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  Police Academy 3: Back in Training Use The Force
Year: 1986
Director: Jerry Paris
Stars: Steve Guttenberg, Bubba Smith, David Graf, Michael Winslow, Marion Ramsey, Leslie Easterbrook, Art Metrano, Tim Kazurinsky, Bobcat Goldthwait, George Gaynes, Shawn Weatherly, Scott Thomson, Brant von Hoffman, Bruce Mahler, Ed Nelson, Lance Kinsey
Genre: ComedyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: An underground car park in the dead of night. A meeting between four men in secret. What could they be plotting? It's at the instigation of Commandant Mauser (Art Metrano), who has gotten wind of a plan concerning the two Police Academies in the city: one is for the chop, and he does not wish it to be the one he runs, so has recruited two insurgents to mess up his rival's chances at success. Commandant Lassard (George Gaynes) runs that, and to all intents and purposes his recruits are far less effective than Mauser's, but the schemer refuses to take any chances. When he is not buttering up the authorities, he is planning Lassard's academy's ultimate downfall...

If you're taking notes, this was the third Police Academy, which was the one where we see the more established characters train the newer ones, and it ends with the jet ski chase. Got that? Many is the film fan who expresses surprise this even reached a part two, but it went further than that, and became something of a regular in cinemas, but mostly video rental stores, throughout the second half of the nineteen-eighties. It's fashionable to put them down, especially when their low points were really very low indeed, but there comes a time to admit that most instalments had their moments, and if that does not redeem the franchise, it helps you understand it.

Understand, that is, why they kept making them: mostly because they were popular with kids of the eighties who had seen the first instalment, which was a movie for grown-ups, let's not forget, and the cool by association of seeing such a silly movie that featured adult situations was the reason that audience kept coming back for more. By this time, the cast, aside from those who had bailed, were comfortable enough in their roles to be happy with a regular paycheque, and if they were not stretched talent-wise by what amounted to a series of loosely-linked sketches on a Police Academy theme, they were at least professional enough to give the material a decent shake.

In fact, Back in Training doesn't begin too poorly, with quite a few honest, if absurd laughs, it's only as it draws on that you twig the script frontloaded all its best stuff and hoped that early goodwill can last enough to make it to the end of what was a pretty skimpy running time. You could observe they didn't want to wear out their welcome, or you could until you recall there were four more movies to come, and a TV series, and a cartoon series, so that excuse didn't fly: they were not honest enough to admit they were too reliant on recycling gags, call them running jokes but they also came across as if nobody had any fresh ideas for how to replace them with situations as good as, or better, than what had gone before. Surprisingly, Steve Guttenberg, who was having a very good 1986 with Three Men and a Baby, was back for a fourth entry the following year.

Surprisingly because he was the Mickey Mouse who amusing events happened around but was not necessarily amusing in himself. The best roles went to the one-note characters, Bubba Smith as the super-strong Hightower (here introduced in drag), David Graf as the gun nut Tackleberry, Marion Ramsey as the squeaky-voiced but deceptively forceful Hooks, and so on. The most blatant example of that was Bobcat Goldthwait as Zed, the breakout star of Police Academy 2: Their First Assigment, a crazed villain in that, yet evidently rehabilitated for part 3 where the camera simply relied on a closeup of his confused features and made him do his funny noise. Apparently there was a stronger cut, meaning it originally had blue language, but the producers realised they were cutting out the younger audience who were their fanbase; it would have been interesting to see what it was previously like. So, not bad, but the energy waned too quickly, and those jet skis were just a bunch of stunt performers flying around.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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