Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol
Reviewed by Arno Mikli
Rating: 6.5 Beans
I stand here today to move that the Police Academy be closed down immediately due to poor quality humour, general tastelessness and poor entertainment value. I present to you as evidence this 90 minute piece of celluloid, labelled Police Academy IV.
Your honour may be aware that the Police Academy was originally the brainchild of director Hugh Wilson and screenwriters Neal Israel, Pat Proft and Hugh Wilson. It dealt with the concept of how a police academy opened its doors to all comers, regardless of age, sex or most other barriers. It was an early form of political correctness. So the unlikely comers came, including reluctant Mahoney (Steve Guttenberg), spectacular soundman Larvell Jones (Michael Winslow), giant-size poet and florist Moses (Bubba Smith) and numerous other persons. They clashed with the conservative and aggressive training instructor Lt Harris (GW Bailey) and ended up making a film that was tasteless in places (that infamous lecture theatre scene comes to mind), but credible, funny and very successful overall.
By the time this third sequel came by, your honour, the situation had changed and a new director and scriptwriter, to wit, Jerry Drake and Gene Quintano, had taken over. Despite the presence of most of the original casts, and a similar plot to that of Police Academy ( yet more unlikely candidates joining up with the Police Academy under a new citizen police scheme), they succeeded in coming up with a product that fails utterly to entertain. It is plain, your honour, that at least part of the blame for this film's failure must go to these two persons.
If I may just quote GW Bailey , who plays the now promoted Captain Harris, " Lassard's program is a mistake and anyone who thinks otherwise is wrong. Pure and simple." The same can be said of the film itself. What other conclusion can be made about a film that provides scenes such as the following exhibits? (They must surely qualify as classical moments of bad moviemaking!)
Exhibit A: A Lt Proctor (definitely the most ridiculous character in this film, and a leftover from the first two sequels) , who is Capt Harris'es deputy, spots Mahoney and a few of his Citizen On Patrol recruits (or COPs) , playing basketball. He accuses them of 'goofing off' and informs Mahoney that he will report the matter to Captain Harris. He then, incredibly, goes and steps inside a nearby portable toilet to read an Archie comic. Mahoney responds to the situation by directing a crane that just happens to be nearby to pick up the toilet and move the entire object , with Proctor still inside, to a nearby crowded sports oval. Once there, two other Police Academy originals who presumably just happened to be there run onto the field and loosen the walls of the toilet. The walls come down , to reveal Proctor still sitting there, pants still at his ankles. The "Star Spangled Banner" then starts playing, and Proctor obediently stands up to show respect for the anthem.
Exhibit B: Lt Proctor goes to the downstairs jail cells at a police precinct, as a result of orders by Harris. Upstairs, Harris is showing about the police chiefs of numerous foreign nations, who had been invited there to view the success of the COP scheme. While Proctor is downstairs, he is drawn into an absurd Simple Simon game with the inmates there. By following these instructions, Proctor is eventually seized by the convicts , who seize Proctor's keys and use them to imprison the police chiefs and make good their escape. This scene was necessary, your worship, to bring about the rest of the film's action sequences - an absurd kung fu fight, and a vintage aircraft combat scene that is neither very exciting nor very funny, in spite of numerous shots of Police Academy staff skydiving to make arrests.
Exhibit C: The bizarre love dance scene between an Officer Zed (Bobcat Goldthwait) who had been a criminal in a previous sequel and a poet admirer (Corinne Bohrer). The fitting line "I think I'm gonna puke..." appears in it.
There are plenty more of such scenes , your honour, that fail utterly in terms of humour value, general credibility or entertainment value. I will not weary you with these nor with the details of the film's cumbersome plot.
It remains an ironic situation, your honour, that a single scene featuring youths on skateboards is more entertaining than many of the comedy scenes. But may I point out, your honour, that such scenes can be seen for free by walking down any city street. The consumer need not part with good money for any more.
There is some value from the cast list. We see Sharon Stone as Clare Mattson, who is some kind of journalist. David Spade (from "Just Shoot Me") also appears here as a skateboard punk whom Mahoney recruits as a COP in much the same way as Jones and Mahoney are recruited in the first film. But these castings do not improve the film's quality.
The characters in the film are poorly portrayed. Many of the cast originals receive little attention, whilst some of the COPs need not have appeared at all - for instance , the lawyer who defends Spade's character. He is virtually invisible throughout the entire movie. It is unclear whether this was due to decisions made on the cutting room or not, but the end result is certainly unsatisfactory. Other examples of characters who need never have been included due to low exposure include Tackleberry's father and the softly-spoken Officer Hooks (Marion Ramsey) from the previous films.
In hindsight, your honour, it could be argued that this was merciful, as the characters who did get some attention were not very consistently or acceptably portrayed. Mahoney, for instance, was portrayed in "Police Academy" as rebellious, but the audience knew why, and he became more bearable as a result. Here, he is being portrayed as little more than an impertinent troublemaker, as demonstrated in Exhibit A. In "Police Academy" , he received punishment for his misdeeds. Here, he gets away scotfree after committing a series of less entertaining offences.
It is plain from the above exhibits that the Police Academy must be closed before it makes any more sequels. Police Academy V , VI and VII (officially known as Mission to Moscow) were all very bad indeed and had the Police Academy been closed with Police Academy IV, we would have been spared three more bad Police Academy movies on the video shelves. That they continued to appear was perhaps due to the fact that, in the words of critic Simon Rose: "as the first four [Police Academy films] made $450 million around the world, perhaps its our fault rather than theirs?"
Your honour, I will conclude this submission that the Academy must be closed with an intriguing line of reasoning.
The last thing that we see before the film ends is the sight of Mahoney heading off into the sunset in a hot air balloon and drinking champagne with Sharon Stone's character. We never see Mahoney again, ostensibly because Steve Guttenburg declined to appear in any more sequels. After that toilet scene and general character portrayal as described above, who can blame him?
However, an intriguing alternate explanation exists. Ms Stone's character claims to be a journalist, but we see little evidence of this. We do see Ms Stone appear later in "Basic Instinct" as Catherine Tramell, a novelist (ie a writer). She has a serious problem with men who develop an interest in her, and that notorious interview room scene proves that she has a contempt for policemen.
It is reasonable, therefore, to speculate that Catherine Trammel and Clare Mattson were the same person and that she may well have been carrying an icepick on her person in that balloon...
"Bad Movie Night" is a presentation of
Hit-n-Run Productions, © 1997-2006,
a subsidiary of Syphon Interactive, LLC.
Site created and managed by Ken and Scoot