Dir: Jerry Paris, 1986
It was clear to Warner Bros. that the Police Academy films were lucrative investments, so a decision to install a third episode of the wacky cops was quickly made.
Like its predecessor, the third entry was toned down from the original 1984 film but they went even further, making it almost a kids film.
The plot is very simple; one of two police academies is going to be shut down as the government is not prepared to keep funding them both.
Commandant Eric Lassard, brings in his finest officers (Mahoney, Hightower et al) to help the academy succeed by training the new recruits and being the academy that stays open.
However, Commandant Mauser wants Lassard to fail, so does everything he possibly can to ruin Lassard’s chances.
By this point in the series, all the jokes had been exhausted and had to resort to recycling gags and set ups from the previous two installments. It’s all familiar territory which goes a long way to explaining why there is still some fun to be had.
Despite receiving top billing, Steve Guttenberg is no longer the star of the films. A vast change in his character, he isn’t the smart mouthed, trouble causer that he once was, being relegated to the great guy with a good heart, boring background character.
Bobcat Goldthwaite returns as Zed, albeit as a reformed member of society and police cadet. The most memorable and funniest of all the roles, Goldthwaite outshines the rest of the cast and has all the funny moments.
Shop owner and former nemesis of Zed, Sweetchuck, also returns and provides a perfect double act with the erstwhile gang leader.
With the exception of David Graf as the possibly unhinged, Tackleberry, all the original characters have become stale and run the course. There’s nothing for them to do or have anywhere to go. Even Tackleberry is a one note joke, but Graf is able to stretch the madness out with an immaturity and childlike innocence so it doesn’t feel old.
All in all, the producers would have been wise to have left it after this one and allowed the series to end on a high. But, money talks, and producer, Paul Maslansky, was persuaded to continue churning out a further four more films with each one getting progressively sillier.
Not a work of art, but still entertaining.