Police Academy (1984, Hugh Wilson)


In this first movie, a bunch of misfits sign up for the local police force. Sketch-show-type hilarity ensues with a 15 certificate, mostly entertainingly. Here I begin my attempt to track the series’s running gags and clichés…

Mahoney flirts and pulls pranks! – He crashes a dickhead’s car because he doesn’t like him (“It fits!”); pretends to be an officer and tries to trick cadet Karen into revealing her thighs; enjoys a beer as he peers into the women’s shower room; cons Blanks and Copeland into going to gay bar The Blue Oyster; tricks Barbara into walking in on the commandant’s wife in the shower; and puts shoe polish on Harris’s loud-hailer.

Hightower uses his strength! – He looks at Blanks threateningly after he uses a racist term; pushes a wall over rather than climb over it; pulls a gym rope out of its socket; and tips a car onto its roof in anger.

Tackleberry shoots! – He’s in the first scene, as a nightwatchman in an office building – he bursts into a room shooting wildly, then switches on the light to see it’s his surprise leaving party. Also: he enthusiastically asks the supply officer, “When do we get guns?”; uses a Dirty Harry Magnum on the firing range (“My mom gave it to me…”); gets Barbara to slap him to see if he can take it; revels in the gunfire exercises; shoots a cat out of a tree; and is distraught to have missed the gun fight at the end.

Jonesey’s sound effects! – Beat music when we first meet him; gunfire to scare a roomful of people; footsteps to wind up a policeman; electronic noises after banging his head; a computer game when bored late at night; a fake Tannoy announcement; an electric razor while shaving; horse neighs to annoy Harris; helicopter sounds while climbing some stairs; electronic visor on his helmet; and gunfire to disperse a crowd.

Hooks shouts ‘Dirtbag!’ – She’s meek and nervous when Harris shouts at her, then can’t answer him in class; she’s likewise rubbish in a robbery roleplay – all set up for the end when she screams, “Don’t move, dirtbag!” to a criminal.

Callahan’s chest! – She’s an instructor in this first film, rather than part of the gang. She takes a self-defence class and ends up pinning Barbara to the ground, her crotch in his face. “Who’s next?” she asks. Everyone puts their hand up. She later seduces cadet George Martin.

Harris shouts ‘Proctor!’ – He’s yet to have Proctor as his sidekick. He cleans his baton a lot; says, “Move it, move it, move!” on four separate occasions; is caught peeking into the female showers; and has a motorbike accident that ends up with his head stuck up a horse’s arse.

Lassard is a bit, um, vague! – He needs to be reminded how many weeks the training lasts, then gets it wrong each time he repeats it; feeds his beloved goldfish on his desk but claims they belong to a friend; and later sends the cadets to the wrong (more dangerous) part of a riot.

Homophobic!/Racist! – “When I went through this academy, every cadet was the right weight, the right height, the right colour – and they all had Johnsons!” decries the police chief. Copeland refers to ‘spades’ and later calls Hooks a ‘jigaboo’. Harris calls a horny dog ‘queer’, while Mahoney jokes “Sleeping’s for fags”, and Blanks calls him ‘Mahomo’. Also: the first appearance of The Blue Oyster, a gay bar full of butch, bearded men in leather jackets, caps and dog collars.

Bare breasts! – “So, tell me – you and your wife do it doggy style or what?” Martin asks an embarrassed Fackler. Martin dresses as a woman to sneak into the female dorm. We get a long shot from outside that dorm, showing us various windows: Callaghan working out in her underwear, Martin having a threesome, two roommates (one of whom is naked with her back to us) getting ready for bed, and the showers (lots of boobs here). Women also get topless at the beach party. Blanks and Copeland hire a hooker to embarrass Barbara – so Mahoney convinces her to hide in a lectern; when Lassard stands at it, she sucks him off (he afterwards thinks it was Mahoney). The prostitute is in another lectern at the end – Lassard’s revenge on Mahoney. Theses films weren’t PGs in the early days.

Famous totty! – Cadet Karen Thompson is played by a post-Porkies, pre-Star Trek, pre-Sex and the City Kim Cattrall.

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