to have no redeeming facets at all. Ugly, unfunny, poorly made, poorly conceived, stupid posters & previews, no notable pedigree or legacy (except Tony Hawk? who in 2002 made me laugh with his cameo in XXX), hairy men and unattractive women, and worst of all boring.

    And sorry, Mr. Majestyk, but fuck that theme music. Or have mercy and give it to a better movie. Maybe that’ll help. Also, answer my e-mail so I can buy movies from you while I’m in town.

    Vern’s review is humorous and appreciated, but I’ll kindly expunge all POLICE ACADEMY thoughts & memories from my brain now.

  19. Remember the cartoon show? It had a theme song from The Fat Boys. I leave it to you if it’s a good or a bad thing.


  20. There is a special hell reserved for all the people who help made this saga popular enough to make 6 movies out of them. It was the 80s my ass!!

  21. Mouth: When did you email me? I didn’t get anything.

  22. Actually, there are 7 movies. But everybody likes to ignore the existence of MISSION TO MOSCOW.

  23. Ha, awesome job Vern! I love it when you do “projects” like this. You could end this retrospective with an analysis of how weird-looking Guttenberg is now.

  24. Guttenberg did some fairly big movies outside of the Police Academy franchise, though. Cocoon, Short Circuit, The Bedroom Window, Don’t Tell Her it’s Me…He WAS a star of some sorts once.

  25. Well, this brought back memories…

    Thanks for reviewing this, Vern. It probably looks good in hindsight but I had good memories of watching the entire series. Obviously the first four with Steve Guttenberg were the best simply because he knew how to work it as the lead character. I think the reason he had a career was simply because of these movies and everything else was cashing in on his reliable box office appeal. And he knew when to get off the gravy train too because the drop in quality after the fourth one was very noticable. So credit to him for that.

    What I do not understand, and never will, is why they felt they had to replace his character with a generic guy in all of the following movies who simply had no presence whatsoever. There was even another replacement in the final Mission to Moscow movie! And that guy sucked ass too. The worse thing was that the scripts for the movies wrote that character like it was still Guttenberg when they simpy were not. It made no sense. Did they really think they needed a smarmy “lead” to hold the supporting cast of characters together? It was just plain weird.

    Also, Harris was always the better antagonist in the movies. They made the right call in basically replacing Mauser with Harris once they realized that. As great as GW Bailey is in the other roles in his career (yes, I’m talking about Mannequin), he’ll always be remembered for his role as Harris.

    Here’s the thing, as terrible as these movies are in hindsight, they were basically cartoons. I agree with RRA there. They had nothing complicated going on. It was just ribald gag after gag meant to cater to the juvenile minded. I suspect that was all there was to it. I’ll also add that the Blue Oyster running gag never got old too.

    And yes, that theme for the series was badass. It truly is a classic theme of all time that is right up there with the Godfather in terms of recognition. Yes, I just compared Police Academy to the Godfather.

    And Vern, I don’t understand your dislike for Michael Winslow. The dude had a talent and people wanted to see it. This was before America’s Got Talent, after all. How can you begrudge a guy a living when he can do this?


    How can anyone not see that without a big smile of amazement on their face?

  26. Oh my god. I just remembred they actually had a live action series in addition to the earlier animated series. It was relatively recent too. It ran from 1997 to 1998.


    That, I remember watching, and thinking how godawful it was.

  27. A star of some sorts? The Gute was a MASSIVE star in the eighties. On top of those you mentioned, there was DINER and THREE MEN AND A BABY, the latter of which was the highest grossest picture of 1987, a year with no shortage of huge hits. Whether it was just luck or some unquantifiable je ne sais quoi, but you couldn’t deny his track record for a while there. His name on a poster meant money in the bank.

    Never a great actor, but I’ve enjoyed his more recent appearances on VERONICA MARS and PARTY DOWN. I can’t hate the guy.

    Also, I’ve now had the POLICE ACADEMY theme stuck in my head all day.

  28. Sorry, Majestyk, I only meant that Police Academy doesn’t represent his best and/or most popular work. Don’t Tell Her it’s Me is an underrated little gem. And Diner is a classic.

  29. Fair enough, though I bet when he dies some variation on “POLICE ACADEMY star Steve Guttenberg” will appear on a good deal of his obituaries.

  30. Sure. I seriously doubt that they’ll say that the guy from Diner is dead, even if it’s his best work as an actor.

  31. “What in real life would be creepy and disgusting in ’80s comedies is funny and cute.” Compared to when, today? If Police Academy was made today, Seth Rogen/Jonah Hill would be stood behind those women and acting out blowjob charades for the benefit of whoever his co-star is, Jonah Hill/Seth Rogen, probably, so the sleze factor is relative. I can’t believe I’m defending Mahoney but I guess I am. I love the idea of him being a serial killer inbetween films though. I imagine Jones would be on hand for assistance with body disposal and supplying the sound effects for the power tools.

    (That wouldn’t apply to Sharon Stone, obviously. She’ll be out of that balloon and plummeting towards Earth as soon as she has sipped that poisoned champagne)

    As well as the theme tune giving the film’s a gravitas they maybe didn’t deserve, the poster for number four could be mentioned on a related note. Wasn’t it done by Drew whatsisname, the guy behind the awesome star wars and the thing posters?

