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Saturday, 14 January 2017

Retro Review: Police Academy (1984)

Police Academy
Cast: Steve Guttenberg, Kim Cattrell, G.W Bailey, Bubba Smith, Michael Graft 
Genre: Comedy
Worldwide Box Office Gross: approximately $146 million

Plot: A group of good-hearted but incompetent misfits enter the police academy, but the instructors there are not going to put up with their pranks

'Standard Affair For Police Academy Marred By Forced Humour That Tries Too Hard To Be Funny'

The plot of this film sees rebel Mahoney (Steve Guttenberg, who apart from Three Men & a Baby, Three Men & A Little Lady, disappeared off the face of the cinematic earth, right after the 1980s)
 along with a bunch of other misfits and degenerates signing up to the police academy and with that, a whole bunch of silly shenanigans are unleashed and take place. 

I enjoyed the Police Academy films as a youngster growing up in the 1980s and overtime, in re-watching them as an adult, I just don't enjoy them as I do, nowadays. Penned by the writer of Bachelor House starring Tom Hanks, I couldn't get into that film, due to the characters of whom just didn't strike me as being appealing or amusing enough.  

If you have seen any of the other Police Academy films, you'll notice that the comedy is very slapstick-based and low-brow farce, which I don't mind because I am into that type of humour. The only other films that are similar to Police Academy are Airplane and Naked Gun, with the latter as pretty much the same film, but it has one main cop character, Frank Drebin, as opposed to an ensemble cast of characters. The first of many, the original Police Academy's success spawned 6 more films in the franchise, which gotten so bad including a dire 6th instalment and even more dire 7th offering. In all honesty, once you've seen one Police Academy film, you've seen them all; they are all practically the same, even with the different plot, there really isn't much to differentiate from one another. 

You have characters such as the little Black woman who occasionally shouts a lot, Tackleberry who is obsessed with firearms, the motormouth Jones character who makes silly noises - he's like a hyperactive version of Robin Williams, Callahan the tall blonde with large breasts that gets the guys attentions and so-called bad boy, Mahoney. Yet as different as each of them is, they are written and portrayed in a very one-dimensional manner with very little scope that becomes tiresome. It's like they each have one trait that supposedly comes across as being funny and humourous. I didn't know the names of all the characters, although quite frankly, it is one of the film franchises where one doesn't and needn't have to know all the names of the major characters. 

Hearing that main Police Academy score playing throughout drives me nuts; they overplay it in every film, especially in scenes that don't really need it. 

Dumb humour it may be and a totally daft film, but that is what it is supposed to be & it is full of pratfalls and sight gags, which become less funny on repeated viewings; though if you are more into sophisticated humour (i.e your Steve Martins, Woody Allens as such), then you may find Police Academy too over-the-top silly to be appreciated. The first film is also the only film that sadly resorts to crass humour involving homophobic situations and referencing women as b*****s or portraying them as sex objects to be gawped at. 

Police Academy wasn't the first comedy farce film to be released in the 1980s - that honour goes to Airplane and it did it far better and the slapstick and comedy were executed better. Here, meanwhile, it feels organic and forced and tries too hard to be funny. Despite the massive success it has garnered, in hindsight, there is nothing truly great about it and didn't make me laugh until my insides hurt. It didn't have more of the funnier and better physical jokes that weren't being heavily reliant on cliches and jokes on people's physical appearance. It just feels too cliched and all too obvious. Though why they made six more films out of this is beyond me; then again, by milking the franchise to death, they practically killed it. 

At most, this film is nothing but a series of gags about people joining the police force, put together; some work, some don't and others you just don't care much for. 

Final Verdict:

Only marginally regarded as a classic though not by right and not outright, when really it is that the sequels are so poor by comparison that it makes Police Academy look far superior. But even this film isn't all that great and some of the jokes do not hold up well today and not to mention they are less funnier. 

Police Academy didn't hold my attention longer than it should have; that, and being not all of the gags are belly-achingly funny. 

I'd take Airplane over Police Academy; at least that film garners laughs consistently.


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