Police Academy 2: Their First Assignment (1985) / Comedy-Action

MPAA Rated: PG-13 for language, crude humor, brief nudity, and sexual humor
Running Time: 97 min.

Cast: Steve Guttenberg, David Graf, Art Metrano, Howard Hesseman, Michael Winslow, Colleen Camp, Bob Goldthwait, Bubba Smith, Tim Kazurinski, Peter Van Norden, Bruce Mahler, Marion Ramsey, George Gaynes, Julie Brown
Director: Jerry Paris
Screenplay: Barry W. Blaustein, David Sheffield
Review published November 28, 2004

Here, our young cadets have graduated, and have to help one of the precincts in the city, led by Capt. Pete Lassard (Hesseman, About Schmidt), brother of the police academy's Cmdt. Eric Lassard.  It seems Pete has 30 days to improve his terrible record fighting the gang elements in his precinct, and he needs new blood to help the tired, burnt-out officers he has.  Out to make sure he fails is the watch commander, Lt. Mauser (Art Metrano, Murder in Mind), who is to be offered a promotion to captain of the precinct should Lassard fail.  The bumbling cops have their hands full, as there is crime at every turn, with an especially nasty gang leader heading the anarchy, Zed (Goldthwait, One Crazy Summer).

The main reasons why this second entry is such a step down comes from two factors: most of the jokes are redundant from the first film, while what few changes are made are for the worse.  Perhaps it's best to see what's new and what's been left out here:

What's New

The setting.  Although we did get a taste of what the inept cadets would be like once they hit the streets in Police Academy, this whole film puts the crew in the police department and on patrol.  Unfortunately, what results is a very similar setting as the first film, with mindless thugs running around causing havoc, and the cops too dumb or confused to be effective. 

New characters.  Pete Lassard is the new leader, but as played by Hesseman, he is flavorless, and it is obvious his leadership skills probably warrant his removal as captain anyway.  Every rookie gets to ride along with seasoned veterans, but these older guys aren't very funny.  There's Sgt. Vinnie Schtulman, a fat slob who will eat just about anything.  Sgt. Kathleen Kirkland is little more than a female version of Tackleberry (Graf, Citizen Ruth), but is cute enough that I don't mind.  The new nemesis within the department is Lt. Mauser, practically a carbon copy of Lt. Harris from the first film, but still nicely played by Art Metrano.  Tim Kazurinski (SNL alum) plays the merchant who keeps getting hurt -- pretty weak stuff here.  We also have a prominent real enemy in Zed, played by comedian Bobcat Goldthwait -- this role basically typecast him as the angry and barely intelligible screaming guy in many movies to come -- a real shame since Goldthwait is actually funny when he's NOT acting like a total twit.

New crew. Veteran comedy actor/director Jerry Paris takes over as director, replacing Hugh Wilson.  Neither director is particularly inspired, and it's hard to tell much difference.  The big change comes in the screenwriters.  Out go Pat Proft and Neal Israel, who would go on to try to replicate Police Academy, in their knock-off, Moving Violations.  "Saturday Night Live" writers Blaustein and Sheffield sign on, and the results are rather hopeless given the limitations of these characters.  We get the same characters doing the same jokes, and the new characters are not really up to the same standards.

What's Out

What Police Academy 2 lacks is the sexy eye-candy of Kim Cattrall and Leslie Easterbrook, and with them out of the picture, so is much of the good sexual humor.  Colleen Camp just isn't as good a replacement, since her character is so skewed, her relationship with David Graf seems like perversion.  Cadets Leslie Barbara, George Martin, Kyle Blankes are also gone, but they're no big loss.  While the talents of G.W. Bailey are missed, Art Metrano fills in his shoes adequately enough to care.  Essentially, what Police Academy 2 is really missing are the big laughs of the first film, no doubt because it is tamer (dropping to a PG-13 in rating).  In trying for more broad appeal, the sanitization proves to be disastrous.

Conclusion

Police Academy 2 makes a few tweaks here and there, but it's essentially a sloppier, watered-down version of the first entry.  A few chuckles are found early on, but eventually, the jokes run out, replaced by idiotic fighting, chases, and screaming for the final half hour.  Rushed into theaters to capitalize on the momentum of the surprise hit first film, it's obvious there just wasn't enough talent to make this worthwhile, and with every character only having one funny trait, there's not much new to be done with them.  DOA from inception, Police Academy 2 will probably only entertain people who like any comedy that is juvenile, crude and excessively tacky.

-- Followed by Police Academy 3: Back in Training (1986)

Qwipster's rating:

2004 Vince Leo