Aug 31, 2023

The King Of Cheesy 80's Comedy

Police Academy
Mahoning Drive-In Theater - Lehighton, PA
Sunsets at the Mahoning are pretty amazing.  I've yet to take a photo that does it justice, and this one is no exception.

This is our 12th Tunnel Vision Tuesday of the season, and we'll be in attendance for at least four more of them.  This year's screenings have been a pretty eclectic mix, especially with the inclusion of classic comedy films that don't often show up in the weekend events.

This week's screening was a movie that kicked off a franchise that has become synonymous with cheesy comedy film from the 80's; the 1984 classic: Police Academy.

When I was a kid in the 80's, this was one of the movies that I always wanted to rent that my grandfather wouldn't allow it.  I should make a list of them one of these days, or maybe pick up some cheap VHS copies and put them on a shelf as a display of the movies that my 9 year old self would ask for every weekend, but that I didn't get to see until I was old enough to rent them on my own.

It's not that my grandfather had any objection to the Police Academy series.  He would let me choose Police Academy 2 through 6 without an argument, but he would not under any circumstances let me pick a Rated R movie.  If I asked him why, the answer was always the same: Z.  You know... it's the letter after Y in the alphabet.  Get it?  Grandpa was a kung fu master of both stubbornness and deflection, but it was always done with kindness.  What kind of argument could a kid even muster up when he asks why he can't do something and the only answer he gets is "Z"?  That, of course, was the point of his answer.  It was his nice way of saying "Hey kid... this isn't up for debate.  It's a hard no.  Pick something else before we go home with nothing".

I figured out pretty quickly what his reasoning was when I saw this movie for the first time when I was in middle school.  Police Academy would set off a thousand alarm bells today, mostly from the over-sensitive left, who seem to have picked up the censorship ball that was fumbled by the Jerry Falwell and the Bible Beaters at some point over the past twenty years.  However, for its time, it was considered to be pretty tame.  My grandfather's ban on Rated R movies when I was a kid was basically just a way to keep me away from sex, boobs, and the f-word, all of which feature to a very mild degree in the first Police Academy film.

This is a movie, and a movie series, that I'll always have a soft spot in my heart for.  They're silly, dumb, fun comedy flicks, and they don't pretend to be anything other than that.  You're not meant to take them seriously, or analyze their meaning and search for social commentary, or write long critiques about the acting performances and the cinematography.  They're just a bit of fun, and I'm always going to appreciate something like that.  I'm glad to have had the opportunity to see it at the drive-in.