Police Academy 4: Citizens On Patrol

Police Academy 4Synopsis: The Gang that’s all 4 fun – and fun 4 all!

Sign up for more manic misadventure with the buffoons in blue, this time featuring rising stars Sharon Stone as a reporter who strikes sparks with Mahoney (Steve Guttenberg) and David Spade as a loopy skateboarder.

Cmdt. Lassard (George Gaynes) decides to toughen up neighborhood watch groups by training them to be Citizens on Patrol, or COPs. And guess who the instructors are? The same grads who thought the Fs on their own report card meant “Fantastic.” When rival officer Lt. Harris (G.W. Bailey) sees the blue leading the beleaguered, he decides the time is ripe to discredit the Academy. But leave it to our hapless heroes to save the day – bumblingly – by taking to the skies on biplanes and balloons for a frantic finale. All aboard!

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Police Academy 4: Citizens On Patrol 3.75

eyelights: Callahan’s wet t-shirt.
eyesores: its trite gags. its sub-par performances. its lack of focus. its weak construction. its poor plot.

“Gee, sir, I thought you could only get contempt of court for opening your mouth!”

Although it had been built on the coattails of comedy’s then-box office record-holder, by 1987 the ‘Police Academy’ franchise was already getting old; uninspired sequels had taken the air out of the balloon, and cinemagoers were progressively less interested as the series went on.

Its third sequel, subtitled “Citizens On Patrol”, would put the final nail in the series’ coffin: creatively bankrupt, rehashing the same old gags for the Nth time and inserting well-worn “new” ones, it crossed a point of no return past which the public no longer cared.

‘Police Academy 4’ takes us back to the training camp, but this time the premise is that Commandant Lassard is starting a programme to empower citizens to become part-time law enforcers. Naturally, Captain Harris is against the notion and intends to sabotage it.

Enter Mahoney and company to help Lassard’s pilot project succeed.

Frankly, this picture is a mess: The plot is yet another twist on an old tale, there are too many characters, the performances are terrible, the gags and one-liners aren’t funny, the writing is abysmal, the editing is terrible, and the overall feel is of a lazy comedy geared towards pre-teens.

The opening credit sequences speaks volumes about the quality of this movie: the sight of Mahoney and Jones doing poorly-choreographed head and hand moves to the pathetic “Citizens on Patrol” theme song while driving their patrol car is utterly disheartening.

Ouch. Could it have come to this?

It gets worse.

The plot

  • How can Lassard, who runs the Academy, put citizens on the street? Who authorized that? And isn’t that redundant, now that they have been hiring just about anybody off the streets since the first picture?
  • And how does it make sense that Harris fills in for Lassard while he is away? Firstly, it makes no sense that Lassard would launch his program while he’s in Europe. Secondly, Harris has a precinct to run.

The writing

  • When the film commences, our gang of misfits meet in Lassard’s office at the Academy. But, why would they meet at night? And why in the world would Lassard stay there so late anyway?
  • Not only does the picture bring the return of Captain Harris, but we also discover that Proctor has transitioned from Mauser’s office? How the heck did that happen?
  • In a really lame sequence, Harris takes few patrols with him to chase after a few skateboarders whom he feels are a nuisance. Really? Are they such a big concern that the boss has to get involved?

Or was it just an excuse to pad an otherwise thin movie, as evidenced by the extended skateboarding sequence starring David Spade (in his film debut) and some really bad music?

  • The whole finale at an air show: Somehow the criminals who’ve broken out of jail escape to an air show and can pilot biplanes and hot air balloons. For some reason, Mahoney is with a reporter, and she can also pilot a biplane. Meanwhile, Harris and Proctor commandeer a hot air balloon and a hot air balloon chase ensues. Yes, hot air balloon chase. Utter excitement.

The gags

Boy oh boy are gags pathetic in this one. For instance:

  • Lassard is knocking a golf ball around his office. When Zed arrives, a golf ball lands in his mouth.
  • The Kirkland family only appear in one gratuitous sequence, for a family dinner in which the father and son fight. Naturally. It’s not just extremely tired – it’s also so poorly staged that it has no punch.

Harhar. Pun intended.

  • Captain Harris pratfalls.
  • Cadet House carries his scooter to the Admission table instead of parking it.
  • Hightower’s police dog zones in on Harris’ crotch.
  • A new recruit drives an exercise bike into the pool. And then keeps on riding. WTF.
  • Ms. Feldman, an eager senior, trains.
  • Proctor and Harris are given directions to a restaurant with “the best salad bar” in town. By Mahoney. Naturally, this leads them to the Blue Oyster. Of course. Yawn. So predictable, yet neither of them saw it coming.
  • Watch the C.O.P.s work the streets – in a sequence incredibly clumsy, unrealistic and unfunny. Um… it actually leads to fighting… ninjas?

The performances
Oh, man… the ‘Police Academy’ series was never the source of stellar performances (and ‘Police Academy 2‘ was especially dreadful), but everyone’s phoning it in here. Everyone.

Were they just contractually obligated to appear in this one but didn’t care for it? I mean, the best that Guttenberg can do is mug his way through; he just doesn’t give a crap.

One of the worst, though, is Sharon Stone, who plays a reporter writing a piece on Lassard’s C.O.P. program. She’s not all bad, but there are moments when she literally shouts her lines. WTF.

The characters
One of the problems with ‘Citizens on Patrol’ is that there are far too many characters to incorporate: There are the original recruits, the ones from ‘Police Academy 3‘ and these new ones.

PLUS the villains and side characters.

Ultimately, it’s completely unfocused; it’s no longer Mahoney’s movie, for good or bad. And Zed is now at least on par with Mahoney. Heck, he even gets a love interest (who is really pretty but just can’t act).

So it’s impossible for anyone to get any good screen time – especially with such a weak script.

The editing
Finally, on top of it all, ‘Police Academy 4’ feels like there are scenes missing at the end; it just doesn’t tie together at all. Characters just pop up out of nowhere, and the whole thing is resolved limply.

It totally sucks.

I’ve long wondered if some footage was shot but cut out of the final version. It was! In fact, the DVD has over 12 minutes of deleted scenes. Alas, none of them are taken from the ending sequence. WTF!

Still, although it’s terribly unfunny, this excised footage helps to develop the characters and plot a little bit. But I guess that, at 100 minutes, the film would have been a bit long – for a comedy.

And I suppose that the footage wouldn’t have necessarily made this one better since there are few laughs to be found anyway.

So, ultimately, while ‘Police Academy 4’ doesn’t have as many eye-gougingly bad sequences as the second one did, it’s an incredibly anemic motion picture. It’s marred by limp direction and too many people sharing a limp script. It’s merely a shadow of the original film – and that’s not even stellar stuff by most standards.

Yeesh.

“Citizens On Patrol. What a joke.”

Yeah, don’t get me started.

Date of viewing February 27, 2016

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