What an institution!
"When Marge told me that she was joining the police academy, I thought it would be fun and exciting. Y'know, like that movie: Spaceballs. But instead it's been painful and disturbing, like that movie
is a 1984 comedy film directed by Hugh Wilson, and starring Steve Guttenberg, Kim Cattrall and G.W. Bailey. It grossed approximately $146 million worldwide and spawned six sequels of varying quality.
Short on police recruits, a new female mayor has announced a policy requiring the police department to accept all willing recruits, regardless of height, weight, age, race, or education. Not everyone in the police force is happy about the new changes. The main character, Carey Mahoney, is a repeat offender (namely he's a Karmic Trickster
with a bad habit of retaliating to offenses in criminal ways) who is forced to join the police academy as an alternative to jail, a proposal by the officer who has been lenient on Mahoney due to knowing his father. Mahoney reluctantly agrees to this and decides that he will get himself thrown out, which would leave him free of the deal. The new standards have resulted in a rather large group of Ragtag Bunch of Misfits
, with Mahoney being the most normal and sane among them
However, the chief of police, outraged by the mayor's lowered requirements, decides that the new cadets should be forced to quit rather than being thrown out. Lieutenant Harris, who trains the cadets, agrees with the plan and employs tactics to make their lives as miserable as possible so that they do in fact quit. Mahoney tries many schemes to get thrown out anyway, but begins to bond with his fellow cadets.
Among these characters include Moses Hightower
, a Gentle Giant
and former florist, Larvell Jones
, master of both martial arts and vocal effects (played by veteran performer Michael Winslow), Karen Thompson
, Mahoney's Love Interest
and the main reason he doesn't bail out of the academy completely, Eugene Tackleberry
, gun enthusiast and off his rocker in that regard
, and Laverne Hooks, a shy, mousy woman who is also accident prone.
Gradually, and surprisingly, many of the misfits grow into competent officers.
This spawned a total of six sequel films, a live-action TV series
, as well as a children's cartoon series
and a fantastic amount of merchandising. There has also been talk of an eighth Police Academy film being directed by Steve Guttenberg.
The various sequels include:
- Police Academy 2: Their First Assignment (1985). The misfits have graduated from the Academy. The film follows several of them in their first assignment to a police precinct. They have to face a local gang. The main character to not return is Officer Thompson, while it introduces Bobcat Goldthwait as the gang leader and a member of the force in later installments.
- Police Academy 3: Back in Training (1986). There are two Police Academies in New York. The first being the familiar establishment of the first film, the other being a military-style organization. With the city deciding to axe one of them, the former misfits want to ensure the survival of their academy.
- Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol (1987). Commandant Eric Lassard (George Gaynes) decides that the police force is overworked and understaffed, so he comes up with the idea of recruiting civilian volunteers to work side-by-side with his officers in a program called "Citizens On Patrol" (COP). The former misfits have to do the training and deal with sabotage efforts from within the police.
- Police Academy 5: Assignment Miami Beach (1988). Lassard is reaching retirement age. But first he is invited to Miami to the National Police Chiefs Convention. He is to receive an award for his efforts. He brings along some of his favorite students. He unwittingly interferes with the plans of a local group of jewel thieves. The New York cops get to fight Miami criminals across Miami Beach and the Everglades.
- Police Academy 6: City Under Siege (1989). New York City is facing a string of high-profile robberies by a gang. Lassard and his crew are assigned with capturing them. However the criminals seem to learn of any police plan ahead of time, indicating the presence of a Mole in the ranks. The gang members also appear to have skills equal to the most eccentric members of the force.
- Police Academy: Mission to Moscow (1994). An attempt to revive the series. Russian Commandant Alexandrei Nikolaivich Rakov (Christopher Lee) needs help against the local mafia. He decides to ask for assistance from the United States police. Lassard and his crew get the assignment. Meanwhile, mob boss Konstantine Konali (Ron Perlman) plans to bring down any computer security system in the world.
The television incarnations of the franchise include:
- Police Academy: The Animated Series (1988-1989). A 65-Episode Cartoon produced by Ruby-Spears Productions and Warner Bros. Television. Featuring animated versions of the characters from the film series, along with a new supporting cast and a unique Rogues Gallery.
