Police Academy 5 starts as so many Police Academy films have started. Commandant Lassard (George Gaynes) is getting progressively more loopy and Captain Harris (G.W. Bailey) is plotting to take over the Academy. This time, Harris thinks that he has come up with the perfect plan when he discovers that Lassard has reached the mandatory retirement age.
With retirement looming, Lassard attends one final law enforcement convention in Miami. At the convention, Lassard is to be honored as “Police Officer of the Decade” because it was apparently a very slow decade. Lassard decides to bring along his favorite academy graduates so that they can celebrate with him and meet his nephew, Sgt. Nick Lassard (Matt McCoy, who you may recognize as Seinfeld’s Lloyd Braun or maybe as the spokesman for Hartford Insurance). The commandant invites Sound Effects Guy (Michael Winslow), Tackleberry (David Graf), Hightower (Bubba Smith), Hooks (Marion Ramsey), Callhan (Leslie Easterbrook), and House (Tab Thacker). Notice who isn’t there? This was the first Police Academy film without Steve Guttenberg’s Carey Mahoney and Commandant Lassard celebrating his career without inviting his most loyal graduate doesn’t seem right.
Once what is left of the old gang arrives in Miami, they get caught up in the usual Police Academy shenanigans. Rene Auberjonois plays a jewel thief who accidentally switches bags with the Commandant and who has 24 hours to retrieve the stolen diamonds. It’s Florida so there are women in bikinis and an Everglades boat chase. Harris gets humiliated in every way possible. The jokes are even more juvenile than usual. Nick Lassard uses sunscreen to permanently label Harris as being a “dork” so everyone on the beach calls Harris a “dork.” That’s as sophisticated as things get.
Unfortunately, there’s a Steve Guttenberg-shaped hole at the center of Police Academy 5 and not even as formidable a thespian as Matt McCoy can fill it. Even though Guttenberg always seemed like he was miscast as both a cop and a former juvenile delinquent, Police Academy 5 shows how important he really was to the franchise. Mahoney was the closest thing that the Police Academy films had to a fully developed character and, without him around, it’s even more obvious how thinly drawn all of the other characters were. (Guttenberg was filming Three Man And A Baby while Police Academy 5 was in production though, in an A.V. Club interview a few years ago, Guttenberg said the real reason he wasn’t invited to Miami Beach was because the producers couldn’t afford to pay his salary. “You’ve got to get paid!” Guttenberg explained.)
I will, however, give Police Academy 5 some credit. Rene Auberjonois does what he can with his bumbling jewel thief and the scene where Tackleberry pulls a gun on a shark made me laugh. Otherwise, Police Academy 5 is no Police Academy 3.
Tomorrow, it’s time for … you guessed it! …. Police Academy 6!