Thursday, January 20, 2011

#97 - Police Academy 7: Mission to Moscow

In 11 years from 1984 to 1994, there were seven Police Academy movies, and Mission to Moscow was the final installment. And while everyone agrees that the series started to go down the tank right after the first one (IMDb ratings: PA1-6.3; PA2-4.9; PA3-4.4; PA4-4.0; PA5-3.5; PA6-3.3; PA7-2.6) it is quite impressive that in this seventh film, there are still five original characters/cast members from the original movie. I would imagine they were short on cash, or that was the only script that was on their coffee table. There are no other reasons to keep going with this series.

Before watching #7, I decided to watch the original which I had not seen in quite some time. (I watched it without Christie... sorry.) While it wasn't overly clever, it was written well enough to have a few laughs and be enjoyable. I was actually quite surprised at how well it stood up with time as I got to know Mahoney all over again. Good times. And while Mahoney was last seen in the 4th movie, it was sad not to see Hightower, who had previously been in all installments of this series. But, like I said, it was impressive to see that five characters still remained. Now, see if you can remember these names: Larvelle Jones, Eugene Tackleberry, Debbie Callahan, Thaddeus Harris, and Eric Lassard.

The show opens with Pamela Guest as a news anchor. The way she delivered her lines, and her semi cross-eyed look made me laugh. I actually enjoyed that entire opening scene with her and Stuart Nisbet. It was silly, but funny all the same. Although, I was waiting for the news director played by David St.James to yell "Cut to commercial, cut to commercial" when the news anchors got out of control. He didn't and it made me a little sad. Why? I don't know, just thought it would have been that funny cliché moment to end the scene.

So, with that opening laugh, and the knowledge that Hellboy and Saruman were in the movie, I figured, how bad can this really be? Well, it wasn't good, but it wasn't anything where either Chris or I wanted to jump out of a window to make it stop. The writing was bad, the editing was bad, the jokes were forced, the new characters were uninteresting (although, every time the absolutely gorgeous Katrina, played by Claire Forlani, was on screen, the movie had my full attention), the story made little sense, and the most annoying was the bad audio dubbing/sound effects which was so obvious at times it hurt my brain.

Speaking of audio, they really forced the issue when it came to having Sgt. Larvelle Jones make sound effects. I mean, making sounds to unlock a safe? Really? And having a Three Stooges trio that only whistled and made stupid noises instead of having dialog was not as funny as I presume they thought it was when they wrote them in the script.

The stupidity of this film was eye rolling really. The main villain played by Ron Perlman (who turned in a subpar performance) knows that there is a team of American cops that are after him, but throughout the film he has no trouble inviting people with American accents into his entourage. Oh, and apparently, in Russia, they don't speak any Russian, they just speak English with Russian accents. That includes random young boys on the street. So, it then begs to wonder why they needed a translator (Forlani's character Katrina) at all, and who was apparently doing a great job. Ah, right, a love interest was needed. A love interest I didn't care about even though the eye candy was nice.

There was an almost gut busting funny moment in the movie, although, I'm sure it wasn't scripted as funny. There is an elaborate chase scene near the end of the film when Capt. Debbie Callahan gets kidnapped. Newcomer Cadet Kyle Connors, played by Charlie Schlatter, jumps on the roof of the getaway car and the rest of the crew jump into a police van and a chase ensues. When inside the van, all windows have these yellow curtains which made it painfully obvious they didn't want to spend money on a background. Even though those 'out the window green screens' look fake, they are much better than yellow curtains. Then, you have Connors. Don't go get a stunt man, no, just tie up a dummy dressed like a police officer on the roof of the car. Seeing that mannequin being thrown about was hilarious. The whole chase scene was so funny that we actually rewound the movie to watch this very funny action sequence. Actually, we watched it again because Chris hadn't noticed the dummy flopping about. Those special effects were too good for her eyes to notice.

In all, it was a sad attempt to continue something that should have ended with the first movie. I guess it took a US box office draw of just $126,247 for the studio to realize that you can't get blood from a stone. Or a corpse for that matter.

IMDb Rating: 2.6
JF's Rating: 4
Chris' Rating: 4

Turn off point: Neither Chris nor I had a turn off point for this movie. Chris said it was like Hababam sinifi askerde, but that we knew what they were saying. I think it was a little more slapstick than that, and while most of it failed, it was still a movie I had no problem sitting through and watching to the end. Had it been on TV, I probably would have switched the channel at some point, but that being said, if there had been nothing else good on to watch, I may have gone back to it as well.

So, from Moscow to L.A. we'll see you next time with the review of Alien From L.A.

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