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Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol
1987 - PG - 88 Mins.
Director: Paul Maslansky
Starring: Steve Guttenberg, Michael Winslow, David Graf, Bubba Smith, Sharon Stone, Bobcat Goldthwait, David Spade, Tony Hawk
Review by: John Ulmer
Just when you thought it was safe to flock back to the multiplexes, "Police Academy 4" swaggers along like a drunken friend who thinks his jokes are funny, but yet he is the only one laughing at them, and he's too arrogant, ignorant and obnoxious to realize that no one else is.

The eighties were one of my favorite decades for films, simply because I enjoy some of the cheesy, low-budget comedies that were shipped out by the hundreds. Lesser years were a bit more conservative, but the eighties produced hoards of stupid little funny movies that were let upon the public and instantly forgotten. But along with the funny ones there were the terrible ones. "Police Academy 4" is one of the terrible ones. For that matter, all of the films were horrible ones.

The bumbling cops are back. This time they are training a new pack of cadets who have signed on for the C.O.P. (Citizens on Patrol) program, looked over by the naive Commandant Lassard (George Gaynes, once again impersonating Leslie Nielsen to little effect). Carey Mahoney (Steve Guttenberg) is still around with his stupid little grin, as well as Moses Hightower (Bubba Smith), Larvell Jones (Michael Winslow), Eugene Tackleberry (David Graf), and Zed (Bobcat Goldthwait). A disguised Richard Harris - er, Captain Harris (G.W. Bailey) is determined to make the new C.O.P. program any costs. So it is up to Mahoney and Company to save the day...once again.

I've covered all my problems with the "Police Academy" series in my previous review. I don't see what there is to criticize here. As a film, "Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol" is simply horrendous, the type of movie that should never have been made (or any of the sequels, for that matter. Nor the first film, for all it's worth). This is just another entry into the bumbling series about bumbling cops. The first film was basically a repeat of the underdog formula seen so effectively and more humorously in "Stripes" and "Revenge of the Nerds." Now "Police Academy 2" had more potential for the first, because it was more original than the first -- it was actually about cops in their daily routine of combing the streets for trouble. But the film's director, TV veteran Jerry Paris, simply used dumb physical and sight gags that were mixed with horrible sound editing (imagine a man slipping on a banana with a big SSSSSSLIP! and BOING! sound as he falls). This is horrible physical comedy.

The sequels past that entry just never should have been. What ground can five sequels (count 'em, five) accomplish that the others have already not? Absolutely nothing. This is a huge cash-in franchise. The only problem is, I don't see what there was to cash in on -- was anybody interested in "Police Academy" at all after the second one? By the low ratings the films have achieved over the years, apparently -- and rightly -- not.

Perhaps the only thing that "Police Academy 4" has accomplished, or can be remotely respected for, is setting up both Tony Hawk and David Spade's careers. Yes, that is correct -- Hawk and Spade are in this film. They play two skateboarders in the beginning of the film. It's amazing to think that some low-grade agent out there was watching this sorry little film -- probably to see if the bad hype was all it was worked up to be -- saw them, and also saw stars. This movie, in one way or another, pushed them forward into the showbiz spotlight -- Hawk with skateboarding (he was slightly famous among fellow skateboarders at the time, having won some competitions), Spade with acting. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is one bizarre fact of life.

The big question may be this: Is "Police Academy 4" worth sitting through just to see how bad it is? No way. It's not even unintentionally funny in a sort of "Hercules in New York" kinda way. This is just a bad movie, no matter which way you slice and dice it. It's almost painful to sit through. Scenes just appear and disappear and jokes just fling about at us, one after another, with no comic effect whatsoever.

Whatever respect the outrageously unfunny Steve Guttenberg may have achieved with such outings as "Diner" and/or "Cocoon" are simply wasted in these films. Even Steve Guttenberg didn't return for the fifth film in this franchise. And so I suppose this fact proves that the talentless hack has an ounce of sense in him afterall.

One of the film's tagline is, "On land, on sea, or in the air, no place is safe from them!" And you know what? I wonder if that tagline was meant to be humorous.

"Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol" is rated PG for "Please God" make it stop.
Movie Guru Rating
Unwatchable.  One of the worst of the year.  Skip it.
  0.5 out of 5 stars

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