- Police Academy: The Series (1997-1998). A live-action show, featuring some of the newest recruits of the academy. Sgt. Larvell "Motor Mouth" Jones was the only character kept from the film series. Lasted 1 season, 26 episodes.
This Movie Series Contains Examples Of:
- Abnormal Ammo: Tackleberry's tear gas round in Their First Assignment and the tracking device from Mission to Moscow.
- Abusive Parent: Played with, as Kirkland's father and brother routinely get into good natured but violent fistfights in the home. Even Tackleberry is unnerved by it.
- Actor Existence Failure: Unfortunately, Tackleberry, Hightower, and House won't be returning for the eighth movie.
- A Father to His Men: Commandant Lassard, it must run in the family because his brother Pete Lassard is the same way. Mahoney displays some signs of this also.
- Agents Dating: In Their First Assignment, Tackleberry goes on a date with fellow officer Kirkland, which culminates in them going back to her place for nookie — but before that can happen, they must (seductively) remove the large number of guns they have hidden on their respective bodies.
- All There in the Manual: According to the script for Their First Assignment, Proctor's first name is "Carl".
- Amazon Chaser: Most of Callahan's appeal to the male characters are her Amazon-like traits.
- Animated Adaptation
- Are You Pondering What I'm Pondering?: In Assignment Miami Beach, Harris discovered that Lassard was supposed to retire the previous year.
Harris: (laughing) Proctor, don't you see what this means?!
Proctor: (laughing) No!
- Artifact Title: The characters graduate from the academy at the end of the first film (some of the sequel subtitles seem to be trying to keep it relevant). To be fair, from Back in Training onward, the characters from the first film who remain are now instructors at the academy.
- Artistic License – Cars: The squad cars used for the driving test is a 1976 AMC Matador. It turns into a '74 when Hightower flips it, and no longer has an engine.
- Ass Shove: Lt. Harris and the horse, among other incidents.
- Badass Biker: Tackleberry from Their First Assignment onward.
- Badass Unintentional: The entire cast (except Hightower, Callahan, and Tackleberry, who are just Badass. Oh, and Jones. Even Mahoney, sometimes. Actually...).
- Bar Brawl: At the Blue Oyster in Their First Assignment.
- Beware the Nice Ones: Throw racist comments around Sweet-old Moses Hightower and he'll let you have it!!
- And the race card had to be played twice to provoke a violent reaction. The first time simply invokes a stern look, while the second was in defense of a fellow officer.
- Also don't mess with his uniform. City Under Siege is one of the few times he's provoked to genuine anger when his nameplate is damaged.
Hightower: Now I'm mad...
- Beware the Quiet Ones: Hooks.
- BFG: Tackleberry's other weapons of choice other than Hand Cannons are generally these. In fact, in the cartoon series, he wielded a bazooka.
- Birds of a Feather: when Tackleberry meets new partner Sgt. Kathleen Kirkland. Her family could probably count too.
- Boobs of Steel: Callahan is demonstrably the best unarmed fighter among the cast, in addition to being physically strong (she is an avid weight lifter). Camera angles always accentuate her large chest.
- Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Commandant Lassard, particularly as he is allowed to remain on well past retirement age. Most of the characters to a lesser extent.
- California Doubling: The first four films were filmed entirely or primarily in Toronto.
- Averted in the later films (the ones in Miami and Moscow were indeed filmed there, with Assignment Miami Beach the only one of the series to be shot entirely in California).
- Captain Obvious: In City Under Siege.
Lassard: The word--
Harris: Word on the street, now that might turn something up. Listen to the stoolies, maybe put a few men undercover.
Hurst: Well, Commandant Lassard?
Lassard: The word on the street might... give us a clue!
Harris: (chuckles) I think I just said that. (to Hurst) At his age, the memory comes and goes.
- Car Skiing: In the beginning of the first movie, Mahoney uses car skiing to park a belligerent businessman's car in an otherwise full parking lot.
- Chain Link Fence: Spoofed in Citizens on Patrol when Lt. Harris and his minion climbs a chainlink fence only to have a caretaker come along and unlock the gate while they're climbing over it.
- Jones is able to leap over them in a single bound.
- Chase Scene: Several, but that's to be expected with seven films and two series. Strangely, they rarely involve police cars...
