Police Academy (1984) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

This lowbrow film spawned more bad movies than the entire Carradine gene pool.

Four of the sequels are rated in the 100 worst films of all time by IMDb.

19 Police Academy 7: Mission to Moscow (1994) 2.2 (4174 votes)
40 Police Academy 6: City Under Siege (1989) 2.7 (3379 votes)
45 Police Academy 5: Assignment: Miami Beach (1988) 2.8 (3956 votes)
83 Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol (1987) 3.4 (4380 votes)

The other two sequels are not rated that much higher. Police Academy 2: Their First Assignment (1985) is rated 4.3, and Police Academy 3: Back in Training (1986) is rated 3.7.

The original, however, is not such a bad movie. It gets some respect with a 5.7 at IMDb (very impressive for a lowbrow comedy), and it was a mammoth hit.

I suppose you remembered or guessed that it was a hit. After all, unpopular, unprofitable movies do not live to generate six sequels. (And reportedly another on the way.)

But maybe you don't remember just how big a hit it was. Although it was modestly hoping only to carve a profitable niche with the student male audience, it succeeded far beyond the creators' wildest dreams. Look at the top grossing movies for 1984:


Lots of nudity (breasts and buns) from incidental female background characters, but absolutely none from the named players.



Jun. 08


$132.720 million


Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom

May 23


$109.000 million


Beverly Hills Cop

Dec. 05


$108.000 million



Jun. 08


$79.500 million


The Karate Kid

May 25


$43.120 million


Star Trek III: The Search for Spock

Jun. 01


$39.000 million


Police Academy

Mar. 16


$38.500 million


Romancing the Stone

Mar. 30


$36.000 million



Mar. 09


$34.103 million



Feb. 17


$34.000 million


Purple Rain

Jul. 06


$31.700 million


The Natural

May 11


$25.000 million


Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan

Mar. 23


$23.200 million



Mar. 23


$23.034 million



Aug. 17


$22.500 million

DVD info from Amazon

  • very good widescreen anamorphic transfer

  • a retrospective documentary on the making of the film, with many interviews of cast and crew

  • full length commentary by four actors, the producer and director

It was number seven for the year, despite a March release! It basically went head to head with Greystoke and Amadeus, and kicked their asses. In fact, if you look at the movies below Police Academy on that chart, you'll see many very good and enduringly popular films.

The basic premise of the film is basically the Revenge of the Nerds in uniform. Some unpromising future cops end up at the police academy, and eventually are pressed into service, saving the city and even the life of their martinet instructor. The film has a few simple-minded laughs, some raunchy jokes, some sharply defined crazy characters, and a cute-enough triumph for the underdogs.

It was even "good" enough to merit a 20th Anniversary Special Edition DVD.

The Critics Vote ...

  • Rotten Tomatoes summary. 63% positive. That's not a typo - 63% positive!!! Even the highbrow NY Times wrote "POLICE ACADEMY' is a rude, crude, noisy, sometimes disarmingly funny, liberated-sexist low comedy."

The People Vote ...

  • It was the seventh highest grossing film of 1984 (see above).
The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by genre fans, while C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie although genre addicts find it watchable). D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-.

Based on this description, this is a C. It lacks any connection to reality, which keeps it at the level of sketch comedy and prevents it from creating real enough characters to become a classic lowbrow comedy like Porky's, but it's not such a bad watch.

Return to the Movie House home page