Police Academy 4: Citizens On Patrol (1987)

Police Academy 4: Citizens On Patrol (1987)

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Steve Guttenberg. Wasted.
Steve Guttenberg. Wasted.

Twitter Plot Summary: The Police Academy recruits return for a fourth outing. This time, it’s all about civilian volunteers helping clean the streets.

Genre: Comedy/Crime

Director: Jim Drake

Key Cast: Steve Guttenberg, Bubba Smith, Michael Winslow, David Graf, Tim Kazurinsky, Leslie Easterbrook, Marion Ramsay, Bobcat Goldthwait, Sharon Stone, Lance Kinsey, GW Bailey, George Gaynes, Colleen Camp, Brian Tochi, David Spade, Scott Thomson

Five Point Summary:

1. Quickly establish the cast then jump right into it. And there’s not much to jump into.
2. “THIS is skateboarding!”
3. The Blue Oyster again. It’s like a terrible Greatest Hits package.
4. Erm, that’s clearly Hightower as the voodoo chap…
5. This finale feels like a switched-up version of the boat chase in Police Academy 3. Yawn.

By now the writers of the Police Academy series were starting to clutch at straws. Rather than take what made the original film work and expand on it, they decided instead to make the series a parody of itself and keep returning to old tropes and routines that were watered down with each passing film. And so we have Police Academy 4: Citizens On Patrol, aka the one that repeats the plot of the first film and steals the funniest bits from the previous three films.

The regulars are well established by now so we just jump straight into the story, but if you’re starting these films with the fourth in the series then there’s probably something wrong with you. In any case, Commandant Lassard has had an ingenious idea to get ordinary citizens out on patrol. So, nothing at all like the very first film then? Right… What follows are a number of japes and hijinks as the citizens learn the ropes and get out there just in time to help save the city before the end credits roll. There’s almost nothing else to it than that. Once more it’s scriptwriting by numbers, as if no thought went into it beyond stringing together a couple of amusing character beats and misfortunes to beset Captain Harris. Most of which are rehashed versions of ones we’ve seen before, albeit against both Harris and Mauser.

Despite the laissez faire attitude towards writing an actual plot, the Police Academy series is still an enjoyable way of spending 80-odd minutes. Captain Harris and Proctor will make fools of themselves, Mahoney gets to ooze charm and stick it to the man, Jones gets to make noises and Tackleberry gets to obsess about weaponry. The problem by now is that the cast is already so bloated that the insistence on introducing a whole new bunch of recruits means there’s almost nothing for the established faces to do. Mahoney’s clearly reached his peak and that probably explains why Steve Guttenberg didn’t return for the fifth movie.

"Sorry, what do I do with this again?"
“Sorry, what do I do with this again?”

Sharon Stone appears briefly, looking like a poodle with her awesome 80s hair, although that’s not a recommendation. Her part could literally be anybody with a poodle haircut, there’s no personality to her and, it had to be said, she’s no Kim Cattrall. Meanwhile somebody decided that Bobcat Goldthwait needed to be one of the key focal points. Whilst he’s funny he’s better as the guy who dips in and out of the film, causes a bit of anarchy and then disappears just as quickly. Trying to give him more of a personality and even a love interest is a step too far.

The law of diminishing returns is evident in every aspect of this film. Thankfully it doesn’t outstay its welcome, which is just as well given how tired it feels. At least we get to see a young Tony Hawk do a bit of skateboarding. On the other hand we get to experience the dreadful Citizens on Patrol theme song by Michael Winslow (sound effects man Jones) and the LA Dream Team. If you’ve made it this far into the series then you might as well finish off the remaining three films, but  be warned that it’s a rocky road ahead.

Favourite scene: Scaring the new recruits with a voodoo routine and a chainsaw.

Quote: “Don’t you ever touch my balls without asking!”

Silly Moment: The old woman firing Tackleberry’s Magnum.

Score: 2/5

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