Review for Police Academy 3: Back in Training
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The city has two police academies. The city only has the budget for one, so one of them has to close. The best way to decide is through a contest. The next intake of cadets will be evaluated during their training, and the most successful group will determine which institution vanishes, that run by Commandant Lassard, or the one run by Commandant Mauser (the antagonist from Police Academy 2). As we know, Mauser plays dirty, so Lassard will need help to keep his academy open. He calls on his brightest graduates, Mahoney, Tackleberry, Hightower, Jones and the others. But this year’s recruits may be the worst group yet.
The film gets a 1.78:1 widescreen 1080p transfer, with audio in DTS-HD MA 1.0 Mono English along with Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono French, German, Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese with subtitles in these languages and Danish, Norwegian, Finnish, and Swedish. The dialogue is clear, the music and action comes across well, although there is a bit of hiss through the film, more noticeable in the quieter moments. There’s more screaming than quiet, what with the Zed and Sweetchuck show taking centre stage. The image is clear with plenty of oversaturated colour, has been scrubbed with a DNR scourer, has its moments of occasional softness and is not so great with detail. There’s even the odd moment of shimmer.
The disc boots to a static menu. The Behind the Scenes: All Washed Up: Floating Memories featurette lasts 8:15 SD, and focuses on the stunts in the third film. You also get the Theatrical Trailer in SD.
This is where the Police Academy franchise turned away from my interests. I guess some focus groups had realised at this point that the juvenile R-Rated comedy antics of Mahoney et al were drawing the wrong, young demographic. Missing the point that it was the boobies, and the swearing and the naughtiness that were the actual appeal, they reworked the series for that demographic, turning what was Porky’s-lite into a family friendly franchise. That it worked for another five films and a TV series shows that the focus groups were right, and I was wrong, but the fact of the matter is that I didn’t enjoy Police Academy as much going forward.
Still, the juvenile staples are there, if a little toned down. Mauser’s laid-back bigotry still rears its ugly head, the Blue Oyster bar makes an appearance, there’s plenty of casual sexism and objectification; all the things that made the first two Police Academy films funny are drip-fed in just enough to raise a smirk in the third film.
The story is just enough to justify a remake of the original, with a new class of cadets receiving instruction at the Academy, but with the heroes of the original now serving as instructors, there’s no us-versus-them dimension, no bucking of authority, and it is doubly clear in this third film, that Mauser is no replacement for Captain Harris as an antagonist. There’s also no through-line to the story, no sense of development in terms of character or arc. The film plays like a best-of clips compilation of Police Academy, as it jumps from one comedy vignette to another, or maybe a Police Academy sketch show.
Your attention will no doubt remain with the original cast, as the new cast members are really quite ephemeral, apart from the poor man’s Jackie Chan, Nogata, and the pairing of Sweetchuck and Zed, returning from the second film, this time to enlist. For me, their screaming antics are the worst thing to happen to the franchise. Other recurring characters include Mrs Fackler from the first film, and Tackleberry’ brother-in-law and his pugilistic father, and once again they are wafer thin characters that you really pay no attention to.
Police Academy 3 is moderately humorous. It occasionally put a smile on my face, and I might even have chuckled, but it’s not a patch on the original.