By Tim Barlow
When I was a kid, my Grandpa would call the house, and when he got on the phone with me, he would pretend he didn’t know my name. He would say, “Why hello there, George, how are you?”. My name is not George. And I would say inbetween uncontrolled giggles, “Oh hello to you as well, Sam, I’m great!”. His name was Ed.
During the summers growing up, my younger sister and I, would go to my Grandparents house to stay for a week. They lived about 6hrs from us, and so we would meet my Grandparents half way, and then they would drive us back to their old, run-down ranch house on Gunn Rd., the same house where my Dad and Aunt grew up. I would spend that week exploring their huge backyard filled with wild blackberry bushes and old rusted out cars and tall grasses, perfect for staging elaborate battles between the army men they kept around for my visits. I loved that big backyard; stray cats, wild chives, even when it gave me my first bee sting, it was nothing a cold piece of steak to reduce the swelling couldn’t fix, and I’d be back out back again soon. But after dinner, when it was too dark to play, there would be a nightly movie, accompanied by ice cream, and the pick would always be a slapstick comedy – Three Stooges, Laurel and Hardy, and on more than a few occasions, one of the Police Academy movies. I loved watching those movies. But after a few more years the week-long visits stopped.
For one Christmas my Grandparents got me mine own VHS copy of Police Academy 3: Back in Training. It was rated PG, and I remember there being a little controversy around it not being G. But I watched my movie anyways. A lot.
I still laugh at stupid slapstick humor. I still laugh a lot, when people get hurt, not badly, just a sting. I play soccer in an adult league on Saturday mornings, and last week, one of the other guys took a shot to the nuts, I was keeled over dying of laughter while the other (more adult) players tended to their fallen comrade. My Dad is the same way. Watching the Home Alone movies during the holidays is a spectacle to behold. Don’t even get us started on Jackass, we cry, we get the hiccups, our sides hurt – love of physical comedy, love of slapstick, it’s as a part of my heredity as high blood pressure.
For this week’s movie, I actually broke the rules and decided not to watch it. I know, I know, that’s kind of the whole point, but I just couldn’t do it. I justified the decision at first by arguing that all the plot points are seared into my brain so there was no need to rewatch, which is true, but the truer truth is that deep, nope not even deep, mid-way down, I know that Police Academy 3 is about as terrible a movie as I could have picked. I’m absolutely sure that Craig will eviscerate it during his review, partly because he told me so, but also because that’s probably what it deserves. But I need this one to stay whole. I need Mahoney to always be charming, and Jones’ voice sound effects to always be incredible, for Bubba Smith to still be a Goliath, and Callahan to still be a babe. I need the scene where Commandant Mowser gets his eyebrows ripped off to still be hilarious. Or where Jones uses his hand as a periscope. Or when Cadet Sweetchuck discovers his roommate is Bobcat Goldthwait. All of them.
I don’t want to remember that house and time spent on Gunn Rd with my Grandparents as anything other than magical. I don’t want my mind to try to to figure out all the possible reasons for why it was run-down or why I stopped going – I don’t want those memories to be anything other than golden, just like those of the great cinematic triumph, Police Academy 3: Back in Training.