Messing with Memories: ‘Police Academy’

When Marge joined the police academy, I thought it was going to be fun and exciting. Like that movie ‘Spaceballs.’ Instead, it was just sad and depressing, like that movie ‘Police Academy.‘ –Homer Simpson

Hightower, Tacklebery and That Voice Guy are on assignment yet again. For the first time. Actually, it is doubtful that Bubba and the gang will have little more than glorified cameos in the latest, which is next on the slate for a do-over.

Police Academy has been to Miami, Moscow and Under Seige (strangely, though, they did not meet up with Steven Segal), and a television series, both live-action and animated.

Certainly, you recall the immortal television show, right?

Don’t remember the animated show? Here ya ago:

Producer Paul Mazlansky is heading back to the basic training with the franchise, to be produced by New Line Pictures, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The first of the seemingly endless series was released in March of 1984 and made almost its 20 times its budget of $4 million.  A year later (almost to the date) the sequel, “Their First Assignment” introduced Bobcat Goldthwait to the cast, and grossed $55 million. The laws of diminishing returns (in many senses) applied to the remainder of the series: they went “Back in Training” in 1986 with $43 million; the “Citizens on Patrol” earned $28 million the following year; the remaining cast members headed on “Assignment: Miami Beach” in 1988, taking $19 million; 1989 found a “City Under Seige” with a total of $11 million; and finally it headed on a “Mission to Moscow,” yet went nowhere in theaters (grossing $127,000).

No word yet on production dates, as casting is just beginning.

‘Ski Patrol’ with star Roger Rose (by Eric Filipkowski)

ski_patrol

By: Eric Filipkowski

Pre-viewing thoughts: Ah, the 1980’s. Where the bad guys were bad and the good guys always had a snappy comeback.

I’ve never met a ski instructor in my entire life, but thanks to Ski Patrol,I hate all those rich jerks… with their cocky, entitled, attitudes, their frosted blonde hair and their fuscia, day-glo sweaters! You think you’re better than me?!

I’m honestly not sure what to expect from this movie. When I was a kid, we had an 8mm camcorder and my brother and I figured out that we could tape movies we rented at the video store using the rca inputs. This was one of those movies, so realistically, I’ve probably seen this movie 20-30 times, though not once in the last 15 years.

I mean, it’s just one example in a long line of “Animal House on <x>” movies that were so popular in the 80’s; this one being “Animal House on Skis“, of course.

It’s got to be cheesy, right?

I came into this thinking I was gonna blow this thing to pieces with my Hollywood Hipster irony bazooka, but the more I dwell on it, the more I start to think that I actually like this movie.

In a non-ironic way!

I mean, here are some highlights that come to mind:

  • Some rich white guys frame the lone Mexican ski patroller (George Lopez, in one of his first roles) for shoplifting in a hardware store. They tell the owner that they think “the ethnic fellow” is pulling a “Frito Bandito number”.
  • There’s a scene with an obese woman of ambiguous sexual orientation taking a dump with her pants around her ankles when the bathroom door gets blown off.
  • The ski patrollers roofie a tweener (a guy who’s really short but not quite a midget) and when he’s passed out, they stick him in a slightly scaled down, exact replica of his bedroom, to trick him into thinking he’s grown into a giant over night. Then, when his head bursts out of a Santa’s Village house they’ve stuck him in, they all laugh and take pictures.

I mean, that’s funny, right?

Sure, there’s some awful parts, too. Most of these revolve around the black guy from Punky Brewster and his magic powered, yet super cheap-looking karaoke machine that we’re supposed to believe has enough power to have an outdoor concert to, complete with sing-along, ski jumping exhibition, lip-syncing and dancing. But not everybody hates that stuff as much as I do.

If that’s not enough, it’s got Martin Mull, Ray Walston and the guy who created Freaks and Geekswho’s not Judd Apatow!

At the very least, I think this experience will have shown me that I should have an open mind.

Post-viewing impressions:

Well, my sneaking suspicion was right! I love “Ski Patrol“!

Sure, the middle drags a bit, but the only real fault with this movie is timing.

It is a quintessential 1980’s movie that just happened to come out right at the end of the 1980’s. I really believe that’s why this thing isn’t a bigger hit. You can’t even buy it on DVD, unless you get a DVD copy of a VHS tape, complete with tracking issues, like I did. (Thanks, Rob!)

Plus, I think my mom threw out all my old 8mm tapes!

Everything I thought was going to be funny was, plus there was a whole bunch of stuff I forgot.

The farting dog. The runaway wiener shack. The small tree that whacks unsuspecting skiers in the nuts.

And how could I not remember the stereotypical Japanese tourists taking rapid-fire pictures with their cameras! That could have been the next “Dong, where is my automobile?” if not for the fact that this movie was released at a time where people wanted things like moral ambiguity, tough decisions and realistic, emotional reactions to actual problems. What’s funny about that? Well, just watch something like “Reality Bites” and I’ll tell you what: NOTHING.

