At 25: “Police Academy 6: City Under Siege”

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March 10, 2014 by billysparrow

MPW-14991

Police Academy 6: City Under Siege

Released: March 10, 1989

Starring: Bubba Smith, Michael Winslow, David Graf, Marion Ramsay, Leslie Easterbrook, George Gaynes, G.W. Bailey, Lance Kinsey, Matt McCoy, Bruce Mahler

There comes a time in every young man’s life when he realizes the things he loved as a young boy are just not funny anymore. And so it was as I sat in a movie theater in Staten Island (I think it was the Island Twin on Richmond Ave., but I’m not sure why I think that) watching “Police Academy 6: City Under Siege” on a March day in 1989.

As is well known among the seven (please allow me this generous overestimate) people who have been closely following my blogging career, I am 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 soundtrack to “Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol.” And, believe me, I could talk and/or write for far longer than you would care to listen/read about the proper ranking of greatness of the “Police Academy” movies.

Relax. I won’t do that here. For I have come her not to praise the “Police Academy” series; I have come here to bury it. Or at least talk about how “Police Academy 6” did that job.

After watching a movie for this “At 25” series, I like to look for my favorite scene on YouTube, hoping that I can find it so I can share my joy with you. Well, I was able to save a good deal of time after watching “Police Academy 6,” because I don’t think I have a favorite scene. I’m not sure I laughed once (and the only reason I’m couching it by saying “I’m not sure” is out of respect for the franchise). All the running gags (Hooks [Marion Ramsay] yells, Tackleberry [David Graf] likes guns, Callahan [Leslie Easterbrook] has large breasts) have just ceased to be even a little amusing at this point, and they seem to be brought up out of obligation more than comedy.

I guess I might have smiled at this scene, partly at the wonders of Michael Winslow and partly because Jones (Winslow) and Nick Lassard (Matt McCoy, who proves he is no Guttenberg) have decided the best thing they can do in a city-wide blackout is to calm a disgruntled comedy-club crowd with some stand-up.

Wait, did you want me to go into the plot of the movie. Why? What are we going to gain from that? OK, fine. The Wilson Heights Gang–a live-action version of “Who Framed Roger Rabbit”‘s Toon Patrol (one of whom is played by Gerrit Graham who at least got to be in a superior sequel a few years later when he appeared in “My Girl 2”)–is committing crimes all around the city under the direction of a mastermind who’s getting leaked info from within the police department. And Commandant Lassard’s (George Gaynes) crew works with Harris (G.W. Bailey) and Proctor (Lance Kinsey) to figure that all out. There. Happy now?

If you’re hoping for at least a little suspense regarding who is the mastermind, you will find yourself in much the same quandary as the 12-year-old me who bought his ticket hoping for some laughs. It’s pretty clear who the mastermind is, but, hey, I won’t spoil it for you.

Oh, never mind. I will. It’s the mayor, stupid. If that stops you from seeing the movie, you’re welcome.

Speaking of stupid (another possible title for the next book), the mayor’s inability to find the right word is, like the other running gags in the movie (see also the calamities that follow in the wake of Fackler [Bruce Mahler], who returns to the fold after taking two movies off), not at all funny. And the actor playing the mayor (Kenneth Mars) somehow manages to be too broad in a “Police Academy” movie, a feat previously thought to be impossible.

You know what, I just realized something. I lied before when I said I didn’t laugh at all at the movie. I did laugh once. But what else am I supposed to do when Bubba Smith raps?

That’s Grandmaster Melle Mel there, or as he is billed on the single released from the film, “Grandmaster Mele Mel.” Perhaps he thought knocking off an “l” would assure that he couldn’t be connected to the movie by future generations. Or maybe the care that went into the movie’s script carried over to the person in charge of creating the label for the record.

And Mele [sic] Mel is not the only music icon to appear in this gem. Yes, that is original MTV VJs Alan Hunter and Mark Goodman (credited as Mark Jay Goodman) in the very next scene, playing a small role in the requisite Harris’s-life-is-in-danger scene (big coup getting Hunter and Goodman now that they were no longer in the public eye). And even though you can usually count on Proctor to come through, even he can’t fight through what he’s given in this one. This, I guess, features his best line in the movie: “Don’t worry about the pants! Save yourself, sir!” (there’s another scene where he’s driving a bus that isn’t awful).

There could have been even one more appearance by a musical icon in a movie, as this YouTube video shows Motley Crue’s Vince Neil prepping for a scene in the movie that eventually wound up not making the final product. And I cannot imagine how bad that must’ve turned out if it was cut from this movie. I actually feel bad for Vince Neil that he had to at one point in his life field a phone call telling him that he was cut out of “Police Academy 6.”

The movie builds (disintegrates?) to its inevitable conclusion, as Hightower knocks out the biggest gang member, Jones wins his requisite kung fu battle, and Tackleberry bests the other villain in a completely ridiculous way that you neither need to see to believe nor need to really hear about at all. And that all leads to the big reveal of the mastermind in a completely unironic Scooby-Doo ending where the mayor is revealed to be wearing prosthetic make-up intended to make him look like the police commissioner. Why?  Come on. Isn’t that enough with the questions already?

I am somewhat proud of the 12-year-old me for recognizing that “Police Academy 6” wasn’t funny and that maybe the franchise was ready to be put to bed. One more installment–“Police Academy: Mission to Moscow”–was made and, I guess, released theatrically, bringing in, according to IMDB, a whopping $126,247. I would like to say I took a stand and refused to buy a ticket to see it, but I honestly don’t even recall it being in movie theaters. It looks like it opened the weekend I was moving into my college dorm, so I suppose I was preoccupied.

I do still refuse to see it, though. I prefer to keep my memories of the “Police Academy” movies I loved untarnished by what I’m guessing is a movie even worse, if this is at all possible, than “Police Academy 6: City Under Siege.” So fear not, Mahoney, Zed, Sweetchuck and even those who soldiered through the sixth and seventh installments for the paycheck. You are still loved.

If the long-rumored eighth one comes out and you’re in it, though, I cannot make any promises.

 

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