The first Police Academy takes place in an unnamed city that appears to be in California. Due to a shortage of officers, the mayor has announced that the police academy will now accept anyone who wants to apply, regardless of their physical or mental condition. Naturally, this leads to a collection of misfits applying. Martinet Lt. Harris (G.W. Bailey) is determined to force all of them to drop out of the academy and he has a point because I wouldn’t trust Michael Winslow’s human sound effects guy to investigate any crimes that were committed in my neighborhood. What’s he going to do? Make silly noises while I’m trying to figure out who stole my car?
The leader of the recruits is Carey Mahoney (Steve Guttenberg). Mahoney is being forced to attend the academy because otherwise, he’ll have to go to jail for disturbing the peace. Police Academy is a film that asks you to believe that a character played by Steve Guttenberg has not only frequently been in trouble with the law but would also make a good cop. Guttenberg doesn’t really do a bad job as Mahoney. He’s a likable actor, even if his filmography has more duds than hits. But he’s still miscast in a role that demands someone like Bill Murray, who could be both tough and funny.
The other recruits include Bubba Smith as Hightower and David Graf as the insane gun nut, Tackleberry. Kim Cattrall is the rich girl who wants to be a cop and who falls in love with Mahoney. George Gaynes is Commandant Lassard, who is out-of-it but not as out-of-it as he would be in the sequels.
You have to wonder how many parents, in the late 80s and early 90s, allowed their children to rent the R-rated Police Academy from the local video store without realizing the the first Police Academy is considerably more raunchy than the later sequels. How did mom and dad react when they walked into the room and discovered their children watching Georgina Spelvin giving George Gaynes a blow job from underneath a podium? Or how about the scene where recruit George Martin (Andrew Rubin) is spied having a threesome in the girl’s dorm? The first Police Academy film is definitely made from the same mold as Animal House, Caddyshack, and Stripes. It’s just not as funny as any of those films.
However, it is funnier than every Police Academy film that followed it. There’s enough solid laughs to make the first Police Academy fun in a stupid way. For instance, just about every scene involving accident-prone Cadet Fackler (Bruce Mahler) was funny. Bubba Smith gets a lot of laughs just by being Bubba Smith in a stupid movie. It’s also hard not to love it when Cadet Hooks (Marion Ramsey) yelled, “Don’t move, Dirtbag!” Hell, I even laughed at the sound effects guy once or twice.
All of the Police Academy films are now on Netflix. Tomorrow, we’ll take a look at Police Academy 2: Their First Assignment.