Instead, you have a movie rife with cliches, casual racism and slapstick comedy. All the stuff you find now in a hit show like Family Guy.

So, while you might find this movie dated, I say it’s actually ahead of it’s time and that’s why I give it my famouse, patented thing that I just made up: 7 comedy snowmobiles out of 8.

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Download the podcast here: ‘Ski Patrol’ with Roger Rose
Or stay right here and have a listen:

___________________________________________________________

ski_patrol01Our featured guest: Roger Rose
As the star of Ski Patrol, Roger had many memories to share about the making of this film, but Roger also dips into his long career in show business, including his past roles in front of and behind the camera. Though you may have missed his role here or in Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives, chances are pretty good you have heard his voicework on television. In both animated shows (in which he has reached god-like  status is geek culture for a reoccurring role in The Tick) or in countless commericals and trailers for both film and tv, Roger has been omnipresent. His love for animation and comics has spilled over into producing Comic Book: The Movie:

 _________________________________________________________________

ericOur featured contributor: Eric Filipkowski
Actor, writer, comic, cartoonist and blogger extraordinaire, Eric can be found at his home at Hollywood Phony as well as various other web and television endeavors. We are extremely excited to have Eric reflect on his cinematic memories here at Natsukashi.
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‘Bachelor Party

Bachelor Party (1984)

Director: Neal Israel
Writers: Neal and Bob Israel (no pun intended… well, maybe by their parents)
Starring:        Tom Hanks – Rick Gassko
                      
Tawney Kitaen – Debbie Thompson
                     
Adrian Zmed – Jay O’Neil
                     
Robert Prescott – Cole Whittier

Tagline: Shocking, Shameless, Sinful, Wicked. And the party hasn’t even started.

By: Gurn Blanston

The original appeal of this movie to me in 1984 would be obvious to anyone who knew me then, I wanted to be one of these guys. I wanted to go to this party. I wanted access to those Hollywood style hookers. The working girls in my hometown all looked like Ernest Borgnine in drag, so I’m told. I wouldn’t know that for a fact or anything cause I never went to a hooker and paid for her services, only to have her jump out of the car at the first light and make off with money it took weeks to earn……but I digress.

I saw this film with friends at the local dollar theater, which seems to be a pattern at this stage of my life, and we all left hoping to recreate this party at home the next time someone’s parents were out of town. It never happened, Dad, so don’t worry.

Tom Hanks plays the lovable doofus Rick, who is engaged to a rich girl named Debbie, played by Tawney Kitaen, who some of you may remember doing splits on the hood of a Camaro in the band Whitesnake’s video, I miss the 80’s. This is the pre-cocaine-abusing, husband-assaulting train wreck Tawney that we know and love; in this film, she is still hot.

Rick’s friends, namely Jay played by T.J. Hooker star Adrian Zmed, decide to throw him The bachelor party to end all parties at the local 5-star hotel. Debbie’s well-to-do parents and her uptight jock ex-boyfriend Cole, played to the tee by Robert Prescott, are not pleased with the match and decide that the bachelor party is a good time to break the two up.

First Cole re-routes two call girls intended for the bachelor party to the house of Debbie’s parents, where the woman are throwing her a shower. When they arrive and see a room full of well dressed woman they nod knowingly and one say’s, “so it’s that kind of party” and they begin to put on a girl-on-girl sex show for the mortified upper-class matrons. Good fun.

I only knew Tom Hanks before this movie as the tall guy from the “Bosom Buddies” TV series, but this flick made me a fan. From what I remember, he was the funniest thing in it, and could still come off as sincere when the scene called for it. This is not a great piece of cinematic art by any means, but it sure was fun to party vicariously with this group of misfits for a couple of hours.

Is Gurn still ready to Party after all these years? You can dowload the podcast here to find out or:

Essay: ‘Moving Violations’

Moving Violations
Rated
: PG-13
Starring: John Murray as Dana Cannon
               Jennifer Tilly as Amy Hopkins
               James Keach as Deputy Halik
               Wendie Jo Sperber as Joan Pudillo
               Dedee Pfeiffer as Cissy