  32. Not just part 4. I believe Drew Struzan did all of the posters. Here’s some of them in this gallery:


  33. Someone else remembers Don’t Tell Her It’s Me? We should start a support group. Trying to sell Guttenberg as a secret stud is just creepy and wrong…

    Speaking of creepy and wrong, Guttenberg was pretty good on Veronica Mars. Kudos to that casting director!

  34. My name is Lobo, I hunt alone!

  35. Hey, he did do all four! He’s a very good artist (my only criticism would be some suspiciously long necks, for example, the french girl on the right of this piece: http://drewstruzan.com/illustrated/portfolio/?fa=medium&gid=1067&mp&gallerystart=1&pagestart=1&type=mp&gs=1 ) and seems to maintain a level of quality for films that he must have known would be rubbish.

    Guttenberg was in Short Circuit too (not Short Circuit two. Short Circuit, too) which was on telly a little while back and fucking hell it’s bad. I haven’t seen the Police Academies in many a year, but they can’t have aged half as bad as that.

    Last I heard of Guttenberg, he was coming to London to appear in a pantomime. Pic here:


    Something about that photo makes me feel bad for the guy. There’s a sadness behind those eyes.

  36. I used to love these movies as a kid, especially 4. Now these along with “Ernest Goes To Camp” I find myself as an adult I look back “What was I thinking? I used to like this crap?”

    Vern, though I think you should reevaluate your stance on Michael Winslow. I used to think like you that his shtick was played out and that along with the movies was only funny when I was a kid until I recently stumbled on a video of him doing Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love” on a Swedish talk show a few years ago doing the singing AND the guitar part and the drums. It’s amazing. Check it out at:


  37. ERNEST GOES TO CAMP has a max viewing age of seven, but you have to admit that “Gee I’m Glad It’s Raining” is a heartbreaking ballad of staggering power and beauty. I am not even being a little bit sarcastic.

    Gee I’m glad it’s raining.
    The gentle rhythm soothes the pain inside.
    I’m glad the stars aren’t shining.
    A wounded warrior needs a place to hide.
    I thought I had found someone
    I could count on til the end.
    What they wanted was a hero.
    All I needed was a friend.

    Are you kidding me? Niagara Falls.

  38. Speaking of, Zach Morris is probably a serial killer due to all the girlfriends he had that never made it past one episode.

  39. Somewhere I´ve heard of ERNEST GOES STRAIGHT TO VIDEO? Is that a good one? High quality DTV?

  40. The only memory I have of these films is seeing them in the video store as a kid. For some reason the one with all of the cadets in a hot air balloon always stuck in my head. Oh, and I remember commercials for some tie in toys that appeared long after the movies were all that popular. But this must have been because of some cartoon that I was unaware of at that time.

    Guttenberg’s cameo was pretty great in Party Down. Even there he gets the girl. Maybe the guy has it in his contract that he has to get some by the end of every movie/tv show he’s in. And Holen’s theory makes me want to see a Police Academy/Dexter mash up.

  41. I vouch for Dan’s POLICE ACADEMY marathon.

    What channel was that tv series on? It sounds awesome, and made it a whole season. Says Winslow is in all 27, and Joe Flaherty.

    I believe ERNEST GOES TO JAIL was considered the surprisingly best of that series, though I was partial to SAVES CHRISTMAS.

  42. Everything Vern says is undoubtedly true…but I’d probably still watching any of the first 5 movies if I came across them on tv with nothing else on.

  43. The Original... Paul

    June 25th, 2012 at 5:02 pm

    I remember loving this series as a child. I don’t even want to watch it now, it’d probably spoil the memories.

    I do remember the ninja fight at the end of one of the movies (part 4?) being pretty awesome. I’d kinda like to see how it holds up nowadays. Although see the above comment… it’s never good to revisit the stuff you liked as a child and find out that, yeah, it’s actually pretty crap.

    My favorites were actually parts five and six, the one where Lassard goes to Miami and is hunted down by inept crooks because he’s accidentally been given a priceless jewel… yeah, I DEFINITELY do not want to revisit that one. And part six, which had a “secret” mastercriminal.

    As for Gutenberg, I didn’t even remember that he was replaced, but “Mission to Moscow” was definitely terrible. Even as a child I knew that. Talking of terrible films, I think “Three Men and a Little Lady” has the dubious honour of being one of the first films I ever really hated. Although I remember “Three Men and a Baby” being quite enjoyable.

  44. Boy, these were on HBO all the time back in the old days. I remember thinking that these were stupid even as an 11-year-old, though I think my sense of humor has become even more juvenile and retrograde in my old age so who knows what I’d think of them now? I will admit that the Blue Oyster running gag was kind of funny in its persistance if nothing else (too bad none of the actual gay bars I’ve ever been to are like that), and I guess the Bobcat’s antics were occasionally somewhat amusing.

    I’d love to see the Outlaw perspective on the works of Jim Varney, though I can see how all that “HEY VERN” stuff might get old.

  45. Congratulations on your successful viewing of one of the most worthless movie franchises of the ’80s, Vern. I don’t know whether to further congratulate or chastise you for passing up a chance to mention the particularly dated homophobia of the Blue Oyster Club “jokes” that show up in each of the movies. Too easy a target for calling out the movies on their shit, I suppose…and, anyway, you can say the POLICE ACEDEMYs suck, but you can’t say you’re mad at them.

    Should you need a Guttenberg sorbet, and who doesn’t every now and then, go check him out in the first part of THE BOYS FROM BRAZIL. Now there’s a film: Olivier vs. Peck vs. dobermans vs. lots of fake-looking blood, plus child Hitlers. Hmm, actually, parts of that movie may have aged WORSE than the POLICE ACADEMY movies.

