Police Academy 3: Back in Training

February 1, 2011

Somehow or other—call it laziness, call it poor planning, call it a cruel punishment from the gods—I missed Police Academy 2, in which the nuts and bolts from the original film were sent out on assignment.

So I can’t judge how the formula from the first film worked when taken out of the academy and brought to the streets. But it must have displeased somebody, because in Police Academy 3: Back in Training, it’s back-to-school time for the original class of recruits.

Except that, this outing, they’re helping instruct a new set of flatfoots (flatfeet?) in the delicacies of police work. So, returning are: the normal guy (Steve Guttenberg), the huge guy (Bubba Smith), the Rambopsychotic guy (David Graf), the, ah, robust woman (Leslie Easterbrook), the wimpy woman who says “Dirtbag” (Marion Ramsey), and the guy who makes funny noises with his mouth (Michael Winslow).

These retreads are trotted out to perform their same gags from the first film (and, I’ll bet, from the second); each has his or her personalized shtick, which is played out in bizarre, not particularly funny ritual. The only difference: This film depends less on gross-out humor than the original, in which, if you’ll remember the scene, a man’s head and a horse’s hindquarters were given much comic emphasis.

The cops have been brought back to school to help the dithering, senile commander (George Gaynes). One of the town’s police academies is to be shut down, and Gaynes has to turn out a better class than his rival (Art Metrano) to stay in business.

These new recruits have more to do than the veterans. The insane pairing of former “Saturday Night Live” nerd Tim Kazurinsky and a manic screamer named Bobcat Goldthwait is given some attention, although the film soon forgets about them.

Most notable new recruit is played by former Miss Universe Shawn Weatherly, a knockout who made some sort of television history last year when she starred as an amateur deep-sea diver in the decade’s weirdest TV series, “OceanQuest.” She dons a wetsuit here, too, for the big finale, in which the bad guys are apprehended in a jet-ski chase.

PA3 is an entirely limp affair. Luckily, it is only 75 minutes or so long. Gene Quintano’s script actually contains the kernels of a few comic ideas, but they’re buried in Jerry Paris’s direction (he used to be the neighbor on the “Dick Van Dyke Show”), which flits from one joke to the next without rhyme, and god knows without reason.

First published in the Herald, March 1986

The Police Academy movies were a nightmare. When people say “movies are worse than ever,” please remind them of this era. Just completely grueling. But why did I bother mentioning “OceanQuest”? Because I had spent a summer doing the TV column for the Seattle Times, and had a little fun at the expense of that daffy TV show, and somehow I felt territorial about it.


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