- Back in Training culminates with the instructors and cadets using jet skis to chase speedboats.
- Citizens on Patrol involves hot-air balloons and propellor planes.
- Assignment Miami Beach has a chase involving airboats.
- City Under Siege has the Big Bad in a cherry picker, followed by both a monster truck and a bus.
- Chew Toy: Leslie Barbara in the first film, who only joined the Academy after getting picked on by a gang of bullies. He eventually gets his revenge on them during a citywide riot.
- Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: A lot of characters disappear between each of the films:
- Their First Assignment: Cadet Leslie Barbara, Cadet Karen Thompson, and Cadet George Martín.
- Back in Training: Capt. Pete Lassard and Sgt. Vinnie Schtulman.
- Citizens on Patrol: Cmdnt. Mauser, Sgt. Kyle Blankes, Mrs. Fackler, Cadet Hedges, and Cadet Karen Adams.
- Assignment Miami Beach: Sgt. Carey Mahoney, Officer Tomoko Nogata, Sgt. Chad Copeland, Officer Sweetchuck, Officer Zed, Officer Bud Kirkland, and Sgt. Kathleen Kirkland Tackleberry.
- City Under Siege: Officer Tommy "House" Conklin.
- Mission to Moscow: Sgt. Nick Lassard, Sgt. Laverne Hooks, Sgt. Douglas Fackler, Lt. Proctor, Lt. Moses Hightower, and Commissioner Henry Hurst.
- The only characters to not suffer from this were Cmdnt. Eric Lassard, Sgt. Eugene Tackleberry, & Sgt. Larvell Jones, who appeared in all seven films and both series. Capt. Thaddeus Harris appeared in only five of the films (he was absent in Their First Assignment and Back in Training), while Capt. Debbie Callahan appeared in only six (she was absent in Their First Assignment).
- Cloud Cuckoolander: Commandant Lassard, so very much. Larvell Jones might also qualify, playing video game sound effects in the middle of the night.
- The Comically Serious: The recruits of the rival academy in Back in Training.
- Cool Shades: Tackleberry's.
- Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: A lot of the characters, but Eric Lassard is a repeat offender.
- Cute but Cacophonic: Cadet Hooks is a soft-spoken, timid cadet for much of the first movie, but when she hits her sweet spot, she can be heard in Spain.
- Cut Lex Luthor a Check: City Under Siege's plot.
- Da Chief: Commissioner Hurst.
- A Date with Rosie Palms
- Dark Reprise: In several moments, the main theme is played in a different key.
- Demoted to Extra: Eric Lassard in Their First Assignment and, to a lesser extent, Mission to Moscow.
- Diabolus Ex Nihilo: The climax of Back in Training and Citizens on Patrol involve problems that appear out of nowhere, and presumably don't even exist before said climax. In the fourth movie, Proctor inadvertently causes the crisis. Fackler unknowingly caused one in the first film.
- Disaster Dominoes: Fackler is often the cause of these. In the first movie, he causes a citywide riot completely by accident.
- Disguised in Drag: Cadet Martin in the first movie did this to a minor degree to sneak in and out of female cadets' rooms, until he was caught by Callahan.
- Distaff Counterpart: Callahan is basically a female version of Tackleberry (with an even more serious personality).
- Distracted by the Sexy: In City Under Siege, a man drops a barbell on his chest in the gym and almost dies because everyone is too busy watching Callahan to notice.
- Does Not Know His Own Strength: Hightower, he is rather careful around people but property damage can and has happened.
- Donut Mess with a Cop: Surprisingly for a comedy movie series about the police, this trope doesn't get played until Citizens on Patrol. Then Zed tries to teach the students the most important thing to know while on patrol: how to eat a doughnut.
- Expy: Multiple times characters left, but were replaced by other characters with identical personalities and characteristics. For example, Nick Lassard, who joins the cast in Assignment Miami Beach, is identical in character to Carey Mahoney, who left after Citizens on Patrol. Kyle Connors, who shows up in Mission to Moscow, is also near-identical to Mahoney and Nick. The characters Thaddeus Harris and Mauser are also almost identical.
- Extended Disarming: In Their First Assignment, it involves Tackleberry and Kathleen Kirkland (new partner-turned-paramour whom he would later marry) getting ready for romantic relations. After the lights go out a forgotten sidearm discharges. Followed by a satisfied moan from Kirkland.
