26
Jul 04

FT Top 100 Films 55: POLICE ACADEMY

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FT Top 100 Films
55: POLICE ACADEMY

(Deep breath, here goes, even I’m having trouble here. I mean it is no Citizens On Patrol.) Is the message at the heart of Police Academy
a) That the police will become ineffective and a laughing stock if they relax entrance restrictions
b) That anyone pure of heart and good can be effective police officers by dint of hard work?

The film does not want you to think about the difficult question in its premise. Is Commandant Lessard’s Academy so useless at teaching because previously its recruits were already the best of the best? This is hard to believe when you consider the police. In which case frankly these new recruits with disabilities ranging from being psychotic to having a quiet voice (!) seem to do a lot better than they need to. Either way as a commentary on law and order or even social policy it seems to shirk its serious responsibilities for a lot of sexist, racist and homophobic jokes.

Perhaps the reason Police Academy spawn so many sequels is due to the unfinished nature of this debate. Certainly Police Academy 2: Their First Assignment takes our new recruits out of the safe environs of the Academy to see if they really are ready to deal out justice. They are, as a rule, not. But yet again that film fluffs the question of whether sheer numbers of unsupervised raw recruits can ever replace well trained experienced law enforcement officers. Instead of a detailed riposte it is happier to give us a lo of sexist, racist and homophobic jokes.

The US never really got to see the Carry On films, which is exactly what the Police Academy films are. Stuffed with lesser comedians that Jacques, Williams and James, and without the wit to transplant its ensemble to alternate situations to at least give some variety, the Police Academy films are the poor mans Carry On Constable. And when you consider the rich man who has plumped for Carry On Constable is probably only just living above the breadline, then this poor man has almost definitely starved by now. Which is probably a lucky escape.

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