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‘Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol’ (PG-13)

By Richard Harrington
Washington Post Staff Writer
April 07, 1987

Just when you think American film comedy has hit the bottom of the barrel, it makes a supreme effort and keeps sinking.

Hence "Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol."

This one has a certain symmetry. The oddballs and dunces who populated the prototype for a series that has so far brought in $380 million worldwide are back in action -- this time training a new bunch of civilian oddballs and dunces to combat crime in their community. That would be a noble undertaking if Hollywood were the community and films like this were the crime, but the public is a notoriously liberal judge, and producer Paul Maslansky, director Jim Drake, writer Gene Quintano and their inept cast of dozens will undoubtedly be cut loose to perpetrate "Police Academy 5: Investors Laughing All the Way to the Bank."

"4" isn't even a film; it's more like a long trailer, a collection of scenes without sense. It has everything you expect and nothing more: flat and uninspired aural and visual jokes about bodily functions (people's and pigeons'), leather bars, porta-johns, superglue, fat and/or stupid people -- all interspersed with "training," jailbreaks and an airborne chase finale.

Who's to blame for this incomprehensible mess of slapshtick and punch lines that never land? Besides Quintano, who could never have gotten a line into "Laugh-In," the major offenders are Steve Guttenberg -- whose reprise of Mahoney, the instigator of bad ideas, makes him seem even smarmier than Chevy Chase -- and G.W. Bailey as uptight Capt. Harris, the victim of most of the policemen's brutality.

Other repeat offenders include big Bubba Smith (as Moses Hightower), Michael Winslow (as Larvelle Jones, the walking sound effect), David Graf (as the trigger-happy Tackleberry), George Gaynes (as the incompetent chief), Tim Kazurinsky (as the whiningly incompetent Sweetchuck), Marion Ramsey (as the whiningly incompetent Hooks), Lance Kinsey (as the whiningly incompetent Proctor) and that omnipresent manic expressive, Bob Goldthwait (as Zed).

The only new faces to even register are Billie Bird as Mrs. Feldman, the gung-ho senior citizen on patrol, and Sharon Stone as the recruit who falls for Goldthwait.

With each "Police Academy" film, Guttenberg undoes whatever good his reputation gains from films like "Cocoon" and "Short Circuit." You just have to hope he's working for points, not credits.

"Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol" is rated PG-13 and contains some explicit language and three laughs, at most.

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