Plot: In an effort to draw in new recruits and promote a more diverse police presence, the police department has dropped all requirements for new applicants, so anyone can now train to be in law enforcement. The new approach is praised by some as quite a progressive move, but some within the higher ranks of the police dislike seeing years of regulations torn down. Mahoney (Steve Guttenberg) is one of the new recruits, a small time criminal who is enrolled against his will, as if he chooses to quit the program, he goes to jail instead. He intends to be thrown out, which would allow him to avoid both jail and the program, but he soon discovers that won’t be as simple as he thinks. He clashes with the officer in charge, Lt. Harris (G.W. Bailey) and becomes a leader of sorts for the program’s more colorful, less effective cadets. But will Mahoney be able to evade service as he plans and what will become of the police force with such an odd, offbeat assortment of new recruits?
Entertainment Value: Police Academy is one of the movies that helped define what 80s comedies were all about, with a ridiculous narrative, a wacky sense of humor, and a likable, charismatic cast of characters. The movie was a huge hit on home video and launched six sequels, but this is where it all began and for most people, this first Police Academy is the series’ best. Of course, this is pure silliness from start to finish and in the usual 80s style, has some lines, interactions, and characters that are likely to offend some viewers. The humor can be crude and plays off stereotypes of all kinds, not just the obvious ones either, but touches like the massive Hightower being a bad ass florist, of all professions. The real drive of the movie is the clash between Mahoney and Harris, but there’s enough side threads to ensure things never slow down or feel drawn out, then we have a big, feel good finale to cap off the flick. I can see how some viewers would be offended or dislike the silliness involved, but I love Police Academy and I think it is a super fun picture.
Steve Guttenberg has the lead and he is an ideal fit for the role, as he has the effortless charm and presence needed and then some. He’s able to pull off the roguish, likable type quite well and is also able to play off his costars well, which is crucial given how the movie has such a deep ensemble. I don’t think anyone would claim he was robbed at the Oscars, but for this kind of wacky comedy, Guttenberg is about as good a lead as you could want. While Guttenberg has the lead, the movie lets most of the ensemble cast have a story thread and a chance to shine. This is great news, as even minor characters have a lot of charm here and while their stories are brief or rushed, it is nice to see most of them given a moment in the sun. G.W. Bailey is a classic 80s villain, Michael Winslow would have countless people trying to imitate his skill as a human sound effects machine, and David Graf’s trigger happy Tackleberry is always hilarious. The cast also includes Marion Ramsey, George Gaynes, Leslie Easterbrook, Kim Cattrall, Bubba Smith, and numerous others.
This movie seems to have a reputation for sleaze, but the nakedness is limited to a topless scene and a scene that shows several bare asses from a distance, so most of the sleaze comes from sexual innuendos or off screen hijinks. And there are also a lot of short shorts, tight shirts, bikinis and such, but the actual nudity on showcase is on the lower end of the scale. No blood. There’s some mild violence at times and guns are fired, but no bloodshed is seen. The finale includes some solid action however, especially by 80s comedy standards. The dialogue is fantastic, with almost constant zingers or memorable lines. There is plenty of potentially offensive stuff here however, so more sensitive viewers might be taken aback. I think the dialogue here is off the wall, colorful, and almost always hilarious. As for craziness, surprise blowjobs, outlandish situations, colorful characters, and 80s style mayhem abound, but the silly tone does dampen the insanity, of course.
Overall Insanity: 4/10