Police Academy 5: Assignment Miami Beach (1988)

Police Academy 5: Assignment Miami Beach (1988)

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Just when you think the Vulcan nerve pinch is real, he goes and spoils it.
Just when you think the Vulcan nerve pinch is real, he goes and spoils it.

Twitter Plot Summary: Commandant Lassard is scheduled for retirement and goes to Miami to receive a reward, where he swaps bags with Odo from Star Trek.

Genre: Comedy/Crime

Director: Alan Myerson

Key Cast: Bubba Smith, Michael Winslow, David Graf, Leslie Easterbrook, Marion Ramsey, GW Bailey, Janet Jones, Lance Kinsey, George Gaynes, Matt McCoy, Rene Auberjonois

Five Point Summary:

1. Oh look, a new batch of recruits. I can barely contain my enthusiasm.
2. Odo with a fake tan and a moustache. Oh my.
3. A Jaws spoof. Erm… not sure that worked.
4. Aha, so we think he’s done a Vulcan nerve pinch when, in fact, he hasn’t.
5. I’m sure I’ve seen this finale before… Oh yeah, Police Academy 3.

And so the Police Academy series trundles on with a fourth sequel. Obviously having seen the way the wind was blowing, there is no Steve Guttenberg, no Bobcat Goldthwait and no… well, that’s it really, they’re the only ones who really mattered. This time the group are sent to an awards ceremony in Miami, where Lassard is to receive an award as officer of the decade. He’s also been told that he’s gone past the compulsory retirement age (thanks to some meddling from Captain Harris), so the trip is technically doubling up as his retirement do. Except that Lassard isn’t going to go down without a fight, naturally.

Filling the Steve Guttenberg/Mahoney-shaped hole is Matt McCoy as Lassard’s nephew. He does all the things Mahoney was known for – playing japes against Captain Harris, trying his luck with the ladies and generally being a bit smug. Clearly the character was originally Mahoney in the first draft and then rewritten once Guttenberg decided not to come back. Other than a very brief reference to being Lassard’s nephew, he and Mahoney are interchangeable.

Once again the script delves into cliche territory – when you run out of things for the characters to do, you take them out of their comfort zone and usually send them on holiday. In this case they’re sent to Miami, so basically it’s an excuse for the cast and crew to go to a sunny location for a few weeks and make a film whilst they’re out there. Rene Auberjonois throws subtlety to the wind and goes crazy as Mafia cutout Tony. As this is a Police Academy film, he fits right in. He even takes a shine to Lassard when he kidnaps the Commandant, which is a nice addition.

Yup, that's Odo from Star Trek Deep Space Nine. On the right.
Yup, that’s Odo from Star Trek Deep Space Nine. On the right.

At least the gags this time round are slightly fresher, and not necessarily related to the fact they’re in Miami. The final third owes a large debt to the jet ski finale from Police Academy 3. Apart from that it’s mostly either new jokes or more interesting twists on what we’ve seen in the series before. That’s not to say it’s good, just merely passable. We’re at the stage where characters either need no characterisation (because they’ve been in so many of the other films) or they’re given a name, a defining characteristic and then thrown into the mix. So we get the good looking woman, the big fat black guy and er, Lassard’s nephew. Give them as broad a description as possible and then throw them in at the deep end, never to return. Er, except for Lassard’s nephew.

In some respects the Police Academy series was a good idea – you could have a rolling cast of recruits depending on whomever was available from amongst your regulars and the series then has potential to go on for years. Of course, that only works if you have a story to back it up, and also allow time for characters to at least introduce themselves. Whilst Assignment Miami Beach isn’t too bad (it’s certainly a step up from Police Academy 4), it’s clear that the series is running on fumes.

Favourite scene: Despite it ripping off earlier set pieces in the series, the chase through the Florida marshlands.

Quote: “Well I’m sorry to hear that… Captain Dork!”

Silly Moment: Either the Jaws spoof or Hightower fighting with an alligator. I’m not picky.

Score: 2.5/5

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