Police Academy - 1984
Police Academy is directed and co-written by Hugh Wilson, the same mind that would later give us Down Periscope and Blast from the Past. Coming off the heels of 80’s Airplane, the writer decided to play off the tropes and stereotypes of all the police shows and movies. While this movie has a great ensemble cast, the stand outs are Steve Guttenberg, Kim Cattrall, George Gaynes and Michael Winslow. The story centers around the police department having to take in any and every recruit to fix a police officer shortage.
Fair warning: this review is slightly tainted by nostalgia. Growing up, I wanted to be Michael Winslow. Well, not him, but have his sound effects abilities at my disposal. This review will be shorter than my usual review, since all I really want to write is… “This movie is funny.” But with that out of the way, let’s talk about this comedic time capsule.
Hugh Wilson, along with his writing partners, Pat Proft and Neal Israel, essentially based most, if not all, of their characters on stereotypes. While many of them are just used for their stereotypes, like the old white commander who hates women and blacks, others are used to play off their stereotypes. The best stereotype play comes from Hightower, played by former NFL player Bubba Smith. On the surface, everyone sees him as a large intimidating large black man. But as we the audience start to know him, we get to see his sensitive side as a former florist trying to put his strength to good use as a police officer. He suffers scrutiny from the training Sargent and his lackeys, losing his job for defending a fellow recruit, but ultimately becomes the hero in the end.
While Police Academy tries to make fun of police movie tropes, they ultimately fall in the same tropes themselves. I would’ve loved if they would’ve gone completely against the grain while still making fun of them.
While other actors get their moment in the sun, this is a Steve Guttenberg vehicle as officer Mahoney. If quips were made of sugar, I would’ve develop a level of diabetes just from watching this movie. While he made his money with the quips, his reactions to all the people and the events around him is the best part of his performance. He is one of the few characters that has a full arc in the story. He starts the film as a self-involved a-hole, but towards the end he buys into the police brotherhood and selflessly helps save the day. This performance was so good at the time that he would later play the same role for the following sequels (he would drop off after the 4th).
Before I close out this quickie review, I should touch on some of the names I highlighted in my opening paragraph. George Gaynes as Commandant Lassard, a clueless leader that stumbles throughout the entire movie, is hilarious. His interactions with Mahoney are one of the best scenes in the entire movie. Finally, the man-the myth-the legend, Sir (he isn’t really a knight) Michael Winslow as Larvell Jones. There was nothing “cooler” in the world for ten-year-old me than a man that could produce machine-gun sounds from his mouth. Below are all his best scenes, enjoy.
Police Academy is a simple comedy that has slightly more hits than misses and that delivers just enough laughs to merit multiple viewings. While the five sequels that came after the original were each worse than the previous one, the original has stood the test of time. Sir Michael Winslow is why I love movies.
Police Academy is currently streaming in Netflix. *Machine-gun sound effects*
If you like this review let me know in the comment section down below. Also, follow me over at Twitter (@yILovemovies) or over on Facebook, so you can be up to date with all my reviews.