Mention the words Police Academy and most people will generally flinch, remembering just how awful the films were. True, the franchise was done to death, with each successive film shedding long term cast members whilst basically retelling the same story and using the same jokes time after time. The first of the movies was released in 1984, and it went on to spawn no less than six sequels, one a year until 1989, and a further one in 1994.
The first Police Academy film wasn’t all that bad to be honest. It took the box office by storm, which is probably why it led to so many sequels, and whilst it could never be called a masterful piece of cinematography, it had enough funny moments to keep you chuckling through to the end at the antics of these so-called police cadets.
Why were the cadets so awful? Well, the reason was that the Mayor of the city had decided to relax the entrance requirements for police training college to allow more ordinary people in. Turns out these rules were there for a reason, as the motley crew of new cadets that join up are anything but ordinary people.
Whilst the film is more of an ensemble piece, it does kind of centre around one cadet in particular, Carey Mahoney, played by Steve Guttenberg (four films in the series were even enough for Steve!). Mahoney was a petty criminal who was forced into joining the force by his parole officer as an alternative to going to prison. If Maloney quits, he goes to jail, so he sets about trying to get himself expelled instead. Trouble is, the chief of police, who doesn’t like the Mayor’s new plan at all, has decided that no matter what he is not going to reject any of the students, but instead determines to make their lives a misery, forcing them to quit and so prove the Mayor’s scheme a failure.
The film also starred Kim Cattrall, better known now for her role in Sex and the City, as Cadet Karen Thompson and ex-American Football player Bubba Smith as the huge Cadet Moses Hightower, a giant of a man, but kind hearted and previously employed as a florist. These two characters are the ones that associate with Maloney most in the film, and indeed it is Hightower who eventually saves the day at the end of the film when Maloney and Captain Harris, the cadets nemesis, are taken hostage on a rooftop.
However, it was the supporting castÂ where many of the truly ridiculous and most memorableÂ gags came from. There was the laughably high pitched Laverne Hooks, who couldn’t half yell when she needed to, the gun obsessed Tackleberry and of course everybodys favourite, Larvell Jones, the human sound effect machine. Played by Michael Winslow, his character appeared in all the films and the spin off TV series, and whenever he appeared on screen you knew you were in for a treat, whether it be pretending to talk on a police radio, complete with distortion effects, imitating a police siren or generally just making strange, yet realistic noises. Quite how the guy made these noises I have no idea, but I believe it all came directly from him, and didn’t rely on any technological help.