  46. That’s it, I’m watching these movies. I won’t be able to do it all in one day like Dan but maybe one a night, Remember, I love franchises so the idea they made seven of them fascinates me. MOSCOW was the one I couldn’t get through. Never even heard if it until it was on cable but I saw 3 – 6 in theaters,

    So remember in the beginning of 1 Mahoney gets in trouble for messing up the A-hole’s car? But the lot was legitimately full, so why was his boss encouraging him to violate their space? Legitimate questions.

    I wonder if these movies compare to the CANNONBALL RUNs and SMOKEY AND THE BANDITs. These are good legitimate stunts constructed for high concept silly comedy. Also interesting they went from R to PG-13 to straight PG, clearly finding their audience.

  47. God, they’re so much younger than they seemed when I was 10. And how do we know they didn’t add all Winslow’s sound effects in post? (obviously there’s documentation of his talents, I just think it’s an interesting thought now that I know how films are made.)

    Man, these DVDs look terrible. Worse than my old VHS tapes recorded off HBO. Fuzzy, a weird outline behind certain backgrounds.

  48. I re-watched all 7 Academy movies with two of my sons not long ago, and was a bit surprised at how good the first one is (compared to the other 6). And that scenes I rembered as being funny weren’t and vice versa.

    Fred, they might campare favourably with Cannonball Run II and Smokey the Bandit II & III, but the original Burt’s Trans Am Adventure and the first Dean Martin Show are way better. What was considered light entertainment in the 60’s and 70’s are almost always way better than their 80’s counterparts.

  49. You know what, I don’t think the Blue Oyster Club thing is that bad compared to other gay jokes of the ’80s. Obviously it’s playing into homophobia, but at least the joke is at the expense of the straight characters trying to play it cool when they end up in there. They’re intimidated by these leather daddies and Proctor, being basically a nice guy, ends up chastefully slow dancing.

    I don’t mean to defend it really, but I remember Eddie Murphy talking about “f-ggots” and AIDS and stuff in his standup. These jokes seem pretty innocent compared to some of the hateful shit that was accepted back them. And that particular gay stereotype doesn’t seem as mean-spirited as the usual limp-wristed one.

  50. Oh, and another thing, how the hell did they manage to get Christopher Lee and Ron Perlman to do movie #7?!

  51. I did watch most of the Ernest movies as a kid, including the AWFULLLLLLLLLL last two DTV ones (seriously, they were horrendous)

    but the strange thing is, I don’t remember liking them all that much, save for maybe ERNEST SAVES CHRISTMAS, I think I would only rent them when I couldn’t find anything else to rent or watch them on tv when there was nothing else to do, in other words they killed some time but were nothing great

    however, I was still sad when I heard Jim Varney died, he always seemed like he was giving it his all, even when the movie around him was crap

  52. I agree with Vern. The Blue Oyster running gag never struck me as homophobic, even going back to look at them now on youtube.

  53. pegsman

    “how the hell did they manage to get Christopher Lee and Ron Perlman to do movie #7?!”

    To quote Sir Lawrence Olivier: “Money, dear boy”.

  54. A POLICE ACADEMY marathon?!? Hell is kinder!

  55. Have you ever seen Ron Pearlman’s filmography? Its only a recent rhing that he has climbed out of c list celebrity world.

  56. Has anyone listened to the DVD commentary on 1? Is it as awesome as the prospect of a Guttenberg/Winslow commentary sounds?

    Very astute on the Blue Oyster Club joke but I can’t believe how much homophobia there is in the movie. It’s really from an era where being gay as perceived as s bad thing and being called gay was a huge insult. The rest of the movie is pretty impressive from a production standpoint, giving legit production value to extreme silliness. Today they’d green screen it.

  57. Oh yeah, something I meant to bring up- I saw the sequels before I saw the first one and when I did, I was surprised at how much the series toned down the r-rated stuff(the racial slurs, the nudity, the blowjob gags) pretty much starting with the second one. While I’m sure there’s maybe an edit here of there, I’m pretty sure I’ve seen most of the sequels broadcast on daytime tv.

  58. Jareth Cutestory

    June 26th, 2012 at 8:55 am

    I get that the comedic tone of these films is pitched somewhere in the vicinity of PORKY’S (like the podium blowjob that you guys have all been too tactful to explicate), but am I wrong in thinking that the element of the team of misfits succeeding in spite of themselves is pretty much lifted wholesale from STRIPES?

  59. Jareth – and ANIMAL HOUSE and many others.

  60. The Original... Paul

    June 26th, 2012 at 9:38 am

    With the exception of #7, which is truly terrible… were these films really that bad? I think it’s “fashionable” to hate them now but the franchise made it through a lot of movies. I haven’t seen them since childhood (a long, long time ago now) but I don’t remember them being THAT horrible. I never found them boring for the most part anyway.

    I think comparing them to “Porky’s” is doing the latter film a big disservice though. “Porky’s” had the lowbrow humour, true, but it also had enough likeable, or at least relatable, characters that “Lassie” came across as a one-joke exception to the rule rather than setting the tone of every character in the film. In “Police Academy”, most of the characters came off as one-note stereotypes.

