Police Academy

Dir: Hugh Wilson, 1984


The Police Academy series of films are given a raw deal by critics and cinema snobs. Along with the likes of Porky’s, Bachelor Party and Revenge Of The Nerds, the capers of the crazy coppers were held in contempt for the raunchy and adult humour, that was so prevalent in the early eighties.

The mayor has relaxed all the requirements needed to join the police force. This results in an influx of people enrolling in the Police Academy, many of which are for to be there.

Frequent troublecauser, Carey Mahoney (Steve Guttenberg), is given the option of either going to jail or join the academy. However, their is one condition: he can’t quit.

Not fancying a few months of cadet training, Mahoney spends his time trying all manner of ways to get thrown out, primarily by pissing off Lieutenant Harris (G.W. Bailey).

There’s no denying that Police Academy is dated in its humour and is, in places, rather questionable, but that doesn’t stop it from being funny. It’s a product of its time and should be accepted that way.

Out of the franchise, this is the most entertaining as it’s an adult film and expresses that. The following entries became more family-friendly and slapstick orientated. Police Academy doesn’t shy away from sex, nudity or bad language which, surprisingly in the latter’s case, is kept to bare minimum.

It’s this film that is responsible for launching the careers of many well known faces. Sex & The City star, Kim Cattrall, was springboarded to fame by her appearance in this. Hot off the success of Bob Clark’s Porky’s, Cattrall’s sexy Cadet Thompson opened all the doors to Hollywood and she followed this with starring roles in Mannequin and Big Trouble In Little China. However, it does make you wonder why, as her role in this isn’t particularly strong or prominent. Relegated to merely an extra, Cattrall isn’t given any funny lines and the character is made, more or less, redundant.

Police Academy is a brilliant example of how secondary characters can take the lead. Main star, Steve Guttenberg, is likeable as the fun loving, smart mouthed Mahoney but is overshadowed by Michael Winslow as the beat boxing, sound effects making, Larvell Jones. Equally as brilliant, is the late David Graf as gun mad, army veteran Eugene Tackleberry. Sleeping with a loaded .44 Magnum at the side of his head and destroying a shooting range, Graf throws himself into the role and creates an hilarious character, which will have you in stitches.

Being dated, the film is home to a few archaic stereotypes and racist dialogue. Although the racism isn’t endorsed, the fact that it appears exhibits how outmoded the script is. Uses of the terms “queer”, “spade” and “jigaboo” causes a few eyebrows to be raised in this, more, cultured era. A known gay club called The Blue Oyster Bar, depicts all of its patrons as leather wearing effeminates with handle bar moustaches and a proclivity for policemen.

But, you’re not laughing at gay people. It’s the uncomfortable feeling that the cast find themselves in that is funny. Self-proclaimed macho characters, such as Blankes and Copeland, being made to tango and snuggle during the slow dance is where the comedy is. The depiction might be old, but homophobic the film isn’t. Former porn star, Georgina Spelvin, makes a cameo as a prostitute in the infamous podium gag. Although brief, Spelvin shows a talent for acting and, maybe, could have been quite successful had she chosen to tread that path, rather than the porn route.

There’s nothing clever about Police Academy and the film is aware of that. Everybody involved is just out to have a good time and give the audience a few giggles. In all honesty, what more could you ask for?

Still as funny today as it was back in 1984, Police Academy will guarantee you some great laughs and a good night In front of the box.


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