- Movie Rating -

Police Academy (1984)

| March 23, 1984

I suppose, maybe, on some weird juvenile level Police Academy might be funny.  I mean, in the same way as that guy in Math class who made duck noises with the arm pits.  It was funny to somebody.  And yes, I tend to have a juvenile sense of humor.  I like crude, rude R-rated jokes, but I had to struggle through this movie which is so slow-paced and misfires jokes so often that I had to wonder if the filmmakers didn’t keep the ruined takes.

The movie seems to take place in a weird other-world where a police academy is run like a military school, with all of the slovenly misfit outcasts are sent to teach them a lesson.  I wondered, as critic Gene Siskel did, if perhaps the movie wasn’t originally meant to be about a military academy but perhaps the dismal failure of Up the Academy made them switch gears.

It wouldn’t matter.  The jokes are basically the same no matter whether this is a military academy, a police academy, Olympics camp or vacation bible school.  A group of rough-hewn misfits from all walks of life – the smart-ass, the wimp, the big black guy, the sexy girl, the mousey woman who roars, etc. – are sent to a police academy where they will endure a 14-week boarding school experience which, apparently, will end with all of them becoming police officers.

How does this work?  How does forcing criminals into police training make them want to be cops?  Wouldn’t it be better to put them through boot camp?  The movie never really explains this.

Of course, this wouldn’t matter if the movie were funny but something gets lost in the editing.  Jokes cut off before they really get going.  Some scenes have a build-up but no pay off, and some subplots have a build-up but no pay off.  Take, for example, a stereotypical Latin Lothario.  He arrives at the academy in a convertible with a bunch of sexy girls and presents himself as a gigolo.  Later in the movie he reveals himself to be just a guy who is putting on an act, but there’s no payoff, no joke to be had.  Even at a dramatic level this doesn’t work.  There are dozens of things like this, the beginnings of jokes that go nowhere.

I sat stone-faced through much of this film except for one thing, a stand-up comic named Michael Winslow whose talent is his ability to make weird sounds with his mouth, like rap music and helicopters and video game noises.  I’ve seen him before.  He appeared for about 30 seconds in Cheech and Chong’s movie Nice Dreams doing a really funny impression of Jimi Hendrix.  Here he has more to do.  Sadly, he kind of exists around the edges of the film.  I wanted more of him and less jokes that went nowhere.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(1984) View IMDB Filed in: Comedy