The 5th Installment Of 'Police Academy,' Minus Guttenberg

Posted: March 22, 1988

You can have being worked over with a nightstick or 10 hours of third- degree interrogation. For sheer police brutality, nothing comes close to sitting through Police Academy 5.

In fact, it's so dreadful that I would recommend seeing it only with an attorney present. Except that no one - not even a lawyer - should be subjected to such cruel and unusual punishment. Anyone who has made it past 11 - in years or IQ - will know that you don't go to a Police Academy movie unprepared. My own personal method for whiling away the time - and here I divulge a trade secret - is to clock how long it takes for the first joke about flatulence.

Police Academy 5 actually held out for 59 minutes, thus setting a new record for self-control in the series. Other than this remarkable feat, there is one other matter that sets it aside from the dreary lineup of its predecessors. Apart from taste, wit and even minimal coherence, the other conspicuous absentee in the fifth film is Steve Guttenberg as Officer Mahoney.

Guttenberg has, of course, gone on to better things (it would be hard to imagine his going to anything worse). His success in Three Men and a Baby carried with it the priceless bonus of early retirement from the Police Academy films. Somewhere he is laughing.

For the hapless cast left behind, his departure is no laughing matter. Nor is Police Academy 5. The bit players take over and the movie lurches from one painfully predictable joke to the next. Each character has but a single attribute, or in the case of the busty Officer Callahan - as Police Academy films never tire of telling us - two. Invariably, this limits the possibilities of each gag.

This outing is as witless as the others and makes the mistake of leaving the academy when Commandant Lassard is forced to retire. Any hope that the series will follow him is dashed when he goes to Miami with the usual entourage and gets mixed up with diamond thieves. The only thing worse than Police Academy 5 is the certain knowledge that somewhere in Hollywood a hack is toiling away on the script of Police Academy 6. Next time, I am taking my lawyer.

POLICE ACADEMY 5 *

Produced by Paul Maslansky; directed by Alan Myerson; written by Stephen J. Curwick; photography by Jim Pergola; music by Robert Folk; distributed by Warner Bros.

Running time: 1 hour, 35 mins.

Hightower - Bubba Smith

Commandant Lassard - George Gaynes

Lt. Harris - G. W. Bailey

Nick - Matt McCoy

Parent's guide: PG

Showing at: area theaters

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