  61. asimov (you’re aknowledging my existence again, I see), the question was a little bit rethorical. When you make a dozen films a year to pay the bills you probably read 200 scripts. I was just wondering what made Police Academy 7 stand out? I doubt that they paid him well. In the old days it was said that Michael Caine chose scripts from the location it would be shot. South of France, I’m there! Alaska, forget about it. And I think I know excactly when he made that decision. In Billion Dollar Brain (1968) he found himself in Finland waist deep in snow. I bet he said to himself “never again” right there and then. Maybe Lee fancied a trip to Eastern Europe in 1994?

  62. pegsman, but Caine did made ON DEADLY GROUND, which was shot in Alaska i think. I can only assume the paycheck must had been pretty good.

    But those Police Academy movies were no penny pinchers movies, they were made by a major, (WB, after The Ladd Company folded), so i can guess the paycheck, at least for Mr Lee, was sweet.

    Also, the 80s and 90s were the worst years in Lee’s career. He must had taken any offer that come across his way, and Perlman, he must had been happy any job offer was made for him. Perlman was a nobody and Lee was all but forgotten. It’s great that those two men’s fortunes turned around by the 2000s.

  63. There is this nice quote from Michael Caine. I don’t know if he was talking about JAWS 4 or ON DEADLY GROUND, because this quote is often used for both movies, but it goes: “I have never seen it, but by all accounts it is terrible. However, I have seen the house that it built, and it is terrific.”

    You must remember: Acting is still a job and not every actor, doesn’t matter how good he is, is a millionaire. Perlman often said that he can’t afford to turn down every role, because he wants his kids to visit a good school and he loves his wife and his wife loves shoes. Right now he is lucky, with finally breaking to the mainstream (again) and getting a steady paycheck for SONS OF ANARCHY, so there is this. But that doesn’t mean that he might have to do CROCOSHARKACONDA Vs TWO-HEADED PIRANHAPHANT soon, if he doesn’t become a certified a-lister, who earns 20+ Million $ with appearing in one movie.

  64. Jareth Cutestory

    June 26th, 2012 at 11:02 am

    RRA: You’re right, there was a lot of that “team of misfits” stuff back then, beginning with ANIMAL HOUSE. My memory might be overstating the similarity between STRIPES and POLICE ACADEMY due to the military/police connection between the two films. And if any producer actually thought they could create a poor man’s Bill Murray by casting Guttenberg, well, good luck with that; the Gute is much more of a Tom Hulce type guy.

    Paul: I haven’t seen PORKY’S since the 1980s, but I did watch the first POLICE ACADEMY a few years ago as part of an informal “conspicuously-filmed-in-Toronto” film festival, and I’ll back you up that it’s not as bad as, say, any given Adam Sandler cash grab. Maybe if POLICE ACADEMY’s reputation suffers it is because it didn’t back up its cast of misfits with the sincerity of REVENGE OF THE NERDS yet wasn’t outright raunchy, thus leading to some of the ambiguities Vern describes in his review.

  65. ah, ANIMAL HOUSE. What is the local opinion on that one?

    Its strange how for a comedy mostly remembered for Belushi, but personally I always thought the star was Tim Matheson. His faux-presentation of respectability thinly conveiling so much bullshit, he doesn’t want to be liked, you’re SUPPOSED to like him and for some reason he’s hilarious in that movie for that reason. I like to think he would’ve been with those elitist snobs if not for the fact he didn’t come from money or the right connections. Like really, why else wouldn’t he be with the Omegas?

    Also a sign of those times when you could make light of molesting a drunk under-aged girl and nobody get offended.

    *cue RRA*
    *cue underneath: Class of 2008*
    *cue underneath that: Current Whereabouts Unknown (Nobody Cares)*

  66. So far I’m liking these movies. It’s really broad comedy and I’m not reacting like I did when I was 10, but I’m appreciating the production design and staging of it. It’s still really hard work in service of being completely stupid. Lots of extras, well dressed locations, elaborate stunts doing dangerous pratfalls.

    That’s what filmmaking was all about, before everything got so easy to simulate. As Griff pointed out there’s something inherently watchable about even bad movies from the ’80s and ’90s. But I also thought the Steve Martin PINK PANTHER remakes were underrated, because he was doing high quality slapstick even if the movies were stupid.

    I just wish it weren’t so homophobic. I mean seriously, characters are terrified that people will think they’re gay. But I guess we can’t whitewash (straight wash?) history and it’s the ugly truth.

  67. ANIMAL HOUSE: It suffers unfortunately from the PSYCHO/HALLOWEEN syndrome. Which means that it is a good movie, but it has been parodied and copied to death, so that when I watched it for the first time, decades after it was released, I knew nearly every beat, gag and trope through pop culture.
    I’m not saying it’s a bad movie, but despite earning its they-did-it-first medal, it didn’t leave much of an impression on me.

  68. Man these movies are awesome. Vern’s right, a lot of it is just sketches, but I like the focus on jokes over generic plot. They really take a comic premise and run with it. In BACK IN TRAINING, the door exercise and every possible way a cadet could screw up. Zed screams at the door, Sweetchuck knocks himself out, Kirkland runs out of ammo. I bet there were more they cut before shooting.

    And again on the stunt work. When Hightower throws someone across the room, that’s a stuntman doing a dangerous jump/fall. I love franchises with recurring jokes, always messing with Harris/Mauser. Mahoney is a lovable scamp. I love the heroic nature of the original cast in 3 as the veteran mentors, walking down the hall to the theme song. We’re back! And the continuity, like Hesseman was Lassard’s brother in 2.

