Review for Police Academy 2: Their First Assignment
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The 16th Precinct is the worst in the city, an aging and unmotivated police force is unable to cope with the level of gang crime in the area, and even the public treat them with contempt. When Chief Hurst gives Captain Pete Lassard just 30 days to turn the situation around, he justifiably demands reinforcements, but the Chief isn’t too accommodating. In the end, Lassard calls his brother Eric, the commandant of the Police Academy, and gets 6 of the Academy’s finest graduates. Although with Mahoney, Tackleberry, Hooks, Hightower, Fackler and Jones, you have to redefine the word ‘finest’. To make matters worse, Lassard’s right hand man, Lieutenant Mauser is gunning for his job, and he has no scruples.
Just like the first film Police Academy 2 gets a 1.78:1 widescreen 1080p transfer on this disc, and you have the choice between DTS-HD MA 1.0 mono English, with DD 1.0 mono French, German, Spanish, and Portuguese with subtitles in these language plus Danish, Finnish, Norwegian, and Swedish. The audio is fine, with no glitches or distortion. The image is clear and sharp, stable with a nice level of detail, although I suspect there might be a smidge of DNR. Once again, the experience is similar to that given by the first film.
The disc boots to a static menu, and you’ll find a short featurette in Accidental Heroes: The Best of Police Academy (6:30), with the cast and crew talking about the sequel, as well the Theatrical Trailer (1:27), both in 480i.
Police Academy 2: Their First Assignment is the last time I thought a Police Academy film was actually good. Given that there are 5 more to go, that doesn’t bode well for the rest of the boxset, as I work my way down from watchable though mediocre, to absolute cack. Still, let’s not borrow trouble, and instead laud what is good about the second film. It’s almost as funny as the original, has the same irreverent and un-PC sense of humour, and does enough that is different from the original to make it feel like a continuation, rather than a remake.
The new graduates get their first real taste of police work as they go on duty at the 16th Precinct under Captain Lassard, a more competent and focussed policeman than his airy-headed older brother. Alas they also have office politics to deal with as the overly ambitious and detestable Lieutenant Mauser and his sycophantic adjutant Proctor are in charge of their assignments. As they want Lassard to fail so they can be promoted, the new recruits aren’t used to their best abilities. The same kind of antagonism develops between Mauser and Mahoney that we previously saw with Harris.
This is one of the weak points in the story, as Mauser is obviously a proxy for Harris, but the character is weaker in his complete venal ambition. Harris was a martinet at the best of times, but his heart was in the right place, he wanted to train good cops, and was riled by the quality of the new recruits. Mauser just wants to be the Captain, and is willing to let Zed’s gang run riot to get that promotion. Proctor’s idiocy, while funny, also weakens the story. In the original film, while the comedy was broad, at least the police were portrayed as mostly competent.
The new characters in the film are disappointing for the most part, although Tackleberry’s romance with Kirkland is the narrative high point of the film. But with Mahoney’s new partner, Vinny Schtulman, the comedy aims for a gross-out low that does the film a disservice. This film also introduces my two least favourite characters in the franchise, the timid shopkeeper Sweetchuck, and the annoying gang leader Zed. They work in the context of this film, as crime victim and main villain, but they’re not the most charismatic of characters. I certainly didn’t think at the time that we would see them again. How wrong I was!
In one way the film stays true to the ethos of the first one, offering a whole lot of silliness from the boys (and girls) in blue, before getting just a little serious for the finale, but the shine has begun to tarnish already. The comedy is grosser, the new characters are weaker, and it’s only because it retains that 15 rated sense of humour, and the recurring characters do the heavy lifting that I still enjoy Police Academy 2, and think that it’s still some good. From this point on, Police Academy becomes a ‘family friendly’ franchise and that does it more harm.