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Star Trek or Police Academy?

November 30, 2010

Whiny haters blame the lens flares, but real expert types are critical of the non-plot and derivative storyline found in 2009’s Star Trek movie reboot. I have been defending this movie for almost two years, telling everyone who will listen that it was a smart, engaging exploration of the key elements of the original Trek, blended into a 21st-century sensibility, or something like that.

And then I saw Police Academy again.

I’m a sucker for these discount Walmart three-pack and four-pack DVD sets. For less than the price of a couple of rentals, I can augment my movie collection with … leftover pan-and-scanners from the back of the warehouse, packed in flimsy cardboard sleeves and labelled “widescreen” because they, uh, will play on a widescreen TV. Recently, I have acquired four-packs of Jackie Chan, Vacation, Hannibal Lecter, Bruce Willis (that one was a bad idea) and, today, the first four Police Academy movies.

The first Police Academy movie was a huge hit. I remember seeing it in the theatre when it came out, and liking it, but I also hadn’t figured out girls yet, and was also probably wearing Jordaches. And I know I saw the second one at some point, and probably the third. None of the others, and there are, I think, 29 sequels. Some of them were so bad Steve Guttenberg refused to take part.

Watching the first one tonight — shot at Lakeshore Psychiatric Hospital in Toronto, which is where my great-aunt Charlotte Ramsbottom lived out her years, and is also within walking distance of the Hurdle Hut, two things that may or may not be connected— I was struck by its similarities to J.J. Abrams’s Trek movie. Here, check this out:

Hero

  • Star Trek: James T. Kirk (Chris Pine), a young rogue, smarter than he lets on, who is gliding along through life, getting into trouble. Often shirtless, he’s glib with the ladies, confident among his fellow man and shows a remarkable talent for leadership even when he’s the low man on the totem pole. He worries that he can’t live up to the heroic legacy of his father.
  • Police Academy: Carey Mahoney (Steve Guttenberg), a young rogue, smarter than he lets on, who is gliding along through life, getting into trouble. Often shirtless, he’s glib with the ladies, confident among his fellow man and shows a remarkable talent for leadership even when he’s the low man on the totem pole. He worries that someday people will say “He made that alien movie with Wilford Brimley.”

Mentor

  • Star Trek: Captain Pike, who sees something in young Kirk and loads hero worship and legacy on him to talk him into joining the academy, hoping he will live up to his legacy.
  • Police Academy: Captain Reed, who sees something in young Mahoney and threatens, extorts and blackmails him into joining the academy, hoping he will fail and go to prison, because that makes sense, that you would offer a career criminal a shot at becoming a police officer. Wait, that explains so much about the ’80s.

Sidekick

  • Star Trek: Dr. McCoy, who sits down beside Kirk and makes about-to-barf sounds.
  • Police Academy: Dr. Monsignor Larvell Jones, who sits down beside Mahoney and makes every other sound known to man.

Alien

  • Star Trek: A Vulcan named Spock who is attempting to understand humanity.
  • Police Academy: Bubba Smith.

Villain

  • Star Trek: Nero, a Romulan with a vaguely explained hate-on for the rest of the universe.
  • Police Academy: Harris, a policeman with a vaguely explained hate-on for the rest of the universe, and also horses.

Kim Cattrall

  • Star Trek: Apparently Kim Cattrall posed for nude photos on the bridge during the filming of Star Trek VI, and thus was never allowed to play a Vulcan again, even though she was originally supposed to be Saavik, I think.
  • Police Academy: Kim Cattrall wears a police uniform in this movie. With handcuffs.
  • Sex and the City: Kim Cattrall is in this, and I have to go watch, so give me a minute, okay?

Bar Scene

  • Star Trek: A jumpin’ joint populated by people in uniform and strange alien creatures.
  • Police Academy: A jumpin’ joint populated by people in uniform and strange leathery creatures named Butch, Thor, Spear and Chopper.

Crisis

  • Star Trek: Bad guys are running wild over Vulcan, and Starfleet needs all the help it can get, so cadets are ordered to suit up and deploy. They roar in to save the day.
  • Police Academy: Bad guys are running wild all over town, and the force needs all the help it can get, so cadets are ordered to suit up and deploy. They roar in to save the day, except two of them lose their pistols before some general played-for-laughs sodomy.

Twist

  • Star Trek: Kirk is kicked out for being a mouthy wiseass, but sneaks back onto the ship in order to take part in the mission.
  • Police Academy: Mahoney is kicked out for being a mouthy wiseass, but sneaks back onto the bus in order to take part in the mission, and also to touch Kim Cattrall on the bumbum.

Ending

  • Star Trek: The head of the academy gives Kirk a medal and makes him an officer, despite his abject failure during training.
  • Police Academy: The head of the academy gives Mahoney a medal and makes him an officer, despite his abject failure during training. Also, Chewbacca gets one, too.

Legacy

  • Star Trek: TV series, movie sequels, comics, animated shows, action figures and an increased desire to explore space.
  • Police Academy: TV series, movie sequels, comics,animated shows, action figures and an increased desire to come up with a reason to justify having watched it again, like maybe a blog post.

One comment

  1. Of course! It all makes sense now!



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