    FYI you can download “I’m gonna be somebody” on mp3. Any leads on the score? Is the tv series on YouTube or anywhere?

  69. The series also spawned one my favourite lines from The Simpsons
    “STEALING? How could you? We live in a society of laws. Why do you think I took you to see all those POLICE ACADEMY movies? FOR FUN? WELL I DIDN’T HEAR ANYONE ELSE LAUGHING, DID YOU?”

  70. “ah, ANIMAL HOUSE. What is the local opinion on that one?”

    it’s a classic, I re-watched it on blu ray last year

  71. I will drop everything I’m doing if someone flips past Animal House and tell them to turn it back. It’s best watched at three in the morning when you know you should go to bed, but fuck it, I want to finish Animal House.

  72. I think what also impressed me about ANIMAL HOUSE is how it begins, you follow Hulce and Flounder and figure it’ll be about them…but really they’re your portal to the rest of that gang and they more or less fade into the background as two more guys in this slapstick ensemble.

    For that matter, this will sound nuts, but it makes perfect sense. Belushi is like the shark in JAWS. He’s the “star” that most people talk about, but he’s not in every single scene but he’s so Bluto, you always wonder where that human FX is at. Which is indeed strange thing to say because you think or remember him being all over the movie, but not as much as you think.

    I always wondered what if Belushi didn’t overdose and did GHOSTBUSTERS as Ankroyd/Ramis had intended. Would this have knocked out Bill Murray?

    (or for that matter, that planned ANIMAL HOUSE sequel that died with Belushi.)

  73. Jareth Cutestory

    June 26th, 2012 at 9:42 pm

    CJ Holden: I watched MEATBALLS for the first time in decades a while ago and found the same thing: every single beat was familiar from the films that imitated it. MEATBALLS, however, was ultimately a very sweet movie, thanks in part to the amateur cast. And Murray plays that little moment where he admits he’s never lived with a woman beautifully. It’s that (relative) subtlety of Murray’s that leads me to think he’d have done fine without GHOSTBUSTERS, though, in my opinion, we as an audience would be poorer with a Belushi version.

    But I’d give Belushi the role played by Murray in CADDYSHACK in a heartbeat.

  74. Fred -“I’m Gonna be Somebody” by Jack Mack and the Heart Attack (the closing credits song from Police Academy 1) is on amazon mp3 for 99 cents. I’m gonna buy it when i get home from work. I’ve probably said it before, but that song plus the closing credits plus the characters marching and smiling, it’s probably one of the best feel-good endings of all time. It’s impossible not to smile. (By the way, I was a little heartbroken when I realized the Police Academy March was heavily “inspired” by the score from Patton – it’s such an iconic score I wish it was fully original)

    And even though part 1 was more of a “legitimate” movie than the sequels, part 4 was my favorite as a kid. Maybe because Tab Thacker (RIP) was from my hometown (Raleigh, NC), or maybe the jokes were just on the right wavelength for my developing brain. I also remember really not liking part 3 when I was a kid too – it was one of the first movies I “didn’t like” along with Beverly Hills Cop II.

    I definitely miss the clockwork reliability of the 80s. We had a new Freddy, a new Jason, and a new Police Academy movie every single year. We had 6 Bond movies that came out that decade. Stallone and Arnold both churned out a movie every year, sometimes two. It was an awesome time.

  75. “I remember loving this series as a child. I don’t even want to watch it now, it’d probably spoil the memories.”

    Completely there with you Paul except I always felt number 7 was a piece of complete hot garbage. When it comes to the Non-Gute Editions though I really do remember liking part 6 much more than part 5.

    I don’t dare revisit it because I worry that it would spoil the good memories I have of laughing myself silly as a child with this dumb series along with my late cousin (R.I.P.) who was the older brother figure in my life. POLICE ACADEMY to me was a great family bonding experience and I choose to remember it as such and not as a series of mediocre to awful comedies.

  76. The Original... Paul

    June 27th, 2012 at 9:49 am

    I really like “Animal House” but if it came to a choice between that and “Porky’s”, I would go with “Porky’s” in a heartbeat. I would probably choose either of them over a “Police Academy” movie.

    Did Halloween suffer because of its imitators? Yes there were a load of bad slasher movies out there, but I don’t think they reflected on “Halloween” the same way that, say, all the legion of bad “stickin’ it to my ex” R&B crap reflects on Gloria Gaynor. (Off-the-ball random comparisons for the win!) In a lot more relevant comparison: do you think the legion of “neo-slasher” movies, where the slightly ineffectual white guy is ALWAYS the one who did it, reflected badly on “Scream” because it effectively started the trend? Some people would no doubt claim that it did, but I’m not one of them…

  77. The Original... Paul

    June 27th, 2012 at 9:50 am

    “Completely there with you Paul except I always felt number 7 was a piece of complete hot garbage.”

    Broddie – oh, don’t worry, we don’t differ there either. I couldn’t get to the end of #7, even as a teenager. It was that terrible.

  78. Yeah, I know what you mean about part 7. The only good thing about it is the running gag with Lassard and the russian family, but even that one isn’t THAT funny.

  79. Also I just learned that part 1 was the most successful movie in Germany, back in 1984.

  80. There’s just a good natured vibe to all these movies, where they’re just doing everything they can think of just for the sake of giving you a good time. Vern’s right, every scene has a thing going on in it. That means there’s basically zero exposition. It’s all comedy.

