Police Academy: Mission to Moscow (1994, Alan Metter)

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In this leaden, lifeless, lacklustre final Police Academy movie – with only two remaining members of the class of ’84 – the team travel to Russia for, Jesus, some lame reason, I don’t know, I don’t care any more. It’s such a dreadful film, not even managing to be kitsch fun. Christopher Lee plays a Russian general – that’s how awful it is. And it has the most irritating ADR dialogue imaginable. Every “Hmm!” and “Ah!” dubbed over a reaction shot makes your skin crawl with its ineptitude. Here’s the final rundown of running gags and clichés…

Hightower uses his strength! – He’s not in it. Lucky guy

Tackleberry shoots! – When someone trips him up, he does an elaborate gymnastic spin in the air; when demonstrating an arrest on Harris, he takes it too far. He pulls his gun on some people in a sauna, and wants to open a safe by shooting it.

Jonesey’s sound effects! – Squeeky chalk on a blackboard; engine noises as he messes about on a BMX; a blender; a safe opening; Oriental music as he meditates; noisy footsteps; and echoes when someone gives a speech.

Hooks shouts ‘Dirtbag!’ – She’s not in it. Lucky girl.

Callahan’s chest! – While singing undercover in a nightclub, she falls off he piano and ends up sitting on the pianist, crotch in face. When kidnapped by the bad guy (Ron Pearlman), she dresses in lingerie.

Harris shouts ‘Proctor!’ – Proctor’s vanished. Harris says, “Move it! Move it! Move it!” four times. He gets covered in garbage; blows himself up; and goes out on stage (in a ballerina costume) at the Bolshoi.

Lassard is a bit, um, vague! – He pushes a recruit over a barrier; still has fish on his desk; doesn’t notice Harris’s obvious bugging device; and gets in the wrong car at the airport – so spends most of the film with a Russian family.

Obvious replacement characters! – Mahoney’s replacement, Nick, has himself been replaced by the equally boring Kyle Connors (Charlie Schlatter).

Homophobic!/Racist! – The whole thing is pathetically xenophobic. During the nonsensical credit sequence, a stuntman appears to be blacked up to play Jones.

Bare breasts! – There are some topless women in a sauna scene – the series’s first female nudity since film two.

Famous totty – Claire Forlani, who played Colin’s girlfriend in Press Gang, appears as drab Russian translator Katrina.

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Police Academy 6: City Under Siege (1989, Peter Bonerz)

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The penultimate entry in the franchise – hollow but harmless fun – sees the team tackle a crime spree. Here are more of the series’s running gags and clichés…

Hightower uses his strength! – He pulls a leg off Harris’s chair so it’ll collapse when he sits down; hits a table flipping a live grenade out of a window; bashes a computer when it won’t give the team access to a file; easily pulls up a manhole cover; gets covered in falling masonry and metal and survives; and has a titanic brawl and similarly huge bad guy.

Tackleberry shoots! – He sleeps with a handgun in his pillow; shoots at his father-in-law when he mistakes him for an intruder; threatens a man with a grenade; gets suited up in camouflage gear; has a game of who-can-shoot-best? with the villain; and drives a monster truck.

Jonesey’s sound effects! – Squeaky footsteps to embarrass a man in a museum; radio bleeps when calling Hightower; a sound-effects-heavy stand-up routine (including Jimi Hendrix’s guitar); YET MORE SODDING badly dubbed kung-fu-movie dialogue; and robotic motors and voice.

Hooks shouts ‘Dirtbag!’ – When a pompous man rips up a parking ticket and calls her “girl”, she serves him loads more, impounds his car and shouts “Boy!” into his face. To get some rappers’ attention, she throws out some rhymes of her own.

Callahan’s chest! – Various guys stare at her in the gym, then wince as she beats up a dummy. When undercover as a jogger, her radio is hidden in her cleavage and a gaggle of horny men follow her. She’s turned on after beating up a baddie, turns to a SWAT team member and says, “What a big gun,” while he fondles it suggestively.

