By Craig Joseph
I really tried to like this movie.
I knew that my dislike would be chalked up to film snobbery, but that argument doesn’t really hold water, given some of the barely B-level horror films I claim as my friends. Others might assume that I was lying in wait, hoping to exact revenge for Tim’s lackluster impression of the Oscar-winning Network, but retaliation isn’t really my bag (not publically and consciously anyway). And a small minority of you may have suspected that I – per usual – would be unkind to any sequel, but come on; I can rattle off several sequels that were better than the originals: The Godfather, Part 2, The Empire Strikes Back, Babe: Pig in the City. Enough said.
In the end, Police Academy 3 dug its own grave.
First off, any film that gives its special “and starring” credit to Bobcat Goldthwait is doomed from the start. The movie suffers from the “Steve Urkel” syndrome, allowing a barely amusing, but highly annoying character (who – in this case – is not even understandable) to hijack large amounts of screen time while leaving several other characters undeveloped. The filmmakers were already trying to do too much, bringing back the original gang AND trying to introduce us to a new class of trainees. I wasn’t looking for Chekovian inner complexity but, for example, time that could have been used to develop Fackler and his wife’s conflicts at the academy was given over to one more scene of Zed tormenting Sweetchuck (and me).
Second, I assumed that maybe – just maybe – Tim was recalling the series as a whole, remembering this installment glowingly based on the strength of its predecessors. So I watched the first two as well (see, I tried – I really did!). They are marginally better movies, but the franchise is tired on its third run around the track. Jones still makes cool noises. Check. A few obligatory Callahan boob jokes. Check. And the little Black one. Ha ha. Yes. She’s still loud and commanding even though she normally has a squeaky little voice. But we still don’t remember her name. In the end, Back in Training really has nothing new to offer.
Third, still trying hard not to be predictable, I assumed that maybe the movie had nostalgic value for Tim, so I pulled out Airplane, a similar-genred favorite from my youth. “Perhaps,” I thought, “this isn’t as funny as I remember it – and then I can forgive Tim for having the cops on his list.” The problem is: Airplane IS funny. Still. It’s got slapstick, screwball, a Lassard-type doctor, cameos by several stars and a great ensemble cast. BUT, it’s also a trenchant satire of disaster films, full of brilliant wordplay and actually has a few dramatic stakes. At no point in time did I ever believe – or care – that Lassard’s academy was going to be closed. And the academy doesn’t have the Beaver’s mom speaking jive.
So, yeah, I don’t like this movie. And applaud Tim’s choice not to watch it again.