    I love doing a different take on similar concepts in each one: the Harris pranks, the Winslow noises, the Tackleberry violence, the Zed screaming. It’s funnier when you know they have to do it and have to do something different this time.

    But the stunts are amazing. On DVD you can totally see the stunt doubles but I like that. It proves they’re doing really dangerous stunts that only professionals can do. That jet ski chase in BACK IN TRAINING is insane. Better than LIVE AND LET DIE and FACE/OFF’s boat chases.

    It’s really nice seeing Mahoney become the hero who even his superiors look up to by pant 3. Losing Guttenberg did hurt the sequels, but still pretty elaborate high concept sequences. Neal, BACK IN TRAINING has been my favorite so far. You’re right about BEVERLY HILLS COP III though. I also didn’t realize they were one a year. It must have felt like decades as a kid waiting for a new one.

    Also Will Ferrell should play Proctor in the remake.

  81. There’s also a ton of ADR in each one I noticed.

  82. You know I just remembered that Police Academy 3 was the first time I saw a movie on TV (it played on CBS) that actually ADDED scenes, probably b/c PA3 was so short it needed filler to fill up the 2 hr. time window. I mainly remember the scene where Tackleberry tries to get a kid to come down from a tree, but the kid is being a brat, so Tackleberry starts chainsawing it down. Here’s the list of added scenes, I wonder if they’re on the dvd? – http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0091777/alternateversions

    Speaking of which, CBS also played an interesting cut of Aliens (which is the first version I saw growing up) – it retained the “Ripley has a daughter” scene and the whole sentry gun sequence, but wisely removed the whole “Newt’s parents” scene, which not only is redundant but breaks the flow of having (almost) every scene involving Ripley. I still can’t believe that scene is part of the director’s cut of Aliens, he should have taken a hint from the CBS editors.

  83. At least on the German DVD, there are no additional scenes for PA 3 (or any other in the series). Not in the movie or as bonus material.

  84. And damn you, Vern and Fred. I think I will spend my weekend with re-watching the series. Maybe even including part 7.

  85. (of course the “damn you” wasn’t serious, because I like these movies.)

  86. Ferrell should be cast as Proctor, but he would more likely be cast as Tackleberry.

  87. I would cast Jason Statham as Tackleberry. Yeah, my Tack would be way more menacing than the real one.

  88. CJ, of course because the reboot has to be gritty and realistic.

    I earned a tweet from Vern for my extensive revisiting of these films, so I’m proud of myself. I think we’ve certainly extended this thread beyond was was probably meant to be a funny diversion of a review.

  89. Actually the thought behind my Statham casting is to cast people, who aren’t the obvious picks for a slapstick comedy. I’m sure when the real remake comes, it will be full of Apatow players plus guys from the current hit TV sitcoms.

  90. Which character would be killed off in a blatant attempt to raise stakes and show that no one in this police academy is safe?

  91. Of course Lassard. When the lovable old mentor gets brutally murdered, you know it’s ON, motherfuckers!

  92. Oh look, it’s Zed & Sweetchuck in German!

  93. How about some love for the late Tab Thacker, who was discovered by none other than Clint Eastwood when Clint apparently saw a picture of him in Time Magazine (??) and cast him as the 450 pound black guy in City Heat.

  94. We have lost way too many POLICE ACADEMers. I was so shocked about ten years ago when I looked up David Graff and found out he’d died of a heart attack. Now Bubba Smith, Debralee Scott and Art Metrano’s terrible accident.

  95. I don’t know why Vern tweeted these reviews but I’m glad. I wanted to know. Has there ever been a Franchise where the first movie was R, movie 2 was PG-13 part 3 was PG and eventually turned into a g rated cartoon for kids?

  96. Not exactly like that, but of course there is the example of ROBOCOP, one of the god damn hardest R rated movies ever, that of course had a PG 13 part 3 and a kid friendly-ish cartoon series. Also RAMBO had his own cartoon show too.

  97. Sternshein: I tweeted them because I felt they were relevant to Bill Clinton’s speech at the DNC. I missed it because I had to work, but he said:

    “She became, as she often said, our family’s designated worrier, born with an extra responsibility gene. The truth is we rarely disagreed on parenting, although she did believe that I had gone a little over the top when I took a couple of days off with Chelsea to watch all six ‘Police Academy’ movies back-to-back.”

    Of course there are 7 POLICE ACADEMY movies, but in his defense I imagine this marathon took place before the release of MISSION TO MOSCOW in 1994. Or maybe he doesn’t consider it canon.

  98. It was a bit harder for him to take a couple days off in 1994.

    Q&A: Clinton on movies | Interviews | Roger Ebert

    This is the transcript of my conversation with Bill Clinton on December 18, 1999. There was a little chat before this where as we were being miked. Clinton talks about the AFI list of the top 100 movies and then switched to the HBO movie, "RKO 281," about the making of "Citizen Kane."

    Found this online today, think it’s relevant to the Clinton aspect of the discussion at least.

  99. Oh man, i heard Chelsea’s reference to the Police Academy franchise yesterday but somehow missed Bill’s line about them the night before. I’m in disbelief but am also really glad this series got namedropped two nights in a row during the DNC.

    Wouldn’t that have been crazy if Bill said “six” instead of “seven” because he skipped the R-rated Part 1 but included Mission to Moscow? I can imagine watching Commandant Lassard getting blown under the podium with Chelsea would have been a little awkward.

