Police Academy 3: Back in Training (1986)

policeacademy3_1986_poster
Police Academy 3: Back in Training (1986)
  • Time: 83 min
  • Genre: Comedy | Crime
  • Director: Jerry Paris
  • Cast: Steve Guttenberg, Bubba Smith, David Graf

Storyline:

The city has two police academies, one is under the eye of Commandant Lassard and the other is under Commandant Mauser. Now Mauser has learned that the State is considering closing one of the academies, and to protect himself, he approaches Blanks and Copeland and instructs them to make sure that Lassard’s cadets all foul up. Lassard on the other hand calls his “favorite graduates”, Mahoney, Hightower, Jones, Tackleberry, and Hooks, and along with their former instructor, Callahan, they try to train the cadets and hopefully save their academy.

One review

  • Normally the second sequel to a franchise is the worst of the trilogy. Occasionally there are exceptions to the rule but this is less likely to happen. The adult R-rated Police Academy (1984) comedy may have not contained the classiest of jokes but it had its moments. The characters all had their own personalities and trademarks. The slapstick was doable and many a time it was all over the place. The area that really suffered was the lack of development for every character because of it being overly packed with roles. This is what happens with ensemble casts though. The same goes for its sequel Police Academy 2: Their First Assignment (1985). The difference between that and the original was the addition of new and the omission of older characters. Without rhyme or reason, the missing characters are never mentioned. Comedic value was also recycled at times although some of it worked as well. No doubt with both being fairly popular among its fans, the third film in the series would revolve around the same kind of antics.

    In Police Academy 3: Back in Training (1986), the plot deals with returning characters from the last two films becoming the trainers to the next incoming class of cadets. Unfortunately of the two academies, only one will remain – Comdt. Lassard’s (George Gaynes) or Comdt. Mauser’s (Art Metrano). The governor (Ed Nelson) felt only one academy was needed so Lassard’s alumni want their police academy to win. The alumni to return are Mahoney (Steve Guttenberg), Hightower (Bubba Smith), Tackleberry (David Graf), Jones (Michael Winslow), Hooks (Marion Ramsey), Callahan (Leslie Easterbrook) and Fackler (Bruce Mahler). For this sequel, the script was written by Gene Quintano and surprisingly it’s slightly better. As of today Quintano is best known for writing Loaded Weapon 1 (1993) and Sudden Death (1995). What’s different about this entry as to the prior one is that the original cast is in a teaching position now. Seeing Mahoney, Hooks, Hightower, Fackler, Jones and Tackleberry at the same level as Callahan shows they have grown.

    Even some of the individuals from the first sequel have some growth. Characters like ex-criminal Zed (Bobcat Goldthwait) and Sweetchuck (Tim Kazurinsky) learn to get a long as cadets. The comedic gags are also somewhat improved since last time. Anything dealing with Comdt. Lassard, Zed, Hightower, Jones or Hooks should get plenty of laughs. Comdt. Lassard is goofier than ever and reminisces to Leslie Nielsen. Zed, although hard on the ears makes use of his fluctuating vocal chords to his advantage. Hightower continuously gets props for being a lovable bear that’s tough as nails. Hooks even gets to train some as well instead of sitting at a desk all day. And Jones, well he’s always the master of sounds. Although Mahoney is the lead character, his colleagues get a fair share too. The focus is distributed rather evenly this time, which is nice. However that doesn’t leave the writing without its problems. Some of the returning characters do not get a lot of focus. Copeland (Scott Thomson) and Blanks (Brant Van Hoffman) get shorted on this.

    Lance Kinsey as Proctor continues to report to Mauser but also doesn’t get a lot of attention. Two new cadets Kirkland (Andrew Paris) and Nogata (Brian Tochi) have their moments but don’t contribute much. Tochi would end up voicing Leonardo in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990) and its sequels. Lastly there’s a new love interest for Mahoney named Cadet Adams (Shawn Weatherly). She’s by the far leaves the least impact. This is the least of the story’s problems though. Again previous characters have vanished without a trace. What happened to Tackleberry’s girlfriend who loved guns? What happened to Mahoney’s partner who ate garbage all day? No explanations are given whatsoever. And although the slapstick is slightly funnier than before, there are still homophobic and racial jokes thrown in from time to time. The last issue clearly visible to viewers will be that there is no real antagonist. Yes Comdt. Mauser wants to off Comdt. Lassard’s academy but aside from that, random villains show up with no motive. What’s the point then?

    Jerry Paris directed again for this entry in the series. With his direction, the overall look and feel has not changed. The same could be said for Robert Saad as the director of photography. Though the cinematography has changed hands over the last couple of films, Saad’s work looks very similar. There’s plenty of lighting to see what needs to be seen. For once the final showdown also doesn’t take place in a city either. So that’s different from a view perspective. Saad would later provide camerawork for The Rainbow Boys (1973), Cannonball Fever (1989) and Sleeping Dogs Lie (1998). Robert Folk again composed music. It is weird though that he isn’t credited when he was the one who made the theme for the franchise so recognizable. It’s hard to say if the tracks are just being recycled even if a lot of it sounds the same. At this point though, hearing the flutes and drums at the beginning is all a fan would need. When the trumpets come in, everything is heroic and proud. No synths in this orchestra and that’s okay.

    By no means is it a vast improvement from the last entry but it does feel more enjoyable. It still contains continuity problems, unnecessary supporting characters and a major antagonist is barely around for this. Yet the music is still lively, the slapstick is slightly funnier and the main actors use their roles to their advantage.

    Points Earned –> 6:10

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