Saturday, March 21, 2015

Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol

Directed by Jim Drake and written by Gene Quintano, Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol is the fourth film of the Police Academy series in which the academy’s commandant decides to create a program where ordinary citizens help aid the city’s under worked and overstaffed police force. The film plays into the group of misfit cops who team up with some oddball citizens as an old nemesis returns to the academy to ensure that the program fails. With returning cast members Steve Guttenberg, Michael Winslow, Bubba Smith, David Graf, Marion Ramsey, Leslie Easterbrook, Bobcat Goldthwait, Tim Kazurinsky, Brian Tochi, Lance Kinsey, George R. Robertson, Scott Thomson, George Gaynes, and G.W. Bailey reprising their roles from past films. The film also stars Sharon Stone, David Spade, Brian Backer, Tab Thacker, Derek McGrath, Corrine Bohrer, and Billie Bird. Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol is a funny though very uneven film from Jim Drake.

The film revolves around a program where ordinary citizens help out their local police force to handle law and order as the police are coping with not being able to help their citizens. With the group of misfits police officers training a group of oddball citizens ranging from an old lady, a couple of skateboarders, a public defender, a photographer, and an enormous man, Commandant Eric Lassard (George Gaynes) hopes that the program will be success. While he has to attend a police conference overseas, he unfortunately has the program be watched by his graduates’ most-despised nemesis in Captain Thaddeus Harris (G.W. Bailey) who not only hopes for the program to fail but also usurp Lassard so he can become the academy’s new Commandant.

The film’s screenplay doesn’t just explore these group of cops helping out ordinary people but also cope with Captain Harris’ attempt to get the program shut down despite its support from the state governor and city’s mayor. It’s a classic snob vs. slob scenario of sorts where Captain Harris and his new insubordinate in Lt. Proctor (Lance Kinsey) try to make things tough for not just the cadets but also Lassard’s police trainers led by Sgt. Mahoney (Steve Guttenberg) who has a history with Harris as he tries to ensure the program’s success with his fellow cops. The script does have some subplots such as the cops trying to keep the troublemakers in skateboarders Arnie (Brian Backer) and Kyle (David Spade) as well as Tommy “House” Conklin (Tab Thacker) in check while Tackleberry (David Graf) befriends the elderly Mrs. Lois Feldman (Billie Bird) who shares Tackleberry’s love of violence. Another subplot involves Zed (Bobcat Goldthwait) falling for the photographer Laura (Corrine Boher) as he deals with the ongoing criticism of Captain Harris.

Jim Drake’s direction is all over the place in the fact that he does try to cram a lot of things into the film. While he does maintain elements of previous films in some of the gags that involves Tackleberry’s in-laws as well as a scene at the Blue Oyster Bar. Some of it involves a skateboarding sequence and a romantic scene between Zed and Laura as Drake wanted to put in a lot into the film. The result makes it very messy where it is a largely a cop-based comedy, it also wants to be a romantic film, a skateboarding movie, a martial arts film, and all sorts of things. It does get confusing even though Drake’s intention was to give something for everyone as he does keep the compositions simple with its close-ups and medium shots along with some inspired camera angles for the skateboarding sequences. Even the film’s climax where the police and the people from the program fend off against a group of escaped criminals involving planes and balloons as it does maintain a sense of thrill and hilarity. Overall, Drake creates an enjoyable yet flawed film about cops working with ordinary people in bringing law and order to their city.

Cinematographer Robert Saad does nice work with the cinematography as it‘s very straightforward for many of the daytime scenes set in Toronto along with some nighttime lighting schemes for the skateboarding sequences including a scene at the mall. Editor David Rawlins does excellent work with the editing with the cutting of the skateboard scenes as well as maintaining something straightforward for the comedy and action scenes. Production designer Trevor Williams, with set decorator Steve Shewchuk and art director Rhiley Fuller, do superb work with the look of the academy and its facilities as well as the mall and other scenes set in Toronto.

Costume designer Aleida MacDonald does terrific work with the costumes as it‘s mostly straightforward as well as the punk-biker look that Zed sports when he‘s off-duty. Sound editor Ron Clark does wonderful work with the sound as it plays into the sound of gunfire and other sound effects. The film’s music by Robert Folk is amazing for its mixture of bombastic orchestral music and some jazz pieces including some re-used themes from previous films while music supervisor David Chackler creates a fine music soundtrack that largely features an eclectic mix of music from hip-hop, pop, and rock including contributions from Chico Debarge and Brian Wilson.

The casting by Pamela Basker and Fern Champion is amazing as it features notable small roles from Brian Backer and David Spade (in his film debut) in their respective roles as the skateboard kids Artie and Kyle, Derek McGrath as the public defender Butterworth, Corrine Bohrer as the photographer Laura that Zed falls for, Scott Thomson as the bossy but incompetent cop Sgt. Copeland, Arthur Batanides and Jackie Joseph as Tackleberry’s in-laws, Andrew Paris as Tackleberry’s brother-in-law Bud, Colleen Camp as Tackleberry’s wife, Brian Tochi as Lassard’s academy representative Nogata at the conference, and Randall “Tex” Cobb as the main villain who would lead the film’s climax. Also making appearances in the film in the skateboarding sequences include such famed skateboarders Tony Hawk (who is also Spade’s skateboarder double), Steve Caballero, Chris Miller, Tommy Guerrero, Lance Mountain, and Mike McGill.

Other notable small roles include Tab Thacker as the enormous House whom Hightower knew as a kid, Sharon Stone in a terrific role as the journalist Claire Mattson whom Mahoney flirts with, and Billie Bird in a phenomenal scene-stealing performance as the elderly Mrs. Feldman who loves to kick ass and fire guns. Performances from Marion Ramsey as Sgt. Hooks, Michael Winslow as Sgt. Jones, Leslie Easterbrook as Lt. Callahan, David Graf as Sgt. Tackleberry, Bubba Smith as Sgt. Hightower, Tim Kazurinsky as Officer Sweetchuck, George R. Robertson as Commissioner Hurst, and Lance Kinsey as the bumbling Lt. Proctor are all great as they each bring their own brand of humor into their performances.

Bobcat Goldthwait is hilarious as Officer Zed as the reformed gang member who helps in training the citizens while dealing Captain Harris’ criticism. G.W. Bailey is brilliant as Captain Harris as the man who once trained his trainees as he hopes to bring Lassard’s program down. George Gaynes is superb as Commandant Eric Lassard as the man who created the program as he hopes to create some unity between the police and its citizens. Finally, there’s Steve Guttenberg in a fantastic performance as Sgt. Mahoney as Guttenberg maintains a sense of charm and wit to his role as the film marks his final appearance in the series.

Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol is a stellar film from Jim Drake. While it is one of the weakest entries in the film series, it does manage to bring in some big laughs and some entertaining moments where misfit cops work with oddball citizens to get the job done. In the end, Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol is a wonderful film Jim Drake.

Police Academy Films: Police Academy - Police Academy 2: Their First Assignment - Police Academy 3: Back in Training - Police Academy 5: Assignment Miami Beach - Police Academy 6: City Under Siege - Police Academy: Mission to Moscow

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