  100. Steve Guttenberg: What Bill Clinton saw in 'Police Academy'

    This week a former President, at a national convention, decided to share with about 30 million of his closest friends, a story about his daughter, the importance of meaningful parenting, and a movie series that kept him laughing, writes the star of "Police Academy" Steve Guttenberg.

  101. Funny review, but a bit unfair. Countless people liked these movies back then (I sort of did), and found them funny.

    I don’t like these cynical “Let’s crap on old stuff because it’s old”-type of articles.

  102. What’s your point? Vern gave these movies as fair a shake as he gives any movie, which is to say the fairest shake you’ll find anywhere on the internet. Is he supposed to modify his opinion because you enjoyed these movies as a kid?

  103. Yeah, please don’t take this as us ganging up on you or as a sign to never post your opinion on here again, Dar, but if there is one thing that you can’t say about Vern, is that he shits on movies for superficial Buzzfeed/Red Letter Media/Rifftrax/clickbait reasons like “It’s old”.

    But over the years I’ve learned that he doesn’t really enjoy a certain kind of comedy and unfortunately the POLICE ACADEMY movies fall exactly into that category. (And in all fairness: This is one of the reasons why he rarely reviews comedies.)

  104. Dubbing Steve Guttenberg “the Gute” makes this review an instant classic. That alone is a huge contribution to cinematical analyzation.

    Also, I want to live in a world where these are the opening lines in a film trailer (for what I can only surmise would be a very meta and very bad film):

    “Sometimes, in a man’s ongoing journey toward a fuller understanding of his world, he must watch the POLICE ACADEMY series of films”

  105. “Don´t Hassle the Hoff””, ” Never shit on The Shatner”…ehhhh… “Don´t ´chute on The Gute”…? nevermind…

  106. Although Vern has made many great, original contributions to the analysis of the films of cinema (“ACR”, “mega-acting” to name just a couple) people have been calling him ‘The Gute’ long before this review. In fact, I think that line is making fun of the kind of irony-soaked assholes who use the term as a smug put-down.

  107. Really?! I had no idea. At least I can take comfort in knowing it was Vern who first called Ronald Reagan the “Gipper.” Er…

  108. Honestly, I had not heard anyone say “The Gute” before. I was shocked when I found out that Gutenberg actually refers to himself as that. But I’m sure it existed before I used it.

  109. My going hypothesis is that you did, in fact, coin the term and that time travel may be involved.

  110. I’m glad you touched on how kinda weird it is that we, as a nation lovvvved this stuff in the 80s. These movies were huge! I knew about them way before I saw any of them. Seems strange now, such a different world back then.

  111. They introduce Mahoney with Relax (Body Double) playing, which thuds ominously under the rest of the scene, making it seem like there’s a simmering rage beneath his comic glibness and beatific casualness. Later, when he’s been arrested and taken to the police station for the wanton destruction of property committed during the ‘flamboyant protest quitting over a petty slight’ that he coolly, impulsively performs in the first scene, he is completely familiar with and completely unfazed by the booking procedures. It’s like he’s a sociopath on par with Alec Baldwin in Miami Blues or Jake Gyllenhaal in Nightcrawler.

    Also, Stripes is the Black Christmas to the Police Academy franchise’s Halloween.

  112. They should reboot POLICE ACADEMY but have it address stuff like Black Lives Matter, it’d be a laugh riot!

  113. Weren’t Key & Peele once attached to a remake?

  114. Key & Peele were (still are?) attached to do a reboot.

    My personal idea for a reboot (which Key & Peele would be perfect to spearhead even if they weren’t already attached) would see a city ordinance passed in the wake of a Ferguson, MO, type tragedy. It mandates that the people have the right to be policed by members of their own community and thus the police department must be made up of its jurisdictional constituents, effectively firing most of the current force. Despite their levity and eccentricities, the new, local cadets prove themselves by keeping a protest that they fundamentally agree with from getting dangerously out of hand.

  115. I thought GET OUT was cool but Key and Peele are notoriously unfunny. As someone who unironically likes the first 2 PA movies I wouldn’t bother ever seeing it.

  116. They are notoriously unfunny? Since when? I don’t hear that very often.

  117. I think they’re corny as hell but mileage varies. Comedy is that subjective but my flavor their brand of it definitely is not. Jordan Peele grew up with my step sis so I’m proud of his success but I find him about as funny as cancer. Key is a little better but not by much. I hate how he doesn’t know how to deliver a punchline and let it be. He tends to beat them like they were a dead horse.

  118. Key and Peele are the complete opposite of “unfunny”.

    Anyway, what a treat to see these reviews. Last month I was on a Transatlantic flight with a terrible movie selection but they randomly had Policy Academy 5 which I enjoyed the hell out of. And Jones does that same kung fu dubbing joke that was never funny in any of the first four movies. Does he do that in part 6 and 7 too?

    Is is actually the Gute? I always thought it was the GOOCH. I’m going to rewatch that Party Down episode and see.

  119. Just read both of these POLICE ACADEMY reviews and all related discussion because somebody bumped up the second batch with their comment. I’m not sure I’d ever read these particular articles before.

    Anyway, for such throw away movies, there is something about them. Inspirational somehow. And weirdly high production value and scope. And I was the target age as they came out, so they hit the right mark. By 5, 6, 7 I was a bit over it, but I’d still check in for a laugh or 2.