Harris shouts ‘Proctor!’ – He and Proctor don’t notice the robbery they’re staking out taking place behind them. He breaks the mayor’s beloved model ship. He and Proctor pretend to be window cleaners, high up on a skyscraper and Harris almost falls off the gantry. He gets superglued to a chair. When he and Proctor commandeer a bus to chase some bad guys, Proctor keeps making the stops. He says, “Move it! Move it! Move it!” just twice.

Lassard is a bit, um, vague! – He, seemingly on purpose, out-hustles some pool players. He falls asleep (standing up) during the big denouement scene.

Obvious replacement characters! – Nick’s now just part of the gang, and accident-prone Fackler (who was in the first couple of movies) has been brought back to beef up the numbers.

Homophobic!/Racist! – Hightower uncomfortably says, “As you were, Sergeant!” when Nick hugs him.

Police Academy 5: Assignment: Miami Beach (1988, Alan Myerson)

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In this one – the funniest and most likable of the sequels, which actually has a plot that plays out over 90 minutes – the gang travel to Florida for a police conference. Here are more of the series’s running gags and clichés…

Mahoney flirts and pulls pranks! – Steve Guttenberg has jumped ship and de facto leader Mahoney is no longer in the series. He’s not even mentioned.

Hightower uses his strength! – He kicks a chair across a stage so an about-to-sit-down Lassard doesn’t fall on his arse; rips open an aeroplane door; throws a Frisbee so hard it knocks Proctor off his feet; lifts a man up one-handed; holds a bad guy off a balcony; and wrestles with a crocodile.

Tackleberry shoots! – He considers shooting Harris when he first sees him; scares a passenger on a plane by demonstrating his night stick; points a gun at a shark (“Leave the swimming area now, mister!”); goes so crazy in a shooting range, Callahan has to talk him down like he’s a naughty boy; plays his a handgun in frustration; bursts through a window on a rope; and slides a motorbike into some bad guys.

Jonesey’s sound effects! – A gun cocking, firing, being blown on and put away as Tackleberry mimes shooting Harris; an automated answerphone message and hold music; an airport sensor to annoy Harris; sounds of shaving and playing the violin to amuse a child; motor noises while playing volleyball; parrot squawks; YET MORE kung-fu movie dialogue; a lift’s beep; a radio DJ; a sci-fi noise; and horse neighs (a reference to the first film).

Hooks shouts ‘Dirtbag!’ – She meekly tries to ask a rude man to put out his cigar – when he won’t, she covers him with foam from an extinguisher. She shouts down a loud-hailer into Harris’s face. She goes ape during a crowd-control exercise; and screams “Out of the way, dirtbag!” at a bad guy.

Callahan’s chest! – A couple of boys perv at her cleavage on the plane (“Eyes left!” she commands). One of the baddies refers to her “nice set of papayas”.

Harris shouts ‘Proctor!’ – Harris’s catchphrase (“Move it! Move it! Move it!”) occurs just twice – though Tackleberry also says it at one point. He has ‘dork’ sunburnt into his chest; has his hat set on fire by Proctor; gets injected with sedatives by mistake; and ends up stuck in a massive bass drum.

Lassard is a bit, um, vague! – He stares at his fishbowl when told he has to retire; accidentally throws a letter-opener into a picture of Harris; accidentally knocks a shelf, which sets off a chain reaction of chaos; drops golf balls out of his bag at the airport; knocks the bad guy (Odo from Deep Space Nine) down an escalator; refers to his “best friends” and absent-mindedly points at Callahan’s chest; and assumes being kidnapped is part of a police-procedure exercise, so makes lots of good suggestions to the kidnappers. Most importantly, as my mate Carena will tell you, he carries around a FISH… IN A BOWL… IN A BAG… ON A PLANE.

Obvious replacement characters! – Mahoney’s wisecracking/prank-pulling place on the team has been taken by Lassard’s nephew Nick.