- The Faceless: The Big Bad in City Under Siege, until The Reveal.
- Fair Cop: Every single movie.
- Fantastic Rank System: Sort of: For most of the series, Callahan fraternizes with Mahoney and friends, helping along with their schemes and pranks and following their lead as just one of the gang, even though she helped train them and outranks them all.
- Fat and Skinny: Mauser and Proctor
- Fauxreigner: In the first movie, George Martin pretends to be Latin American because the ladies love it.
- Flanderization: In the first two films, Commandant Lassard is generally quite competent, if slightly ineffectual. Starting with Back in Training however, he becomes more and more absent-minded. May be justified because he is getting older. Harris and Callahan start out as stern but rather competent instructors, by Citizens on Patrol, Harris is a fumbling grump and Callahan is a sexy valkyrie.
- Practically all of the recurring cast was horribly flanderized as the movies piled up, except maybe Mahoney.
- Fruit Cart: Happens in City Under Siege.
- Gag Boobs: Callahan's large breasts are frequently used for sight gags.
- Gay Bar Reveal: The Blue Oyster.
- If you're in this movie, you're straight, and you hear "El Bimbo", RUN FOR YOUR LIFE!!!
- Gentle Giant: Moses Hightower.
- Genre Shift: The first, third and fourth involves police training with the antagonists showing up at the end. The second, fifth, sixth, and seventh features antagonist reverent to the overall plot.
- Gilligan Cut: In City Under Siege, when Nick suggests he and Jones to go undercover at a possible hideout, Harris insist on going himself. Nick tries to talk him out of it, but a smug and confident Harris insist on going. Then we cut to him and Proctor disguised as window washers, with a terrified Harris clinging on the windows for his life.
Proctor: (washing the windows) Undercover work is sure exciting!
Harris: Shut up, Proctor!
- Groin Attack: In Mission to Moscow, Konali has Callahan in his personal bedroom while she's Bound and Gagged and dressed in a Go-Go Enslavement outfit. When Konali gets on top of Callahan from upon the bed and attempts to kiss her, she uses both of her knees to strike him in the family jewels, making him fall off the bed in a state of excruciating pain.
- Hand Cannon: Tackleberry's sidearm. During its first appearance on the range in the first movie, when asked where he got it, he replies that it was from his mother.
- Hassle-Free Hotwire: In Back in Training, Zed, a criminal-turned-cop, accomplishes this by ripping out the appropriate wires and biting them.
- Henpecked Husband: The witness in Back in Training. He's worried that the suspects will see him, since his wife warned him.
Hurst: Oh, will you get your balls out of your wife's purse?!
- Heel-Face Turn: Zed is the lead villain in Their First Assignment. In Back in Training, he joins the police academy.
- Helium Speech: In Citizens on Patrol, the cadets swap an oxygen bottle for a helium bottle to prank Harris.
- Hot Teacher: Callahan...
- Hypocritical Humor: In Back in Training, two of Mouser's recruits hired as the mayor's bodyguards see themselves as more competent than Lassard's recruits. But when the busboys pull out their guns and demand money and jewels, the mayor tells them to take them out, they fainted.
- Iconic Sequel Character: Bobcat Goldthwait's "Zed" character shows up in Their First Assignment, and ends up joining the Academy in Back in Training.
- IKEA Weaponry
- Improbable Aiming Skills: Tackleberry. He is able to write the phrase "HAVE A NICE DAY" by simple application of More Dakka in City Under Siege.
- Inevitable Waterfall: Seen in Citizens on Patrol.
- Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: In Assignment Miami Beach, Hightower holds one of the diamond thieves over the railing at the roof of the hotel to make him talk.
"Want me to drop you somewhere?"
- The Jinx: Fackler, especially due to flanderization as the series went on...
- Kick Me Prank: Done with Tan Lines to Captain Harris in Assignment Miami Beach, by having people call him "dork".
- Knock Knock Joke
- Latin Lover: See "Fauxreigner", above.
- Law of Inverse Recoil: Subverted in Citizens on Patrol.
- Leatherman: The denizens of the Blue Oyster Bar.
- Lima Syndrome: In Assignment Miami Beach, Eric Lassard gets taken as a hostage but the hostage taker eventually felt sorry for him.
