24 Frames

Movies: Past, present and future

« Previous Post | 24 Frames Home | Next Post »

Is a new 'Police Academy' a good idea?

February 24, 2011 |  4:17 pm

Even as moviedom marvels at/mocks the idea of “The Bodyguard” coming back, a new blockbuster is returning from the '90s (and '80s) grave. A new installment of “Police Academy,” the comedy franchise about misfit police recruits that made us think Steve Guttenberg was the man (for about three seconds), is making progress on its path to the screen.

David Diamond and David Weissman, the writing team behind the Nicolas Cage drama “The Family Man,” are set to turn in to the studio their draft of a "Police Academy" reboot, said one person who was briefed on the project but not authorized to talk about  it publicly. If the script passes muster with studio New Line, that should set the casting process into motion.

Paul Maslansky, who produced the original, was originally on board to direct, but the person briefed on the project said the studio is looking for a new director.

As for that cast, some of the original actors are expected to return -- Guttenberg in particular has been talking it up in interviews -- and looking at the resumes of some of the other actors, we can't imagine scheduling will be a problem.

Still, Maslansky, who produced all the films during the original go-round, said last year that the new "PA" will contain "a new class. We hope to discover new talent and season it with great comedians." (He also described the new "Police Academy," the eighth in the franchise, as “anything but another movie with a numeral next to it.”)

One wrinkle, though, lies with New Line: The Warner Bros. label confirmed this week that it's consolidating from eight movies per year to just four, which could slow down the project. Then again, "Police Academy" represents one of the more lucrative franchises in the company's catalog, so it may be spared. A studio spokeswoman declined to comment.

Beginning in 1984, the goofy exploits of Mahoney, Hightower Tackleberry and the rest were a spring comedy staple. A new "Police Academy" film arrived, like clockwork, every March or April for six consecutive years,  although by the fourth installment ("Citizens on Patrol") many fans had turned away and the box-office numbers plummeted.

The franchise about uniformed underdogs feels much older than “The Bodyguard,” though the seventh and final installment (“Mission to Moscow”; you can admit it’s in your DVD collection) actually came out in 1994, two years after the Costner-fest.

By the time that final "Police Academy" movie came out, the series had devolved into such camp it’s hard to imagine anyone feeling too protective of the original brand. Then again, given the dive it took at the end, some will no doubt also wonder if another trip to the Blue Oyster Bar is really necessary.

--Steven Zeitchik


 Photo: A shot from "Police Academy 2: Their First Assignment." Credit: New Line