At 25: “Police Academy 5: Assignment: Miami Beach”


March 18, 2013 by billysparrow


Police Academy 5: Assignment: Miami Beach

Released: March 18, 1988

Starring: George Gaynes, Rene Auberjonois, G.W. Bailey, Leslie Easterbrook, David Graf, Janet Jones, Marion Ramsey, Bubba Smith, Tab Thacker, Michael Winslow

Ah, the fifth installment. A daunting task for the keepers of the “Police Academy” flame. For not only was the face of the franchise, Mr. Steve Guttenberg, not leading the charge as Carey Mahoney this time around, but the most endearing twosome of the second, third, and fourth installments, Sweetchuck (Tim Kazurinsky) and Zed (Bobcat Goldthwait, whom I just met, thankyouverymuch), were also not on board. Oh, the horror! What a trying moment for all the “Police Academy” devotees! Was there any way the remaining ragtag bunch of officer could recapture the magic in Miami Beach?

What? I was about to answer that question you assumed was rhetorical. It’s rude to interrupt people. OK, nevermind. What was that you said now? “What magic?” “Those movies were never funny, so why would they start now”? “Even when I was 11 I thought those movies were dumb”? Well, excuse me, Siskel and/or Ebert! Sorry the “Police Academy” movies weren’t in black and white or had subtitles. You jerk.

Anyway, as I was saying, times were tough for Commandant Lassard and the crew when “Police Academy 5: Assignment: Miami Beach” hit the streets on that fateful day in mid-March. Surely, there were many who thought that with so many key characters gone, maybe a fourth sequel wasn’t particularly necessary.

What? Even one sequel wasn’t necessary? OK, that’s it. I’m gonna have to insist you shut up and let me do this. Just keep quiet and pay attention. Maybe you’ll learn something about the movie I place third in the “Police Academy” oeuvre.

Before we go any further, let’s give props to that trailer, for it has not one but two completely ridiculous turns of phrase. The first, and my favorite of the two, is “This time, instead of making arrests, they’re gonna take one.” Brilliant! I hope whoever thought of that one was handsomely rewarded. And then there’s what, I guess, serves as the movie tagline: “It’s the best in fun and guns under the sun.” They most assuredly don’t write ’em like that anymore.

Anyway, as I mentioned earlier, I don’t think “PA5:A:MB” is as bad as what I assume everybody expected it to be (“Yes, and I expected them all to be bad because they’re all so colossally stupid and devoid of wit”…that’s my impression of you, and you’re wearing a tweed jacket and smoking a pipe when you say it). The Guttenberg replacement, Matt McCoy, is indeed terrible. The one new character brought over from the far superior “Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol,” Thomas “House” Conklin (the late Tab Thacker), barely seems to be conscious in most of the movie. And the music in the movie is so horrifically annoying that I think it might have formed my early opinion that I never, under any circumstances, want to go to Miami (and it is particularly galling after the musical thrill ride that was “PA4: CoP”). If I am to believe this movie, there is a nearly incessant ping of a steel drum in the Miami air (you are even greeted at the airport by two steel drums–in the terminal!), and, I was told as an 11-year-old, the nights are full of limboing and accompanying mind-numbing songs, as seen here, amid the usual stellar interactions between Proctor (Lance Kinsey, who really should have received some sort of Broad Comedy Actor of the Decade Award) and Harris (G.W. Bailey):

But, excruciating music aside, there are gems in the film, perhaps the most sparkling being Rene Auberjonois as Tommy, who brings all of the twitches and non-subtlety (and I mean that in a good way, particularly in a “Police Academy” movie) from his time as Clayton Endicott III in “Benson” (one of my favorite TV shows as a kid). Using his theater background and an ability to project to the back of the room, he is easily the second-most entertaining “Police Academy” villain, trailing only Zed in “Police Academy 2: Their First Assignment,” who, realistically, could never be surpassed. Sadly, none of my favorite scenes with him are on YouTube, but I enjoy watching this seven seconds in German.

And, hey, there is also the appearance of, at the time, the future Mrs. Gretzky, Janet Jones, following in the footsteps of Kim Cattrall (the original) and Sharon Stone (“PA4:CoP”) as the blond-haired object of Mahoney/fake Mahoney’s desires. She’s the best-looking of the bunch (the obsession with her legs in her first two scenes, justified as it may be, is a little creepy, but, hey, it’s the 80s!), though her Hollywood success was not quite as large as the other two. In fact, this might have been the peak (either this or “American Anthem”).

And what discussion of a “Police Academy” movie would be complete without taking a moment to reflect on the sound-effects skills of Michael Winslow? Lucky for you, a kind YouTube user has taken the time to compile all of his best moments in “PA5:A:MB” into one video. See, there are other people like me! Maybe I’m not the crazy one. Maybe it’s you! OK, probably not.

But when one thinks of “PA5:A:MB” (which is often I reckon), thoughts turn not to Michael Winslow’s mouth or Janet Jones’s legs or Rene Auberjonois’s mustache. No, all thoughts turn to G.W. Bailey’s chest and the four-letter word written upon it after sunbathing. It is an all-time classic moment in “Police Academy” history (I simply do not have the time to list them all here; please see me personally for further discussion), so let’s sit back and let it wash over us (try to block out the steel-drum-via-synthesizer music…you won’t be able to, but try anyway).

Classic, no? That was rhetorical. And I told you to be quiet, didn’t I?

In watching the “making of” featurette on the “PA5:A:MB” DVD (signed by Michael Winslow), I was taken aback by this quote from the movie’s director, Alan Myerson, regarding the technical aspects of filming:

It was as ambitious a production as virtually any movie that came out in this period of time, short of a James Bond movie, which had a far larger budget.

OK, even I have to roll my eyes at that one. But I still like the movie–not as much as I did when I was 11 (think how truly sad it would be if I had concluded this by saying, “I find this film way funnier now that I’m 36!”), a time when plot inconsistencies whizzed by me faster than a bullet from Tackleberry’s gun and jokes repeated from movie to movie were like a warm, comfortable blanket (I feel that this film’s inability to include a scene with a Blue Oyster outpost in Miami is troubling at best). This was the last of the “Police Academy” movies I liked (I saw the sixth in the theater and was bummed out about how bad it was, and I refuse to watch the seventh because I sense it will be more awful than the sixth), and, as such, perhaps I cling to it as some sort of marker of the end of my carefree pre-teen years. And I’m OK with that. And owning a DVD of it. And watching it when it pops up on TV. It’s just how it is, naysayers be damned.

You can feel free to start mocking again now. It’s OK. I can take it.



One thought on “At 25: “Police Academy 5: Assignment: Miami Beach”

  1. […] an ardent devotee of the “Police Academy” franchise. I have dazzled you with a careful summation of “Police Academy 5: Assignment: Miami Beach.” I have skillfully dissected the […]

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