- Lowered Recruiting Standards: What kicks off the first movie's plot.
- Malaproper: The mayor in City Under Siege.
- Make Me Wanna Shout: In Back in Training, Zed unhinged a door at the training grounds by screaming at the lock.
- A Man Is Not a Virgin: When Tackleberry begins falling for Kirkland, he goes to Mahoney for advice about women. During the conversation he accidentally reveals to the entire bar that he's a 28-year-old virgin.
- Marshmallow Hell: In Back in Training:
"I love America!"
- Mission Pack Sequel: Citizens on Patrol has a near-identical plot to Back in Training, the only major differences being that the third deals with new Police Academy recruits, and the fourth is based around a civilian training course. In fact, the two movies were meant to be shot back-to-back, but director Jerry Paris falling seriously ill (and later dying) forced the filmmakers to delay shooting of the fourth film.
- Murderous Thighs: Callahan's unarmed combat training includes this. After her first demonstration, everyone volunteers to be next.
- Ms. Fanservice: Callahan.
- Nature Abhors a Virgin: Tackleberry.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: In City Under Siege, when Harris calls out the others.
- Not with the Safety on, You Won't: Though not mocked for it, the thug holding Harris hostage at the end of the first movie doesn't have his finger on the trigger.
- Oh, Crap:
- Lt. Harris in the first film, when Hightower gets pissed after Copeland made a racist remark on Hooks.
- George Martin, when he sees the riot just down the street.
- Only Sane Man: Mahoney, compared to his wacky friends.
- Parrot Pet Position: Lassard's goldfish.
- The Pig Pen: Sgt. Vinnie Schtulman.
- Police Lineup
- Psycho Rangers / Quirky Miniboss Squad: The Wilson Heights Gang in City Under Siege.
- The Quiet One: Moses Hightower who usually says only a few words at a time.
- Real Estate Scam: The Big Bad of City Under Siege orchestrates a crimewave alongside an old bus route, which would soon be the route of a train line. The crimewave would then drive down property prices allowing him to buy them and then resell them when the train line is complete and the price skyrocketed.
- Real Men Wear Pink: Moses Hightower owned a flower shop before becoming a cop, and the sixth movie reveals he does cross-stitch.
- Also, Zed loves soap operas, even as a gang leader.
- Recurring Element: Every movie, except Mission to Moscow, begins with a view of the city.
- Redundant Rescue: Citizens on Patrol.
- Reluctant Retiree: Lassard hits mandatory retirement age in Assignment Miami Beach (Since he becomes progressively more senile as the series goes on, this is probably justified).
- Rogues Gallery: The cartoon had one.
- Satchel Switcheroo: In Assignment Miami Beach, Lassard's luggage was in a suitcase externally identical to one in which a gang of diamond smugglers had stashed their goods. They claim the wrong bags at the airport, setting off the main plot.
- Scary Black Man: Hightower
- Lampshaded in Back in Training.
Cabbie: Look, wise guy, don't think a blue uniform scares me.
Mahoney: No, sir, this is not a scary uniform.
Cabbie: No, it's not a scary uniform.
Bystander: That's a scary uniform.
- Sequel Goes Foreign: Mission to Moscow.
- Sexy Soaked Shirt: Callahan's lifesaving demonstration, with no shortage of volunteers.
- Shooting Gallery: One of the training exercises in the first movie, and used to demonstrate how nuts Tackleberry is. Barbara accidentally fires his shotgun as soon as he picks it up and "kills" an innocent target, and then turns around to ask the instructor what to do next; he sweeps the shotgun muzzle across the entire crowd and everybody hits the dirt... except Tackleberry, who calmly remains standing and smiling. Of course, Tackleberry being a gun nut, probably was staring at the weapon rather than the target, and noticed that he didn't re-cock it and so couldn't be fired anyway (still a dumb move, but more understandable).
- Shrinking Violet: ...although Cadet Hooks can be damn loud when she wants to be.
- Shout-Out: City Under Siege had a lot of these:
- When Tackleberry's villain counterpart shoots a smiley face into a paint can, then Tackleberry trumps him by writing HAVE A NICE DAY on the wall with his machine gun.
- Harris threatens Proctor with his revolver, saying "Go ahead, make my Christmas."