Homophobic!/Racist! – A janitor called Bob rumbles what he thinks is his boss (actually Harris putting on a voice) getting jiggy with a woman in his office. Then Proctor calls out, “Thanks, Bob!” and he assumes gayness. A bad guy says, “Excuse me, Gunga Din,” to a hotel worker in a colonial uniform.

Bare breasts! – A cadet falls over in front of Lassard while collecting her graduation scroll and her face ends up in his crotch. The arse cheeks of Proctor’s wetsuit get worn away after he goes waterskiing without skis. We’re in Miami so there are lots of bikinis; we’re in a PG, so no one takes theirs off.

Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol (1987, Jim Drake)

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In this shambolically awful film – which appears to have been edited by a 10-year-old with ADHD – members of the public are given police training. For some reason. Here are more of the series’s running gags and clichés…

Mahoney flirts and pulls pranks! – He drives along with Jones, both enjoying jiggling along to the movie’s theme tune. He tricks Harris and Proctor into visiting the Blue Oyster bar. When Proctor uses a Portaloo, Mahoney arranges for it to be lifted into the air by a crane and – inexplicably – dropped into the middle of sports stadium. He helps Jones con three slapdash recruits into thinking their lives are in danger, and later puts superglue on the mouthpiece of Harris’s loud-hailer.

Hightower uses his strength! – He pushes against a locker, which domino-like knocks a whole series of them over; slam-dunks a basketball so hard it breaks the hoop; and pretends to be a big, scary Voodoo priest as part of a prank.

Tackleberry shoots! – He considers ‘not carrying grenades’ as his biggest frustration about his job. He finds a comrade-in-arms in gun-loving pensioner Lois Feldman; wears a Dirty Harry T-shirt in one scene; and revels in the gun-range training session.

Jonesey’s sound effects! – Hip-hop shakes; gulps and a belch as Mahoney mimes drinking; a crowd going wild; the revs of an engine when Harris calls him ‘Motormouth Jones’; a huge fart to embarrass Harris; music for an aerobics class; two more run-outs of his kung-fu-movie dialogue; a basketball commentator; feedback when Proctor uses a loud-hailer; a creaking door, a Dracula voice and a wolf’s howl; gunfire to scare recruits; sound of someone seasoning meat; and triumphant trumpets.

Hooks shouts ‘Dirtbag!’ – She struggles to control a crowd; and is flustered when a ghettoblaster is missing its tape. Her only shouty moment is telling Callaghan that “There’s been a jailbreak!”

Callahan’s chest! – Her biggest job frustration is “separate locker rooms”. Tackleberry tells her to “cover her rear” in an OAP home when men approach in wheelchairs. She jumps into a swimming pool in a T-shirt as part of a training session. When she pops up out of the water, she shouts “Who’s gonna save me?” and everyone enthusiastically jumps in. Her Japanese boyfriend is back from film three: she pins him to the ground, her crotch in his face.

Harris shouts ‘Proctor!’ – He’s back, polishing his baton a lot and having – with no explanation – Proctor as his sidekick. His catchphrase “Move it, move it, move it!” occurs five times. Hightower’s dog takes a liking to his crotch. After he pisses off Zed, Zed switches his deodorant for mace.

Lassard is a bit, um, vague! – He plays golf in his office, hitting balls out of the (closed) window, bouncing off the walls and into Zed’s mouth. When giving a speech, he has Zed next to him carrying his goldfish bowl and prompting him. He goes to a police conference in England: all his peers have goldfish bowls of their own.

Bobcat! – He gives an eccentric talk to a sedate poetry club, and gets teary. He still has an old-couple double act with Sweetchuck. He intimidates people into being interested in the COP programme. He thinks about eating Lassard’s fish. He gets a romance subplot.

Homophobic!/Racist! – “They’re gonna send me to jail and some fat, hairy guy is gonna–” says a skaterboarder found guilty of vandalism before Mahoney shuts him up. There’s another iteration of the Blue Oyster gag: straight characters nervously having to dance with leather-clad bears.

