Police Academy Or Blues Brothers

Ash Isaac

Does a chill run through your spine when a new Fast and Furious film is announced? Do you sink into despondency when yet another Resident Evil rears it mutagenic head? Were you to track the pathology of all these never-ending franchises then all roads would lead to the Daddy of them all: Police Academy. Spanning ten years, six sequels, two television series and a host of imitators , it is the gift that keeps on giving despite all protestations and objections to the contrary.

Police Officer. Tough job, right? Rigorous selection process, high professional standards, long hours, endless paperwork and having to deal with criminals those times of the day when you’re not at your desk eating donuts. Well, not according to Police Academy. In this film, idiocy, thuggery, ignorance, laziness and a criminal record are not considered a barrier to entering public service.

There’s a new mayor in town and she has decreed that any willing and able applicant to the Police Academy be accepted for a place regardless of ability, aptitude or mental status. The decree has the intended effect of attracting the following cadets: Cadet Mahoney, (Steve Guttenberg) trained at the Downey Jr school of roguish charm. Cadet Tackleberry, (David Graf), trained at the Pistorius school of ‘shoot first, turn the lights on after’. Cadet Hightower, (Bubba Smith), trained at the Michael Clarke Duncan school of taciturn giants. Cadet Thompson (Kim Cattrall), trained at the Kim Cattrall school of coquettish yet sassy and strong female role models. It also features a young Clancy Wiggum before he became the Chief Wiggum of Simpsons fame.

Everyone’s favourite cadet is of course Michael Winslow’s Larvelle Jones, man with a thousand voices, sound effects and noises, what better qualification needed to pound the mean streets? Not all is well at the Academy though as not everyone agrees with the mayor’s inclusive policy including Chief of Police Hurst who longs for the good old days at the academy when all were turned away if they didn’t meet the strict selection criteria (white males). Hurst pressurises Academy commandant Lassard to ensure that these new cadets don’t finish their training and drop out. Hurst has a willing lieutenant in Lt. Harris, a slimy and underhand officer keen to clamber up the slippery Police pole by impressing Hurst and making the cadets lives so miserable they quit.

Thus begins the training phase of the film where we get to know more about the idiosyncrasies and foibles of the diverse group of cadets. We learn that Mahoney likes to spend his evening swilling a beer whilst peering through the window of the ladies showers, Tackleberry enjoys staying in his room polishing his vast assortment of guns and sharpening his commando knives, and Jones likes to stay in his room practising all his various noises and accents. None of them are quitting despite Mahoney’s best efforts to do so and everyone seems to be sticking to the straight and narrow thin blue pathway to becoming a fully fledged officer.

Disaster strikes when Cadet Hightower is unjustly expelled from the Academy for reacting to a racial slur by tipping over a car. The rosy existence the cadets were enjoying is further shattered when a large scale riot breaks out downtown forcing them to intervene despite not reaching the adequate level of training. The much reviled Lt Harris is taken hostage by a sharpshooting rioter who happily takes potshots at the cowering ranks of cadets desperately trying to save their hated mentor. Salvation is at hand in the hulking figure of Hightower who returns from exile to save the very man who banished him. Awww.

If you like your comedy physical with no skimping on the slapstick then you will no doubt be aware of the charms of Police Academy with its set pieces including a man being catapulted up a horse’s backside and a hooker accidentally fellating a septuagenarian man. Its style of bawdy, rambunctious and, yes, puerile humour clearly struck a chord with the cinema-going public who lapped up the original as well as the subsequent sequels before things came to a merciful head. All good things come to an end, and, thankfully some of the bad things too. As for me, I am going to lock myself away until such a time as Vin Diesel and Paul W S Anderson extend the same clemency to their respective franchises. I won’t hold my breath. Fast 10 anyone?

About Ash Isaac

I am a contributor of questionable taste, origin and talent. My one claim to fame is that I was born in the same hospital as Cliff Richard. I am still in possession of my soul unlike Sir Cliff who sold his to Samael the Desolate in return for eternal youth and the friendship of Sue Barker.