Throwback Thursday: Police Academy

Police Academy is a 1980s screwball comedy that tells the story of a group of outcasts that all (expect one) want to become police officers. After a law is passed that gets rid of height, weight, and intellectual qualifications these ordinary people flock to training. As this rag tag group of misfits try to pass the academy they face the fierce opposition of their instructors.

I would like to start this whole thing off by affirming that this is movie is a pretty dumb dude flick and some of the jokes don’t age well (especially the misogynistic ones). That’s my negative side of the review, but I’m not going to lie, I actually think overall this movie is pretty funny. It’s a simple comedy, mostly focusing on reoccurring bits that define all of the characters. The gung-ho gun nut (David Graf) is always over-the-top and always doing something with a weapon. There’s the guy that is always making sound effects (Michael Winslow). The main character is always pulling some kind of prank (Steve Guttenberg). The huge black guy (Bubba Smith of NFL fame) is constantly excelling in everything by just being massive. There’s the girl that only speaks in a whisper (Marion Ramsey). One guy is fat and timid (Donovan Scott). One guy gets all the ladies (Andrew Rubin). Essentially, everyone’s central character is made up by the bit they’re supposed to be playing.

Now obviously that sounds pretty basic, and that’s because it is, but it still quite funny. Bubba Smith’s character Higgins is this loveable giant that you can’t help but root for, and he’s actually really funny playing an ex-florist who joined the police force because he was bored. The main character is this likeable jerk who has a few pretty funny pranks in him. And most of the bits hold up. Michael Winslow always made me laugh with the sound effects. It’s not profound, but I really thought he was the funniest and most underrated bit they had going. The lead commander is a little shrill and annoying, being that his only character trait is to be a total asshole the whole time. We literally have no reason to ever root for him, and so the final confrontation at the end kind of loses any impact. Not like there was going to ever be any serious drama in this thing anyway, but still you usually want the guy rescued.

Now this film is definitely dated, and has spawned about a million sequels that steadily rated lower and lower on Rotten Tomatoes, ultimately hitting rock bottom with Police Academy 4-7 earning a whopping 0% approval rating. I think I found this movie funny because it was a pretty original idea and had some decent bits that usually landed. I loved Smith. I loved Winslow. Some jokes were a little much, especially with anything involving women, but it wasn’t offensive enough for me to switch it off. It’s a silly movie, but if you aren’t expecting an Oscar-nominated classic, it really is quite fun.

Amy’s Recommendation: 6/10

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