Bare breasts! – “Don’t you ever touch my balls without asking!” shouts Harris to Proctor after the latter fiddles with his Newton’s cradle. There’s a few mild swears but it’s noticeably less rude – though Lassard does obliquely refer to the prostitute from films one and three.

Famous totty! – Sharon Stone plays journalist Claire Mattson. She’s barely in the film, though, and the reason why she’s in most scenes is never explained. The character is just occasionally *there* with no real logic. She is, however, in a couple of deleted scenes available on the DVD, which actually contain some plot missing from the finished film.

Police Academy 3: Back in Training (1986, Jerry Paris)

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In this good-enough third entry, the police academy has to fight for its survival when the Governor announces he might close it. Let’s list some more of the series’s running gags and clichés…

Mahoney flirts and pulls pranks! – He’s coaching a women’s basketball team in his first scene – one of the players bumps into and lands on top of him. He flirts with new police recruit Karen Adams, then tries to convince her they’re roommates. He and Jones trick Mauser into putting some sticky tape over his eyes – when removed, it pulls off his eyebrows.

Hightower uses his strength! – He poses undercover as a woman to catch a mugger (blonde wig, usual ’tache). A new recruit mistakes him for a porter, so he flings the guy’s suitcase over a building. He rips a taxi meter out of a car when the cabbie tries to rip someone off. He tells a dog to sit – everyone nearby immediately sits down. He holds onto a speedboat as it attempts to drive off.

Tackleberry shoots! – He’s turned his backyard into a Vietnam-style jungle. We meet his in-laws from film two, but not his wife. He shoots a TV when he hears dialogue he doesn’t like (“You’re dead meat, copper!”); shoots a crossbow into a rude man’s cigar; and shoots a public phone when a woman’s quarter gets swallowed.

Jonesey’s sound effects! – Mauser speaking nonsense; music and a pair of voices to welcome new recruits; sound-effects of high-speed driving as he and Karen sit in a parked car; two further run-outs for his badly dubbed kung-fu-movie dialogue; a malfunctioning till in a bar; hip-hop music when bored; a scanner as he chases bad guys; and submarine sounds as he goes underwater.

Hooks shouts ‘Dirtbag!’ – Her shouty bit comes early – telling a busload of recruits to “Zip your lips, slap your butts to the seat and listen hard!” She later punches both Blanks and Copeland at the same time.

Callahan’s chest! – Back after a one-film absence. She meets recruit Nogata (see Homophobia!/Racism!), who’s at tit-height and falls in love with her. He later goes to her room – while she’s working out in a leotard – and they get it on.

Harris shouts ‘Proctor!’ – He’s not in this one.

Lassard is a bit, um, vague! – He gets distracted by a fly while listening to a speech (when he sees it on a woman’s face, he slaps her off her chair); slaps his baton on his desk and his fish flies into the air; drives his golf buggy into a lake; and drops his fishbowl out of a window (Mahoney catches it).

Bobcat! – The bad guy from film two is now a student at the academy. He shares a room with meek shopkeeper Sweetchuck, who he terrorised in the earlier movie. As well as every line being delivered in strained raspy voice, he screams at a door to open it (it works).

Obvious replacement characters! – It’s still Mauser rather than Harris. For plotting reasons he now runs a rival academy. Proctor’s still his sidekick.

Homophobic!/Racist! – One of Mauser’s recruits is Tomoko Nogata (“of Tachikawa Nogatas”). He misreads from a translation guide, is referred to as Fu Manchu and “stir-fried shrimp from outta town”, and is soon shipped off to Lassard’s academy, where he sleeps on a, um, bed of nails. A naked Proctor wanders into gay haunt The Blue Oyster.

