2 out of 5
Directed by: Hugh Wilson
I’m happy I don’t have nostalgia for this kind of 80s flick. Casual nudity and unfortunate stereotypes / casual racism and sexism of all kinds are, admittedly, part of a lot of 80s films, but then you have the ‘comedies’ which tread mostly and solely in that territory, and seemed to be made by / aimed toward a very particular white, male, Beavis & Butthead mentality that must’ve overrode non-white, non-male, non-B&B personality types to consider the flicks entertaining.
To step back a bit, some of them can be entertaining. There are pieces of Police Academy that are okay. The wiki page makes mention of director Hugh Wilson’s desire to step away from the more puerile comedy in the script, only to have it hacked back in by demanding producers, and so the film isn’t drenched in the stuff, but it leaps between its fair share of regrettable moments and nonsense. Elsewhere, Steve Guttenberg has some good lines as lovable scamp Mahoney, and G.W.Bailey and George Gaynes offer broad but game performances as the overzealous authoritarian, Lt. Harris, and the washes-his-hands-of-it Commandant Lassard, respectively. A couple of gags tickle a sense of inspiration, and then a whole lot of it just wades in harmless Dumb, sort of whipped into a constant state of pleasant-enough thanks to an always gleeful score by Robert Folk.
And though the basic idea is clearly just a premise for goofy cop comedy – no one wants to be a cop, so let’s throw out the requirements and let anyone in! – I respect that the flick sorta kinda gives a justification for Mahoney being forced into the titular academy, with the aim of getting kicked out, even if that justification is pretty quickly forgotten. It tried.
And that’s Police Academy. It tries throughout, and seems pretty pleased with itself for doing so, and most of the time it has a silly enough grin on its face that you can let it pass. But then David Graf’s Tackleberry creeps on girls undressing for no reason at a party, and Guttenberg watches girls shower through ground level bathrooms with open windows, and Kim Cattrall and Guttenberg make out without any pretense, and ‘sleep is for fags’ and there’s a requisite gay bar joke, and it mightily fights racism in such a lazy way that it makes you wonder why they even bothered putting it in the script…
This was rated R, so I have to assume it was aimed towards adults, but it sort of rates as kids’-fare humor. Even given that, I remember always seeing this or a sequel on TV when I was younger, and I never had the patience to sit through any of them. So, uh, yeah. Make of that what you will, and maybe you watched it at the right time for it to rank some nostalgia points with you.