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Assignment: 'Police Academy' Week

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by Matt Singer
May 9, 2012 6:56 PM
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"Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol."

I love pointlessly exhaustive examinations of movies no one cares about. Back in my days at IFC, I spent a whole week writing about "Planet of the Apes" three years before "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" and another week writing about the "Airport" series an as-yet-undetermined number of years before the series reboot starring Peter Facinelli in the Dean Martin role (just you wait, it's coming). Therefore I heartily endorse The A.V. Club's ongoing "Police Academy Week," timed to the release of "Academy" star Steve Guttenberg's memoir, "The Guttenberg Bible."

The series' crown jewel so far is a wonderful piece called "Don't Move, Dirtbag: Year By Year With the 'Police Academy' Movies," in which Noel Murray goes through all eight installments in the "Police Academy" saga -- yes there are two more "Police Academy" movies than "Superman" movies -- outlining their recurring themes, and delineating the subtle variations in Hooks' "Don't move, dirtbag!" jokes. The best parts are the helpful reminders of the film's standout moments, so you can distinguish, say, "Citizens on Patrol" from "City Under Siege." These, for example, are the notable elements of "Police Academy 2: Their First Assignment:"

"This is the one where Mahoney goes undercover with Zed’s gang and gets wired up with a Mr. Microphone, which picks up and broadcasts radio signals in the middle of the operation. It’s also the one where Tackleberry loses his virginity with Kirkland, after they strip off their respective arsenals."

Ah, a classic.

I was fortunate enough to get to moderate a Q&A with Guttenberg at the 92YTribeca earlier this year, and as research, I rewatched the original "Police Academy" for the first time in decades. Maybe because I'd only really ever seen it on basic cable, I had no idea the movie was so vulgar, with a fair amount of nudity and cursing and two different oral sex jokes. The series devolved into cartoon shenanigans long before it actually became a cartoon in the late 1980s, but its origins were something a bit edgier. And though the films themselves became far bigger jokes than any of the gags onscreen, a series that endured for a decade and played hundreds or thousands of times on television must have had a bigger influence on my generation than people assume. I mean just look at all the guys walking around these days with "One in the Oven" t-shirts.  

Okay, maybe not.

Read more of Noel Murray's "Don't Move, Dirtbag: Year By Year With the 'Police Academy' Movies."

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