I have a long history with the “Police Academy” movie series, as well as a lot of nostalgia attached to it. As a child who was attached to the television, I spent many a day watching the adventures of Mahoney and the Police Academy on WPIX Channel 11 here in New York. I often watched two to six on television and almost always had a blast with it. I was able to see “City Under Siege” in theaters, and stuck with it right through the end where it became a TV show, cartoon, comic series, and then an inevitable pop culture running joke. It’s a very of its time movie series that would be impossible to duplicate today, and that’s why I love it so much. Shout Factory releases a new edition of this series that is stuffed with bells and whistles, but leaves much to be desired.
I plan to review the full movie series in the future.
Police Academy (1984) is the comedy film that started it all, a classic, hilarious underdog comedy of slobs vs. snobs in the vein of “Animal House” that made big stars of Steve Gutenberg and Michael Winslow (B+); following the success of the former, there’s Police Academy 2: Their First Assignment (1985), a good sequel which opts for a less raunchier, albeit wackier sequel introducing new villains as led by Bobcat Goldthwait, who became an eighties star (B+). Police Academy 3: Back in Training (1986) is not quite as great as the previous two, and primarily sticks with what works, including leaning heavily in to our core group so much fun (B-).
Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol (1987) is sadly the last time we’ll have seen with Gutenberg as Mahoney, as he left after filming. This is a perfectly fine sequel with Gutenberg’s last go around including new characters, and sticking to the classic original recruits who are no longer noobies (C-). Police Academy 5: Assignment Miami Beach (1988) is one of the weaker of the bunch introducing Matt McCoy as Nick Lassard in place of Mahoney. This one involves jewel thieves, and the cops out of their element and it’s all fairly bland (D). Police Academy 6: City Under Siege (1989) is one of my favorites and one I watched most often. It’s a return to the wacky, cartoon that the movie series had evolved to, involving the group searching a mysterious masked bomber threatening the city. It’s fun, even if a lot of the raunch is gone (B-).
Last and very much least there’s Police Academy: Mission to Moscow (1994), the notorious final outing and death knell of the series featuring all new characters and even less of our original recruits, many of whom declined to return. It’s awful, it’s unfunny, and it’s mainly recommended for “Police Academy” completists (F).
The only thing keeping this set from feeling like a definitive edition is that Shout don’t really feature the more obscure elements of the “Police Academy” fandom. There’s no inclusion of the Saturday morning cartoon, nor is there the inclusion of the short lived syndicated TV show. Granted, it was an awful series, but still would fit well in to a set for the fans to celebrate. Nevertheless we do get some new segments and interviews, so that’s a plus.
Special Features includes an audio commentary for Police Academy with Stars Steve Guttenberg, Michael Winslow, Leslie Easterbrook, G.W. Bailey, Director Hugh Wilson, and Producer Paul Maslansky. They all offer an entertaining archival commentary track. The anecdotes and jokes are fun and you learn about how all of the performers came to be involved. There’s a new commentary for Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol with Film Historian Russell Dyball who provides a new commentary track discussing this film and its place in cinema, the title song, the real-world inspiration for the titular program, and more.
What They Don’t Know…Can’t Hurt Them – Inside the Police Academy Films is a new 20-minutes featurette with producer Paul Maslansky who explores the initial idea for the story, the development of the script, the casting process, the shooting locations and more. Desperate Measures Were Taken – Writing Police Academy is a new 12-minutes interview with writers Neal Israel and Pat Proft both of whom they discuss what inspired them when attending real-life police academies, the requirements for police officers at the time, and more. First Class Schmuck – Recruiting Lt. Proctor is a new 12-minutes interview with actor Lance Kinsey who discusses his history with this fan-favorite character, the kind words he received from Jerry Seinfeld, and more.
Move It! Move It! – Recruiting Captain Harris is a new 16-minutes interview with actor G.W. Bailey who discusses nearly losing his role to Paul Dooley, coming into his signature stick, his discomfort with hurling certain insults at Bubba Smith, and more. Send In The Recruits – Scoring the Police Academy Films is a new 16-minutes interview with composer Robert Folk who discusses getting involved with Police Academy, getting the job thanks to the busy schedule of Elmer Bernstein, creating the main theme for the series, and more. Armed and Dangerous – Making Police Academy 2 is a new 14-minute segment with Assistant Director Roger Joseph Pugliese who discusses how he got a promotion on set, working with Paul Maslansky and Jerry Paris, and what he learned from the experience.
Fun and Guns Under the Sun – Making Police Academy 5 is a new 17-minute featurette with director Alan Myerson who discusses what he wanted to bring to the series with this installment, Undercover Blues – Making Police Academy 6 is a nearly 13-minute new interview with director Peter Bonerz, and there are a line up of vintage trailers for the entire Police Academy movie series. There are also vintage featurettes to all of the Police Academy movies, many of which clock in almost ten minutes, and there are forty five minutes of additional and alternate scenes. There are also more theatrical trailers, some TV and Video Spots for the movies, and finally a large image gallery for collectors.