Bare breasts! – There’s a close-up of Karen’s arse as she walks away from Mahoney. The hooker from the first movie returns – Mahoney convinced her to get Proctor naked and then shut him out of his hotel room. Proctor then ends up wandering the street and walks into the Blue Oyster bar. (The producers had by now presumably realised how much more cash they could make if these films were PGs. We get neither proper swearing nor boobs.)

Famous totty! – None.

Police Academy 2: Their First Assignment (1985, Jerry Paris)

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In this first sequel, the Class of ’84 are sent out to staff a badly performing precinct in a rough area of town. Here I continue my attempt to track the series’s running gags and clichés…

Mahoney flirts and pulls pranks! – He flirts with women on the beach; pulls out Mauser’s floss when it’s stuck in his teeth; gives Tackleberry dating advice; swaps Mauser’s shampoo for epoxy resin; and then later arranges for him to have a body-cavity search.

Hightower uses his strength! – He throws a football so hard it knocks a guy off his feet; singlehandedly brings out a number of bad guys from the Blue Oyster bar; and is annoyed when mild-mannered Sweetchuck matches him on the funfair’s test-of-strength.

Tackleberry shoots! – He orders street-crossing kids around like soldiers; scares the shit out of a child (played by Lorraine Baines’s brother from Back to the Future) at his mother’s request; gets a romance subplot with Sgt Kathleen Kirkland when they bond over handguns; comes in all guns blazing when a lamp shop is being robbed; and, when getting amorous with Kirkland, takes ages to remove all his hidden weapons.

Jonesey’s sound effects! – Ugly eating noises to embarrass two diners; Mauser’s watch beeping; a fault with their car to annoy his grumpy partner; a vicious dog to scare a blinded Mauser; kung-fu-movie dubbed dialogue and fighting sound effects when beating up a pair of bad guys; an automatic popcorn machine; an impression of a bear; sounds of machine guns and the police arriving to intimidate a gang; and an instamatic camera at the wedding party.

Hooks shouts ‘Dirtbag!’ – She’s typically meek and mild, then punches Proctor when he won’t help Mahoney. Her “Don’t move, dirtbag!” comes at the end when pointing a gun at gang leader Zed.

Callahan’s chest! – She’s not in this one.

Harris shouts ‘Proctor!’ – He’s not in this one.

Lassard is a bit, um, vague! – He feeds his fish again, but accidentally puts a huge wodge of food in the bowl; misunderstands his brother’s request for “some healthy young men”; goes to a Chinese restaurant and leaves his fishbowl on a hot plate, then holds Eric’s hand down on it too.

Bobcat! – The first appearance of Bobcat Goldthwait as unpredictable, screeching, hyperactive, eccentric-talking Zed McGlunk. He’s the bad guy in this film. He and his gang ransack a supermarket and terrorise the city; when Mahoney asks Zed for a light, Zed sets his own hand on fire.

Obvious replacement characters! – In the place of Harris, we have Lieutenant Mauser as the antagonistic, arrogant, vain and up-himself policeman who the regulars take against. He has an odious sidekick called Proctor (the dumber of the two).

Homophobic!/Racist! – Proctor mishears ‘new recruits’ as ‘fruits’, so photographs some gay men. When he sees a very dirty Mahoney sitting next to Jones, he jokes that they’re brothers. While being chased by gang members, Sweetchuck runs into the Blue Oyster. (Proctor knows the address of the bar – and gets dubious looks.)

Bare breasts! – There are some topless sunbathers on the beach. Mahoney sticks a long balloon down his trousers when he’s being fitting for a new uniform. “Mahoney, I’m a virgin!” shouts Tackleberry just as the room quietens down. Mauser walks into the precinct lobby while naked, and when he later ends up with hair stuck to his palms, Mahoney makes a wanking gag.

Famous totty! – Colleen Camp (sexy French maid Yvette in Clue, one of the cops in Die Hard With a Vengeance, Reese Witherspoon’s mum in Election) plays Kathleen Kirkland.

Police Academy (1984, Hugh Wilson)

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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.