Sunday, February 6, 2011

Police Academy

Police Academy; comedy, USA, 1984; D: Hugh Wilson, S: Steve Guttenberg, Michael Winslow, G. W. Bailey, David Graf, Bubba Smith, Donovan Scott, Marion Ramsey, George Gaynes, Leslie Easterbrook, Kim Cattrall

The newly elected mayor abolishes every criteria for the local Police Academy, which means that the institution now accepts everyone as a recruit. Numerous wackos thus gather at the Academy, but Lieutenant Harris wants to eliminate most of them by drilling them out of the police education. Among the cadets is the goofy Mahoney who only applied to avoid going to jail, but with time actually gets fond of the idea as a police officer, making friends with other cadets like Karen, giant Hightower, sound effects mimic Jones and others. After riots erupt in the city, Mahoney and Hightower save Harris from a criminal and get a medal.

Originator of one of the most popular and longest running movie series of the 80s, the first "Police Academy" film isn't a great comedy, but has funny moments and is definitely the best of the seven films. With only one sophisticated joke in the entire film delivered through a line ("I thought at least Hightower would make it as a police officer. If all policemen looked like him, there would be no crime."), Hugh Wilson's hit is no 'high level' comedy, suffering too much from cheap writing and crude jokes, some of which are even slightly mean-spirited, whereas the story crammed too many characters, many of whom turn out more as extras (i.e. Kim Cattrall's character Karen is so underwritten that she doesn't even get the chance to show her talent), which is visible in the fact that half of them didn't survive in the sequel(s). However, there is some charm in the simple story of "human", imperfect men and women in uniform which carries it even today, and those characters which were written with care really turned out memorable and gained cult status, like the gentle giant Hightower, strict blond police woman Callahan and Jones, the man with thousand sound effects. He even delivers one of the best jokes in the film: in a scene, the cadets are standing in line and a strict police inspector is passing by them, but his shoes suddenly start squeaking, so he stops and turns around not knowing how to explain it, oblivious that Jones was making the squeaking noise all along.


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