Directed by: Neal Isreal

Written by: Pat Proft and Neal Isreal

Tagline: “A crash course in traffic school from the creators of ‘Police Academy.’
By Rob Rector
Perhaps it was one of nepotisms finest cinematic moments (yes, this includes the little-seen 1993 direct-to-video brethern-of-movie-star classic Death Ring, whose cover featured the names SWAYZE, NORRIS and McQUEEN in large all caps — only to be preceded by the 7-point revealing the names Don, Mike and Chad, respectively). The film ‘Moving Violations’ featured no fewer than four sibs to the stars. John Murray, little brother of Bill, Jennifer Tilly, lil’ sis of Meg, James Keach, young bro of Stacy and Dedee Pfeiffer, the younger sister of Michelle, were all accounted for in the cast of this quickly produced little slice of quintessential 80s-ness that followed the prototypical format of ragtag losers (traffic offenders) taking on strict authoritarians (traffic cops) in a film that was created by a team that was no stranger to the format, as they produced both ‘Bachelor Party’ and ‘Police Academy.’
Pre-screening memories: To ease the transition, they even gave John the occupation of a groundskeeper, perhaps one of Murray’s most iconic roles ( OK, so technically, he was a landscaper, but isn’t that just splitting hairs?).
Memories of this film were based solely on Murray’s character, Dana Cannon. I remember often pilfering witty rejoinders from the character and trying to emulate his easygoing, sarcastic demeanor in the face of authority (funny how that rarely seems as charming in real life…). You see, it was much easier to lift lines from lesser-known films and pass them off as your own, than, say something more universally known as “Ghostbusters,” where the response would most likely be, “Ha ha, very funny, Dr. Venkman.” But I imagined myself looking suave with a cock-eyed grin when getting yelled at and having the perfect retort to diffuse a situation and win the adoration of many as a result. Only now does it occur to me that there are very few historical instances of wise-cracking landscapers who’ve reached national prominence.
There really was little else to recall of the film. The only other supporting characters who had any discernable impact on me since those multiple screenings more than two decades ago were a fellow traffic offender who saw one too many horror films (my hero!) and that chubby gal from ‘Bosom Buddies’ who held the key to Buffy and Hildegard’s true identity — Wendie Jo Sperber.
So, I am once again ready to take a possible wrong turn down Memory Lane and revisit this little speed bump of a film that had remained part of my consciousness, Moving Violations.’

 

 

Post-Screening: I honestly wonder if at some point the producers just threw up their arms and said, “You know what? F***k it, let’s just produce a PG-13 Animal House.” I have witnessed many a variation of the iconic film, but have yet to see whole chunks lifted so cavalierly as they had in Moving Violations (and this is from a connoisseur of crap comedy who has viewed such era films as Screwballs, King Frat, Mad Magazine’s Up the Academy, The Hollywood Knights, and the short-lived Animal House spinoff sitcom Delta House).
Shall we put the evidence on Lady Justice’s scales, shall we?

  1. A Dean Wormer-esque authority figure (played by James Keach as a traffic cop) who despises a lowly group of misfits, led by a slovenly good-time Belushi-like guy (played by Murray)
  2. A ” When the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor” rallying cry from said good-time guy.
  3. A incident involving the bedding of a girl who admits she’s underage pre-coitus (though no tissues were used to stuff the bra).
  4. A sexually aggressive female authority figure, though this time its Sally Kellerman as a judge who stands in for Dean Wormer’s cucumber-comparing wife.
  5. A finale that features a downtown parade that erupts into calamity and confusion.
  6. A float being commandeered by our heroes and driven at high rates of speed.
  7. A beauty queen atop of said float in said parade who dutifully stays put and waves to the crowds.
  8. A “where are they now” blurb at the end credits on the fate of our protagonist landscaper.

I’m sure a more trained eye could pick up more, but at this point I felt I had spent way to much time in my CSI-like analysis on it.

Some other items I did glean from the viewing include:

  • A blink-and-you-missed-it cameo from one Don Cheadle as a fast food employee. (His only line was “Can I take your order?” repeated a handful of times.)
  • The film boasted the name of Clara Peller in the opening credits, better known as the “Where’s the Beef?” lady from the 80s Wendy’s commercials. (Are you really sure that’s a hook you want to hang your film on? That’s like saying, “Special appearance by The Noid,” or “Featuring the comedic stylings of the “Dude you got a Dell” guy.)
  • James Keach is actually the more charismatic lead in the film as the psychotic motorcycle cop whose slow seething turns into violent rage. Though by the film’s conclusion he’s reduced to parading around in a dog collar and leather undies — best not to ask.
  • The horror-film afficionado was actually more amusing than I remembered, especially when he was stoked to see one of those gore-soaked “instructional films” titled “Blood Runs Red on the Highway.” I remember being shown such a PSA (similar to this one) in grade school in which a log carrier accidentally unloads its cargo at a high rate of speed through the windshield of an unsuspecting reckless driver. Yes, in grade school. Is it any wonder I turned out worshipping the works of gory effects masters such as Rob Bottin, Rick Baker and Stan Winston?

New Memories: I admit to still getting a few chuckles from this film made on the fly (it was written in a month and shot and released within six). When a girl says, “My ride’s here, it’s my sister…” and a nun pulls up in a Chrystler is classic stuff and what’s not funny about a lowly puppeteer being abused by the same kiddie audience he’s trying to entertain?). And this scene is quite cute:

 

It cannot be forgiven, though, that they cast the go-to guy for stiff-shirt comedy, Mr. Fred Willard, and fail to use him for his true potential. But what truly amazes me is that I ever found John Murray’s performance to be notable for his wit or charm. And I am thankful that I did not follow my admiration of his role to more extreme lengths, as I am pretty sure I’d make a lousy landscaper.

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