Police Academy (1984)

<strong class="MovieTitle">Police Academy</strong> (1984)

(Second viewing, On DVD, May 2018) I will forever embarrass myself by recalling this, but here goes: As a young pre-teenager, I was a moron when it comes to movies. I distinctly recall having a conversation with friends about why (wait for it…) it wasn’t movies like Police Academy that won Oscars. Why not?! From the perspective of a twelve-year-old boy, Police Academy was far better than Terms of Endearment: it has laughs, a simple plot, great characters, plenty of nudity and none of that troublesome meditation on the meaning of life and the relationships we have with others. As I’ve grown older but not necessarily wiser, I approached Police Academy with some reluctance—I knew the movie wouldn’t hold up to teenage memories, but would it at least hold up as a comedy? Fortunately … it mostly does. Not a great comedy, not a classic one (although that theme song is instantly recognizable) but one more or less on the level of similar late seventies/early-eighties offerings. Think Caddyshack, Meatballs, Stripes, Revenge of the Nerds, and Animal House, as comedies in which misfits take on institutions of power and eventually win over the system. Those films are often more politically militant, in a vulgar way, than one would expect: To cheer for the heroes often means cheering for women, gays, blacks, disabled and just plain eccentric people for a more inclusive society. As a result, Police Academy has aged better than I would have thought—what’s more, this first entry in the series benefits from a relatively solid structure and characters that haven’t yet fallen into a self-aware parody. Toronto doubles for an unnamed American city, and Pat Proft (of latter spoof-comedy fame) appears in the writing credits. It is crude (albeit in that relatively sweet early-eighties way that doesn’t seem so crass compared to more recent offering), dumb, and aimed at teenagers. Some of the scenes are markedly worse than others—one of them involves a horse. But Police Academy isn’t quite as bad as I feared, and it doesn’t make me feel all that bad that as an early teen, I liked something clearly aimed at early teens. 

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