Stop me if this sounds familiar.
The governor of Californa is planning on visiting the small town of Corvette so that he can announce the opening of a new highway. The mayor is concerned that the town’s small police force might not be big enough to handle all of the pomp and drama that goes along with an executive visit. He orders Captain Magruder (Mike McDonald) to lower the department’s standards and to recruit civilians off the street so that they can quickly be trained to become police officers. Magruder starts by going to down to the jail and recruiting for low-level offenders.
If you think this sounds a lot like Police Academy, you’re absolutely right. Just as Police Academy was pretty much a rip-off of Stripes, Recruits is a rip-off of Police Academy. Once again, the recruits are a lovable gang of misfits who screw up big time before getting a chance to prove that they have what it takes to be real cops. There’s the usual beach patrol scenes, a lot of nudity, and one manic nerdy recruit whose antics would inspire even Jerry Lewis to say, “Tone it down a little.” However, there is a major difference between Recruits and Police Academy. In Recruits, there is no lovable Commandant Lassard. Instead, Captain Magruder wants the recruits to fail because he’s hoping that the governor will fire the mayor and appoint Magruder in his place. I’m not sure that’s how municipal politics actually works but maybe it’s just a California thing.
As far as brainless rip-offs of movies that weren’t particularly good to begin with go, Recruits isn’t that bad. The humor is even more juvenile here than it was in Police Academy and trying to apply too much logic to the plot will make your brain hurt but it’s a breezy 90 minutes and it’s got a game cast, a few of whom went on to better things. (Lolita Davidovich, for instance, is the recruit who ends up naked in a limo that turns out to belong to the governor.) Jon Mikl Thor made his feature film debut as a recruit named Thunderhead and he gets to battle a bunch of outlaw bikers while one his songs plays in the background. It’s a pretty cool scene. If you’re nostalgic for these types of unapologetically dumb comedies, Recruits will satisfy that nostalgia.