- When Proctor is driving the bus during the final chase scene, he barely avoids hitting a corner fresh fruit stand as Harris yells, "Look out for Gene and Roger's fruit stand!"
- Spit Take: Tony in Assignment Miami Beach.
- Status Quo Is God: Became the case starting with Back in Training.
- Stock Footage: In City Under Siege, they used the same footage of an exploding factory from The War of the Worlds.
- Smoking Hot Sex: In the first film, Commandant Lassard suggests to his audience that they should take a cigarette break after he had a blow job done to him by a hooker hiding inside a podium while he was giving a presentation.
- Suspiciously Similar Substitute:
- Lt. Mauser of Their First Assignment and Back in Training, and Capt. Harris of the first and final four sequels are extremely similar in personality. Both have an instant dislike of the protagonists and of Mahoney in particular, resulting in them being the butts of many pranks. In fact, they are so similar that when Harris returns for the other sequels, he's inherited Mauser's assistant, Proctor, and the character dynamic has not changed at all.
- Sgt. Mahoney of the first four movies, Sgt. Nick Lassard of Assignment Miami Beach and City Under Siege, and Cadet Kyle Connors of Mission to Moscow, since they're all good-natured troublemakers who fight for justice.
- Kyle Ault from Citizens on Patrol seems intended to inherit Mahoney's role. For added points, he's played by David Spade.
- Tan Lines: In Assignment Miami Beach, Harris is tanning on the beach. Nick writes "DORK" in sunblock on his chest. When he wakes up and walks on the crowded beach, Hilarity Ensues.
- He did it because Harris called him a buttwipe for standing in his sun.
- Teacher/Student Romance: Callahan gets naughty with at least two cadets during the film series.
- Tempting Fate: In City Under Siege, he's finally in his own precinct away from Lassard and his misfits. Then, he finds himself working alongside them due to fears of there being a leak in Harris' precinct.
- Terrible Trio:
- The jewel thieves Tony, Mouse, and Sugar in Assignment Miami Beach.
- The Wilson Heights gang in City Under Siege.
- This Is Gonna Suck: Mahoney's face in the final scene of the first movie.
- Those Two Bad Guys: Cadets Blankes and Copeland (though they're more jerkasses, and racists).
- Those Two Guys: Sweetchuck and Zed.
- Threatening Shark: Subverted in Assignment Miami Beach. A shark swam up to the beach sending everybody running...until it ran right into Tackleberry, who pointed his gun right in the shark's face and said, "You leave the swimming area NOW, mister!", and the shark swam away.
- Toilet Humour: Several times, including a fart in court, swapping a shampoo bottle with a bottle of quick-setting glue and a spray-deodorant can with a pepperspray can, and a surrepitously-relocated porta-potty. Colliding with a horse qualifies too.
- Trading Bars for Stripes: Played with Mahoney.
- Zed too, considering he was the Big Bad in Their First Assignment.
- The Trickster: Mahoney.
- Tyrant Takes the Helm: Lt. Mauser.
- Ultimate Job Security:
- Why Captain Harris hasn't been dishonorably discharged (or whatever the police equivalent is) is a mystery.
- Commandant Lassard is given this trope by the end of the fifth film.
- Proctor also. He's not exactly playing with a full deck, yet he makes it all the way up to Lieutenant.
- In real life Tackleberry probably wouldn't make it past the tear gas incident in the second film.
- Unfortunate Name: Cadet Leslie Barbara. Who is male.
- Verbal Tic: Commandant Lassard. Many, many, many times.
- Villainous Breakdown: Tony in Assignment Miami Beach (briefly).
- Voice Changeling: Jones and to lesser extent, the main villain in the 6th film.
- When All You Have Is a Hammer: Tackleberry's brother-in-law Bud Kirkland may have been brought up on boxing by his dad, but all he has is one solid punch that gets the job done each time.
- Tackleberry's solution to any situation is to shoot at it. This includes, but is not limited to, extinguishing a man's cigar, getting a refund from a payphone and getting a cat out of a tree.
- Where Everybody Knows Your Flame: The Blue Oyster.
- Yes-Man: Lt. Proctor.
- You Are Too Late: Tackleberry arrives too late to the action during the first film's riot. He doesn't take it gracefully.