Police Academy 3: Back in Training (1986) / Comedy-Action

MPAA Rated: PG for language and some crude humor
Running Time: 83 min.

Cast: Steve Guttenberg, Art Metrano, Michael Winslow, Bobcat Goldthwait, George Gaynes, Shawn Weatherly, Leslie Easterbrook, Bubba Smith, David Graf, Tim Kazurinsky, Brian Tochi, Marion Ramsey, Scott Thomson, Brant von Hoffman, Bruce Mahler, Ed Nelson, Debralee Scott, Lance Kinsey
Director: Jerry Paris
Screenplay: Gene Quintano
Review published November 30, 2004

To mangle a phrase, “The third time’s the harm”, as Police Academy 3: Back in Training takes us back to the series’ roots, but any semblance of cleverness, wit or even dumb fun has been sucked out of the equation.  How can one explain the rating changing from an R for Police Academy, to a PG-13 for Police Academy 2, and now a PG for part 3?  Easily.  This film was created for the most juvenile of people in mind, whether that means age or intellect, as it is only a few minor cuss words away from being safe for TV fare.  Not that you can’t be funny and have a PG rating, mind you.  Many films have.  However, this is a series that has a reputation for stupid, non-PC chutzpah, and by choosing to go for mass appeal, these once brazen idiots have lost all their cojones.

In this third entry, the governor of the state has decided to cut back on the number of police academies, and one of the city’s two, one commanded by lovable dunderhead Cmdt. Lassard (Gaynes) and the other by conniving kiss-ass Cmdt. Mauser (Metrano), has to go.  The underhanded Mauser has no intention of being the one who gets the axe, so he utilizes his men to undermine Lassard’s academy of inept lackeys at every opportunity.  However, Lassard calls in his favorite graduates (i.e. most of the crew from the previous films) to give the new recruits a lesson on police procedure, thwart their competition, and save the academy.

Police Academy 3 starts off on the right foot by finding a good reason to put the focus back where it belongs, in the actual police academy instead of out fighting crime.  However, mistakes are made every other step of the way.  Very little effort is made to have these characters do anything differently than they’ve done in the previous two films, recycling the same dumb-ass jokes and pranks in the same dumb-ass ways.  The writers must realize this, but can do nothing about it.  These characters have absolutely no depth outside of their one or two known idiosyncrasies.  So to counter that, all they do is offer more offbeat recruits, each with his or her own set of contrived personality flaws to exploit for (hopefully) humorous situations.

It’s the third film, and the third time they’ve changed over screenwriting duties, this time going to just one man, Gene Quintano, whose previous claims to scripting fame came from writing the horrible mid-80s version of King Solomon’s Mines and one of the worst 3D films ever made (and that’s saying more than you can imagine) in Comin’ at Ya!  Let’s just say, we’re not in good hands with Gene.

All there is left to this series is complete adherence to formula, and nothing more.  Those who have seen the first two films should expect more of the same, only blander and devoid of fresh humor.  The tank ran out of gas halfway through the first film, and unfortunately Police Academy 3 has only the merest trace of residual fumes left at its disposal.  The police force may be back in training, but the makers of this bomb need to be back working at their previous jobs.

-- Followed by Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol

Qwipster's rating:

©2004 Vince Leo