    But if anything truly resonates, yes…it’s the music. I find it playing in my head when I am accomplishing a full day of “adulting”. Going to the bank, paying rent, taking care of something at the DMV…that sort of thing. Maybe I am one of these lovable goof offs….that every once in awhile has to get this stuff just done. Get my shit together so to speak. And that music really helps with the mindset, even if you can’t pull any of the wacky pranks in real life.

    Also, I haven’t gotten around to them yet, but their sleazier/weirder rip-off cousins the VICE ACADEMY series made it up to 6 movies as well!!! I see the trailers for these sometimes, and they look like the wilder side of 80s schlock. Lots of wild hair and colors. And, at least judging from the trailers and 2 line IMDB descriptions, way more outlandish plots.

    They are all the directed by the same guy, who also directed the MST anti-classic HOBGOBLINS, and it’s fairly recent cash in sequel.

  120. Lance Kinsey, the actor who plays Proctor, has an uncredited role in X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST as “Pentagon Security”. That screams inside joke cameo. So THAT’s where proctor ended up….

  121. Our elementary school showed us at least one of the “Police Academy” movies, possibly more than one, during our last week of school. I remember the glue prank on Mauser, the portable toilet prank on Proctor, and Schtulman’s cat’s poo in his cereal (maybe Schtulman is related to Stu Hart). I remember another child turning to me and explaining Lassard’s reaction at the end of the podium scene: “He thinks the boy did it.” I think those are all from different movies. Zed seemed genuinely scary when I was a child, so having him join the police in the next movie was kind of awesome. House was lovable (the police cadet, not the mean doctor). One of the times I saw “Citizens on Patrol” must have been in the mid-1990s because I remember thinking “Holy shit, that’s David Spade” and I wouldn’t have known who he was in 1987.

    Steve Guttenberg was good-looking, and he did look good in the sleeveless beach cop uniform. Showed off his biceps. And his punk-rocker undercover disguise was kind of hot too. Of the two expressions you mentioned, the first one comes across to me as “I’m smirking ironically, but my eyebrows are raised in a non-threatening, almost worried expression,” kind of like the weirdly fatalistic, wistful way that Barf says “I’m my own best friend” in “Spaceballs.” Reportedly he (Guttenberg, not Barf) enjoyed the joke about him in that “Simpsons” episode with the Stonecutters, so he’s at peace with his legacy in show business.

    CJ Holden, great point about Mahoney’s compassionate side. Maybe there’s something to the save-the-cat rule of screenwriting.

    The last time a TV channel was playing all the “Police Academy” movies I made it through all of them except “Mission to Moscow.” In theory I don’t remember there being anything really wrong with it, but I never finished watching it, so it must have worn me down somehow. It wasn’t the fact that they couldn’t get Guttenberg as Mahoney any more; IIRC Matt McCoy was acceptable as the new cocky young guy. Then again he’s not in “Mission to Moscow,” FWIW.

    I saw most of “Don’t Tell Her It’s Me” under the title “The Boyfriend School.” But my friend and I were fighting and we both got angry and stormed out and we didn’t finish watching it. It may I have it here on tape somewhere, but it still has negative associations from that fight, so I still get depressed whenever I think about it. But that’s not the movie’s fault, and Steve Guttenberg looked cool in his biker-from-New-Zealand persona.

    Michael Winslow had a minor role as a reporter in “Going Under” (1991), starring Bill Pullman as a neurotic Navy submarine captain, plus a ton of other comedy names. As far as I can remember Winslow’s role wasn’t sound-effects-based. I hope audiences didn’t feel cheated that the movie offered them Michael Winslow and then didn’t let him do sound effects.

    Re: Mr. Majestyk, I too keep quoting “Niagara Falls” to myself. Especially when McDonald’s is in the middle of its Monopoly promotion; every time I get a Niagara Falls game piece I hear David Johansen’s voice saying it.

    Joe Flaherty is a national treasure, and Jim Varney had a wide acting range outside of just Ernest P. Worrell. The two of them were the best things in “Snowboard Academy” (1997).

    I’d agree with Vern that the Blue Oyster material doesn’t seem that homophobic. The patrons aren’t presented as bad people, just intimidating because they look so tough. We’re not being asked to laugh at them. Blanks & Copeland have a moment of mild gay panic but are not about to attack the patrons (which saves us from the possibility of the movie expecting us to find such an attack funny), and anyway Blanks & Copeland are the villains, so their attitude should not be taken as the movie’s point of view. Also, FWIW, when Mahoney emerges from the podium and Lassard thinks Mahoney was the source of the blow job, Mahoney doesn’t seem to mind. And either Blanks or Copeland calls him “Mahomo” and it doesn’t get to him. Plus, the song playing the first time we see Mahoney is Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s “Relax.” Check out the original video for that song! If the Blue Oyster had been having a leather/drag/toga event with live tiger wrestling that night, the cadets’ heads would have exploded.

    Michael Caine returned to Eastern Europe for those two 1990s “Harry Palmer” movies with Michael Sarrazin and Jason Connery.

    In that “Simpsons” quote Homer did make an exception for Michael Winslow! “Well I didn’t hear anybody laughing! Did you?! Except at that guy who made sound effects.” (car vroom) (power tools) (farts) (honks) (explosion) (laughter)

    I never saw the “Police Academy” cartoon. Someone at school liked it. There was a Marvel comic of it (from their Star Comics imprint of kids’ comics). I should check it out. It might have been too cartoony for me at the time but now its eightiesness could save it.

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