Twitter Plot Summary: The tired survivors of the Police Academy franchise go over to Moscow. Because they can.
Director: Alan Metter
Key Cast: George Gaynes, Michael Winslow, David Graf, Leslie Easterbrook, GW Bailey, Christopher Lee, Ron Perlman, Claire Forlani, Charlie Schlatter, Gregg Berger
Five Point Summary:
1. Cross-eyed female newsreader and a male newsreader who’s playing an original Gameboy that has no cartridge in it. Real clever.
2. Christopher Lee – boom!
3. Harris really needs a sidekick. There’s a Proctor-sized hole in this script.
4. Harris in a ballerina outfit. Scraping the barrel.
5. Those end credits are diabolical…
Remember what I’ve said previously about taking characters out of their comfort zone by sending them on a holiday or to a strange setting when the writers run out of ideas? Well the Police Academy franchise is the big winner of that unwanted award, simply because almost every film does this. Thankfully this was the last entry and by all accounts it’s the weakest. Even a 5 year gap between this and the previous entry does little to assist the script. If anything it’s resulted in a much worse film, but I’ll go into a bit more detail on that point shortly. The plot is essentially – send the Police Academy cast to Moscow and watch the insanity unfold. The recognisable faces are joined by Cadet Connors, the third person to fulfil the Mahoney role. He gets the majority of screen time, resulting in the old cast essentially guest starring in the franchise they helped make popular. I’m honestly not sure what the thinking was there other than making the audience watch a younger lead. Suffice to say, it’s a move that strikes another nail in the Police Academy coffin.
Despite the welcome presence of Christopher Lee and Ron Perlman, it is the worst film in the series by far. The overtly slapstick tone spoils it. When you think of the promise the series had after the first couple of films, there’s almost no comparison between them and this final entry. It reached the point whereby it feels like a film trapped between family friendly fare and the adult approach that defined the first movie. Harris is still as incompetent as ever, although as he lacks a dimwitted sidekick (no Proctor I’m afraid). When he ends up on stage dressed as a ballerina, it’s probably a good time to switch the film off and go do something more productive with your time. This time he’s less an outsider and more one of the gang, which after this amount of time is probably a good idea, however this should have received more emphasis. It’s likely that Harris was only given such a proactive role after some of the former big names (Hightower in particular) declined to appear.
The biggest affront is that Lassard is sidetracked for the majority of the film – a misunderstanding at the airport means he joins a funeral party rather than the entourage set up for the visiting Americans and spends the rest of the film interacting with a Russian family. George Gaynes is excellent in everything I’ve seen him in, and a part of me wishes he’d had more to do in this particular film. Another part wishes he’d had no involvement at all given my almost entirely negative opinion of it.
Ignoring my dislike of taking characters out of their natural habitat, the move to Moscow could have been an opportunity to discuss the fall of communism and the ensuing change in the political landscape. Instead we got a slapstick romp that’s more interested in playing on stereotypes than doing anything interesting. Now, on that point – it appears that there were a number of changes made to the script that director Alan Metter was not happy with but had to include. The original draft of the script apparently focused less on slapstick and more on the cultural differences between the Americans and the Russians. Whilst this doesn’t give me much hope that the original draft was actually funny, it does highlight the inherent problems with the movie industry and how a film can change dramatically from initial inception to final product. But even with that said, Mission to Moscow is terrible and, perhaps thankfully, killed the franchise dead.
Favourite scene: Meeting Christopher Lee for the first time, which includes the only genuinely funny moment in the movie. See the quote below.
Quote: “May I kiss you again?” “No you may not!” “May I escort you inside?” “…yes, you may.”
Silly Moment: Captain Harris dressed as a ballerina.