Blast from the Past: Police Academy

Cert: 15 Runtime: 96 minsDirector: Hugh Wilson Cast: Steve Guttenberg, G.W Bailey, Bubba Smith and Kim Cattrall


In Memory of Bubba Smith

One of the most classics of comedies of all time is Police Academy, after the recent death of Bubba Smith I thought it would be fitting to review the first movie. As a crime wave sweeps through a city that doesn’t have enough police officers, the mayor decides that part of the problem may stem from overly restrictive qualifications for police officers, so she opens the door of the city’s Police Academy to anyone who wants to join. Chief Henry Hurst does not agree with the mayor’s decision. Soon, the academy is overrun with misfits, including parking lot attendant Carey Mahoney (Steve Guttenberg) , who has been arrested before. Captain Reed (George Robertson), a longtime friend of Mahoney’s father, gives Mahoney the choice of taking the 14 week course and joining the force, or going to jail. Mahoney chooses the academy. Karen Thompson (Kim Cattral) is an attractive cadet whom Mahoney has his eyes on. Florist Moses Hightower (Bubba Smith)is a mountain of a man who likes to tend flowers. And Larvell Jones has the ability to imitate the sound of virtually anything. Also in the academy are guy-magnet Debbie Callahan (Leslie Eastbrook), squeaky voiced Laverne Hooks (Marion Ramsey), gun loving Eugene Tackleberry (David Graf), and Leslie Barbara (Donovan Scott), a cadet who has been picked on one too many times. Befuddled Commandant Eric Lassard (George Gaynes) and his lackey, Lieutenant Thaddeus Harris (G.W Bailey), are not exactly thrilled with the new recruits. As Lassard and Harris try to wash their hands of the recruits, Mahoney and his classmates become all the more determined to make good, even when one of the recruits accidentally starts a chain reaction of fights that lead to a riot in the city.

Police Academy is just harmless fun. Is it stupid?? Oh my yes!! Cheap, dumb, pointless, low budget?? Yes, yes, yes and yes. Does any of that matter?? Not when it comes to the Police Academy. I mean you gotta give it some credit for spawning no less than 6 sequels!!! This is the film that started it all and for whatever odd reason you will find it will endear itself to you when it’s all over. Something has to be said for the fact that it was made for just over 4 million dollars and grossed well over 100 million world wide. That pays for as many ridiculous pointless sequels as they want.

The plot and premise is actually pretty good….the mayor lifts any and all restrictions on police academy recruits enabling people of all shapes, sizes, skills, and intelligence to join the academy. On top of that Carey Mahoney gets himself into trouble with the police and is forced to join the academy for training and he can’t quit or he’ll go to jail…but he can get thrown out, or try anyways. Police Academy really only works because of the characters. It’s not even really the actors because let’s face it the acting is campy as hell but the characters are so outlandish they are memorable. Steve Guttenberg who was really at the height of his career plays the wise cracking, prank pulling Carey Mahoney. His sarcasm, wit, and caring for his fellow cadets make him a great hero to the film. He probably does the best job in the film of acting which isn’t saying all that much but the film is not about acting, it’s about comedic timing and Guttenberg does a good job. I won’t go over the entire cast but rather just the ones who the film kinda used as main characters. G.W. Bailey is the perfect protagonist to the film. He’s mean, and you love to hate him and he’s the perfect balance to Mahoney’s character. Their characters are fun to watch square off. Bubba Smith as the larger than life Moses Hightower, is quiet but funny in his own way and his size brings him a lot of great funny moments. Donovan Scott is great too as the underdog, overweight, made fun of guy who you wanna see kick some butt and he does. David Graf, Michael Winslow, Bruce Mahler, and Marion Ramsey all play some diverse and funny characters each one with their own schtick and shortcomings. You’d think with all these characters it would be too much but they are all used in small doses to keep the comedy rolling and it works pretty well. George Gaynes plays Cmndt. Eric Lassard, the rather unintelligent, aging, senile leader of the Academy. His role is kind of a cult classic and he does have some great moments and he adds a touch of class to the cast.

Director Hugh Wilson hasn’t really done a whole bunch before or after Police Academy, nothing that stands out anyways, but he did put together this great cast and made a really stupid movie that people seem to love. As I watched it I couldn’t help but think how incredibly dumb it all was but then something would happen to really make me chuckle and when it was done I realized that for some strange reason, I liked it. It just has a little something and I think it’s the cast and the way the movie is put together, it absolutely doesn’t take itself too seriously. If you’re looking for an eighties comedy that has everything you would expect then Police Academy is the one to look for.








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