I forgot how loose eighties comedies are in terms of filmmaking and narrative. I don’t think Wilson has a single good shot in the film. The best ones are workmanlike at best and the worst… well, he has these absurdly weak low angle closeups on David Graf, either to make him look tall or crazy. It’s never clear.
Police Academy never concerns itself with a reasonable plot. For example, romance between Steve Guttenberg and Kim Cattrall sort of disappears after a while. The movie only runs ninety minutes and change, so there’s not a lot of time for subplots–especially not after the relatively lengthy first act. But Guttenberg and Cattrall are the ostensible leads; only Cattrall disappears, replaced with the gag characters.
Pretty much everyone in the movie has a gimmick except Guttenberg, Cattrall and G.W. Bailey. Bailey’s the berating, abusive instructor, but it’s not exactly a gimmick. Bubba Smith is tall, Donovan Scott is a wimp, Bruce Mahler is a klutz. Then there’s Michael Winslow with the sound effects. It goes on and on.
There are some good performances. George Gaynes is funny as the dimwitted, but well-meaning commandant of the academy. Guttenberg is very appealing–one forgets he used to be good at these lead roles. Cattrall’s fine, though she has little do to. Smith, Winslow, Marion Ramsey, all good.
Bailey, unfortunately, is pretty weak. He’s sometimes funny… but he doesn’t have a character.
Police Academy has some all right, stupid laughs. But no smart ones.
Directed by Hugh Wilson; screenplay by Neal Israel, Pat Proft and Wilson, based on a story by Israel and Proft; director of photography, Michael D. Margulies; edited by Robert Brown and Zach Staenberg; music by Robert Folk; production designer, Trevor Williams; produced by Paul Maslansky; released by Warner Bros.
Starring Steve Guttenberg (Cadet Carey Mahoney), Kim Cattrall (Cadet Karen Thompson), G.W. Bailey (Lt. Thaddeus Harris), Bubba Smith (Cadet Moses Hightower), Donovan Scott (Cadet Leslie Barbara), George Gaynes (Commandant Eric Lassard), Andrew Rubin (Cadet George Martín), David Graf (Cadet Eugene Tackleberry), Leslie Easterbrook (Sgt. Debbie Callahan), Michael Winslow (Cadet Larvell Jones), Debralee Scott (Mrs. Fackler), Bruce Mahler (Cadet Douglas Fackler), Ted Ross (Captain Reed), Scott Thomson (Cadet Chad Copeland), Brant von Hoffman (Cadet Kyle Blankes), Marion Ramsey (Cadet Laverne Hooks) and George R. Robertson (Chief Henry J. Hurst).