The raw, inept, blunderhead civilians who graduated to become raw, inept, blunderhead cops “carry on with a lot of good, low humor” (Vincent Canby, The New York Times) in their third hilarious outing.
A budget crisis has decreed that only one of the state’s two cop schools can survive, so the race is on to see which academy can avoid the ax by turning out the superior . So Mahoney (Steve Guttenberg), Hightower (Bubba Smith), Tackleberry (David Graf), Jones (Michael Winslow), Hooks (Marion Ramsey) and Callahan (Leslie Easterbrook) – led by eternally befuddled Cmdt. Lassard (George Gaynes) – mobilize hilariously in their alma mater’s defense. You have the right to remain silent – but you’ll end up howling.
eyelights: its basic premise. its spin on old gags.
eyesores: its lack of inventiveness.
“Mahoney must think he’s as dumb as we are.”
I was late to the party: by the time that I’d heard about the ‘Police Academy’ series, the first and second films had already been released. I made up for lost time and watched the original seven time in one weekend, and then went to see ‘Police Academy 3’ in cinemas, surprised to find out that there had even been a second one!
The next day, on the way to school, I was excitedly telling my friends about all the hilarious new characters and their many zany antics. My friends, who had seen the second one, were a bit jaded: to them, these characters were nothing new. In fact, there’s not much that’s new in this installment, aside for a PG rating: it’s a greatest hits mix.
This time our loveable band of misfits return to the Academy to help Commandant Lassard train his latest recruits – and consequently, save the Academy: Due to cutbacks, the Governor has decided to close one of the state’s two Academies, thereby pitting Lassard against Commandant Mauser (who now runs the second one).
Naturally, Mauser is not the sort to play fair – and he’s even getting Sergeants Copeland and Blanks to help.
But Lassard has Mahoney, Jones, Tackleberry, Hightower, Hooks, and even Callahan. With their collective experience and wily ways, he hopes to be able to outdo Mauser’s Academy of near-perfect specimens. Unfortunately, they’re saddled with a bunch of new recruits the likes of which we haven’t seen since they first joined the force.
- Ms. Fackler: Wanting to spend more time with her husband, she decides to sign up. But the roles are reversed from the first film and now he wants to prevent her from joining the force. It’s a near-carbon copy of the original, minus the acrobatics, but it’s still funny because it’s a mirror skit.
- Sweetchuck: Although the character is reintroduced from the second film (in which he was a shop keeper), he stands out by being an utter wimp. His unforgettable ride to the Academy on a scooter echoes his timidity and perseverance – and gets a few laughs along the way.
- Hedges: Unfortunately, this character serves no other purpose but to take the place of Kim Cattrall’s rich girl in the first picture. Even his motivation for joining the force isn’t explored. Too bad. He could have made for a good contrast.
- Bud: Tackleberry’s brother in law has a few great moments with his dad, with whom he’s extremely competitive (as shown in the previous film – only more so here). Interestingly, Tackleberry’s spouse doesn’t show up at all.
- Nabuto: A Japanese exchange student who started off at Mauser’s Academy and whom he had transferred, his poor grasp of English and American “culture” gets him in all sorts of pickles.
- Karen Adams: Played by Shawn Weatherly, Miss USA and Universe 1980, she’s basically a blonde love interest for Mahoney. She has no significant part to play. Not that Weatherly could have played it, anyway.
- Zed: To me, Bobcat Goldthwait stole the show as Zed. Little did I know then that he was a recurring character from the previous film – except that now, his gang leader is in a rehabilitation program and has left his gang behind. He’s not as funny to me these days (I was 13, after all!), but I like how original he is – and he does have some of the best moments.
The gags in this film are rehashes of old ones (ex: even the hooker returns), and are sometimes repeated frequently, but they’re well-delivered – and they’re certainly better than in PA2. Sometimes they put bits together to freshen them up (ex: Proctor is naked in public, and then winds up at the Blue Oyster) and, contrived though it may be, it works.
And there are a few inspired moments:
- I loved that Zed crashes after taunting Sweetchuck on their way to the Academy, and that Sweetchuck drives by afterwards at his unfathomably slow pace. Now, this comeuppance would usually be the gag, but they also had Sweetchuck crash, which makes it even funnier.
- I was very pleased that Hooks is now the driving instructor and drives at lightspeed with accuracy. Nice.
- I ADORE that Nagata and Callahan hook up. It was so unexpected and so perfect.
- I also like the action-oriented ending, in which the governor is kidnapped. It’s by far the series’ best finale, complete with cool jet-ski chases, and Jones and Nabuto’s martial arts combat. It’s surprisingly more exciting than some action films (although it’s poorly-edited – you can tell when they switch between actors and stunt people).
And there are a number of gags, references, subtleties, …etc., that I didn’t get as a kid that I get now. That makes a world of difference because I now have other things to tickle my funny bone. Not that the old ones bore me yet: somehow, rehashed though they may be, I still find most of them pretty funny (although they have pushed their limit).
All told, ‘Police Academy 3’ is a massive improvement over its predecessor and it’s a nice complement to the original; the two combined make for a nice double-bill. Having said this, one must dock points for lack of inventiveness, but add points for its basic plot, consistency and marked professionalism. Welcome back, Mahoney and co!
Date of viewing: February 21, 2016