Patrick McGinlay's Internet Tendency

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April 1, 2005

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"Yes, 'MA'AM'!"
-- Sergeant Debbie Callahan

"So tell me, you and the wife do it doggie-style, or what?"
-- Cadet George Martin

Time again to return to my thesis-style dissection of the Police Academy movies, and timely, also, given that the next Police Academy movie, number XIII, was announced as In Production eight months ago and we've heard nothing since.

Now, I ended Part One in the middle of my discussion of the first Police Academy movie. I suspect this is bad literary form, but who wants to read three hundred and forty-seven pages about the Police Academy oeuvre in one go? Not you, I suspect.

Putting that to the back of our minds, let's meet the rest of the new recruits, each of whom have been assigned one character trait:

Eugene "Tack" Tackleberry (David Graf, sadly R.I.P.) is Mahoney's new roommate. Previously a dangerously overzealous nightwatchman, this uniquely American specimen (obsessed with guns, mentality of a four-year-old) is at his best when helping members of the public with menial tasks, as when an old lady asks him to help her cat down from a tree (which he does, by shooting at it) or when an irate woman asks him to stop a man smoking in the non-smoking section (which he does, by shooting at him) or when a frustrated mother asks him to force her son to get out of their car and go to school (which he does, by smashing the car window and lobbing in a gas grenade). Mahoney is at first frightened of this walking armoury, but soon finds that he is not to be feared, since, unlike the other Academy cadets, he never fires his weapons by accident.

Laverne Hooks' (Marion Ramsey) character trait is her very small, squeaky voice. In reality, Ramsey is a fine singer (as we hear in Police Academy 3), and, incidentally, wore a fat suit for her role in this film.

Douglas Fackler (Bruce Mahler) is "the clumsy guy". We meet him as he attempts to leave for his first day at the Academy. His wife, Mrs Fackler (Debralee Scott), does not like the idea, knowing, as we soon will, that he is highly accident-prone. He ably demonstrates this by obliviously hitting Mrs Fackler in the gut with his suitcase, then thumping her in the head with the car door. Mahler is the source of much of the violent slapstick in the Academy series, having appeared in four of the seven movies. He is otherwise best known for his recurring role as the irritating Rabbi on Seinfeld.

Moses Hightower (Bubba Smith) is an enormous African-American man who does not take kindly to those who would denigrate his race. As in many films essaying characterisations of incredibly large individuals, the huge (6' 7") Hightower is nothing less than a gentle giant with a heart of gold, albeit one who loves nothing better than to throw things long distances, especially in the service of social justice. Incidentally, Bubba Smith (real name Charles Aaron Smith) was a professional NFL football player in the '60s and '70s for, among other teams, the Baltimore Colts and the Houston Oilers, and is as well known in the United States for this and for his Miller Lite beer commercials ("Tastes great, less filling") as for his role as Moses Hightower.

Hightower provides much of the heart in this and other Police Academy films. Early on, he appears mostly as a huge, menacing presence, but this is turned on its head when Mahoney learns that his previous occupation was as a florist: "You know... flowers and shit." Then he wakes Mahoney up in the small hours of the morning because the police driving test is that day and he needs Mahoney's help to learn how to drive. The two of them cruise the streets in a stolen car with its front seats ripped out, hitting other cars and fleeing from the (actual) police, and yet we still feel Hightower's joy at having learned how to correctly use the clutch.

"How Many Of Those Film Were You In, Anyway?" Chart

Continue on to Part Three.


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