Thursday, August 26, 2004

Police Academy 2: Their First Assignment (1985): A Review

A film by Jerry Paris

"Police Academy 2: Their First Assignment" is the first of six sequels to 1984's "Police Academy". The screwball recruits have graduated from the Academy and are now ready for their first assignment as full fledged police officers. With the city in the midst of a crime wave, the rookie officers are assigned to the city's worst police precinct. The Captain in charge of the precinct just happens to be Pete Lassard (Howard Hesseman), the brother of the Commandant of the Police Academy, Eric Lassard (George Gaynes). Pete asks his brother for a dozen good men. Eric gives him six, all of which are the screwball recruits from the first movie. Pete Lassard is given thirty days to turn his precinct around or he'll be out of a job.

In charge of the rookies is Lt Mauser (Art Metrano), an obvious replacement for the Harris (G.W. Bailey) character. Mauser sets himself up in opposition to both the rookies as well as Pete Lassard. Mauser is gunning for Lassard's job. Each of the rookies are given a partner to train with and learn the ropes. Strangely enough, each training partner seems to bungle their job as much as the rookies. Returning for this movie are Mahoney (Steve Guttenberg), Hightower (Bubba Smith), Tackleberry (David Graf), Hooks (Marion Ramsey), Fackler (Bruce Mahler), and Jones (Michael Winslow). This movie (and the series, really) is built around Mahoney and his confrontations with authority figures. He is the most likeable character, but a prankster. Of course Mauser takes a personal dislike to Mahoney from the start.

At this point there is nothing truly wrong with the "Police Academy" series. The movies are funny, though they are less funny with each subsequent movie. They are the typical screwball comedy, but the comedy gets more and more family friendly with each movie (the first movie had an "R" rating, this one has "PG-13", the rest have "PG") and it loses whatever edge it once had.

Nearly 20 years later (has it been so long?), is the movie still funny? Not as much as it was when I was twelve. "Police Academy 2" makes me smile at times, mostly because the situations are familiar and watching the movie is nostalgia now. The only thing about the movie that is really wrong is the character of Zed (Bobcat Goldthwait), a character that is simply annoying and not funny or interesting. Naturally he'll be back for two sequels.

The series is all downhill from here. The highpoint was the first movie, though this one isn't so bad. Still, if you are feeling nostalgic for the series, start from the beginning and quit when you are tired of it all. Most viewers should be able to make it past this one, but the series becomes very bad in a hurry. "Police Academy 2" is one of the better movies in the series, though that may not be saying very much.

No comments: