Police Academy 2: Their First Assignment

Police Academy 2Synopsis: To protect, serve… and entertain. The comic crimebusters are back!

An anti-social nut job and his leathered band of pranksters are on the prowl, spray-painting the town red and emptying the pockets of anyone sharing the sidewalk. In the wake of this crime wave, you might wonder where the educational system went wrong. But then again, consider the Police Academy.

For when the newly graduated misfits in blue tangle with these pinheaded punkers in Police Academy 2: Their First Assignment, the result is an open-and-shut case of nonstop hilarity. Steve Guttenberg, George Gaynes and other Police Academy originals return to the roll call, facing the formidable Bobcat Goldthwait in the tailor-made role of the wacked-out gangleader. It’s a riot – a laugh-riot – in the streets!

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Police Academy 2: Their First Assignment 3.5

eyelights: Howard Hesseman. Zed.
eyesores: the humour. the writing. the performances.

“You have the right to remain silent. You have the right to a court-appointed attorney. You have the right to sing the blues. You have the right to cable TV (that’s very important). You have the right to sublet. You have the right to paint the walls (no loud colours).”

When I first heard of the ‘Police Academy’ series, I think the second one was already out. I seem to remember my friends talking about it, telling me how funny it was. In fact, it’s likely that’s what prompted me to see the first one.

Holy Geez… it’s a good thing I didn’t start with the sequel.

As luck would have it, I skipped it altogether; I saw the original and then ‘Police Academy 3’ at the big screen two or three times. It would be years before I even saw ‘Police Academy 2’. Until then, I thought that the series wasn’t half bad.

And then I eventually saw it.

Bloody hell.

‘Police Academy 2’ actually takes us away from the police academy it’s named after and instead is set at New York’s 16th precinct, the worst in the whole city. Captain Lessard, Commandant Lessard’s brother, is given 30 days to turn it around.

Given that he’s understaffed, the police chief allows him to pick a half-dozen new recruits. So he calls his brother at the academy for advice. Guess who he gets? Mahoney, Jones, Tackleberry, Hightower, Hooks and Fackler. Naturellement.

With their help, he hopes to clean up the streets, which are being terrorized by Zed and his gang. Except that Lt. Mauser has his eye on Lassard’s job, which he will get if the Captain fails. So he and his moronic underling conspire to trip him up.

After we’re reintroduced to each of the original cast members (who are all getting into mischief in far too over-the-top and ridiculous, situations), they are assigned a precinct veteran to patrol with. Except Hightower, who gets a beat. And Hooks, on radio.

And so they patrol the streets with their counterparts, who are all designed to conflict with them in some fashion. It’s an aimless foray into the inner city with few attempts to find Zed and his gang; instead it’s just one pointless gag after another.

What’s frustrating is that, despite the gang’s very public appearances, the cops don’t know who they are and who their leader is – even after they fight them face to face at the Police Fair! And yet Zed harassed the mayor, for goodness’ sake!

The writing is so weak on this one. Not only was a new director hired, but a whole different writing team worked on this one. And it all sucks. The jokes aren’t funny, the characters aren’t funny, what little humour there is delivered poorly.

‘Police Academy 2’ just plain sucks.

For instance, a recurring gag is a lamp store owner with an extreme security system who keeps getting threatened by punks. It’s only mildly funny, but then they milk it like crazy (apparently the director liked the dynamic between him and Zed).

Ultimately, Mahoney and company completely destroy his shop for no good reason (and, no, it’s not at all funny… if only!). And yet, despite the cost, potential lawsuit and failure, Lassard writes it off as a job well done after a lame speech by Mahoney.

Seriously.

WTF?!!!

Even the gags that worked in the previous film are reused but wasted: It so happens that the Blue Cactus is on their precinct. Lucky. I guess you can’t keep a good gag down. But you can certainly beat it to a pulp; what worked so beautifully once doesn’t here.

Ultimately, in sheer desperation, Lassard sends Mahoney undercover as a hood to infiltrate Zed’s gang. It’s as weak a finale as the riot sequence in the first film. And maybe more so: Guttenberg really sucks here and is hamstrung with terrible lines.

It’s so terrible, so painful to watch, that the ending is all I remember from this crappy film when I think back. The material is so unbelievably unfunny, poorly written and performed that it’s on par with the worst of ‘Curse of the Pink Panther‘.

No joke.

A few things do work, however:

  • Jones’ has a martial arts combat sequence in which he pretends to be in a poorly-dubbed Bruce Lee movie. It’s one of the only amusing moments – or at least, the only half-decent one.
  • Zed is played by Bobcat Goldthwait, who plays him crazy, weird, but sensitive. And it’s just the kind of wacky juxtaposition that makes him interesting. He’s not stellar, but he is a standout; he steals the show (not that it’s hard to do here, as everyone’s phoned in their performances).
  • Tackleberry is sidelined in a romantic story arc with his HOT, gun-totting, equally-tough partner, Kathleen Kirkland (Colleen Camp, who can’t act, but is pure eye candy). At least, this produced two good gags: 1) their undressing scene after their first date, in which one gun after the other is revealed, and 2) meeting her family, in which Tackleberry finds the dad and son constantly pummeling each other. For fun.

But, beyond this, ‘Police Academy 2’ is a total washout: it’s fueled by poor slapstick and moronic gags, all poorly-delivered. Who’d have thought that something as basic and low-brow as ‘Police Academy’ could actually be ruined by ineptitude?

Well, I guess it shows that some thought and skill went into the first one.

Not so here.

Date of viewing: February 14-15, 2016

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