Captain Harris (G.W. Bailey) and his cohort/lackey Proctor (Lance Kinsey) have broken into the office of the top man at the Police Academy at three o'clock in the morning, all so they can find some dirt in the files of Commandant Lassard (George Gaynes). Harris believes he should have taken Lassard's place years ago, but could never find the leverage, therefore is highly satisfied to see the information that he should have retired some time ago and sets in motion precisely that instruction. Lassard is devastated by the news that he is considered too old to serve, but his allies at the Academy are not about to take this order lying down; besides, there's Miami to visit.
Exactly why there is Miami to visit could only be explained by the fact that it's a picturesque and photogenic place to make a movie, but you would not be troubled too much by the logic in a Police Academy entry, least of all this one, the most reviled of the series until Police Academy: Mission to Moscow happened along belatedly in the nineteen-nineties, and also one which mentions a city in its subtitle (perhaps a lesson to be learned, there). However, as ever with this franchise, it was popular enough to spawn seven instalments and a television series (and a cartoon), so you have to bear in mind, no matter what the reputation now, in the eighties it was different.
Not that Assignment Miami Beach was particularly critically lauded, but their audience was more kids than adults, perhaps some lingering afterglow of the R-rated original that served up some cachet that we were getting away with something lightly subversive by going to see them. What could loosely be described as a plot took the form of a series of skits with the regulars, though Steve Guttenberg was refusing to appear in these by this point, and Bobcat Goldthwait's Zed was a no-show as the comedian hadn't liked what the producers were doing to his character (it sounds absurd that he should be so precious, but you can admire his integrity for such silly material).
Nevertheless, the others ploughed ahead, the project taking advantage of Bailey's ability to play despicable but funny, and if the jokes he was given were not exactly hilarious, he displayed a dedication to wringing a degree of humour out of his lines and antics. Actually, he made a pretty decent double act with Kinsey, whose Proctor was such a butt of the humour that you began to feel a bit sorry for him, especially when he was terminally naïve and looked up with such misguided admiration to Harris. In some parts, it looks like the writers are taking out their frustrations on Proctor, going out of their way to cause him pain, from having him fall out of a window and grasp onto a tree to getting beaten up in martial arts training whereupon he falls straight into a large cactus (!).
The lack of a "cool" straight man for the cartoonish others did hurt the humour, as it may be odd to observe, but Guttenberg's presence was missed and you could see them trying to make up for this absence by giving the Mahoney quips to other characters, specifically the painfully obvious stand-in Nick (Matt McCoy), who was Lassard's highly capable cop nephew. Not McCoy's fault, but he was never going to be recalled fondly for this role, despite the fact they brought him back for the sixth effort. The closest we got to a storyline was Lassard accidentally grabbing a camcorder containing concealed diamonds, and gangster Rene Auberjonois (with dyed black, slicked back hair and moustche) and his henchmen trying to retrieve them, which was purely present as an excuse to have the cast take to airboats on the Everglades for the now-traditional action-packed finale. Though we were offered the curious sight of Bubba Smith wrestling with an alligator, Johnny Weissmuller-style. Overall, not as bad as they say (the Jaws joke is decent), but not great either.