POLICE ACADEMY 7: MISSION TO MOSCOW
** Out of 5
Tagline- Just When We Thought the Cold War Was Over, Leave It to These Guys to Heat It Up Again.
Release Date- August 26th, 1994
Running Time- 83-Minutes
Screenplay- Randolph Davis & Michele S. Chodos
Director- Alan Metter
Starring- George Gaynes, David Graf, Leslie Easterbrook, Michael Winslow, Ron Pearlman with Christoper Lee and G.W. Bailey as Lt. Harris
In the 80s the Police Academy were highly successful and from 1984-1989 there were a total of 6 films made all, which opened at number 1 until Police Academy 6: City Under Siege. I suppose the beginning of the end started with the 5th film as certain cast members didn’t return with Steve Guttenberg being the most notable. However despite that the 5th still turned a profit and opened at number 1. As I mentioned in past reviews each film in the series pulled in less money than the previous, but when the 6th film only pulled in roughly 11-million, which was half of the previous part and opened up at number 2 it was clear Warner Brothers ran this series into the ground. However 5-years later someone at WB thought it would be a good idea to resurrect the franchise. Police Academy: Mission to Moscow was released in 1994 and this time around several cast members didn’t return some personal choice and others the producers. The only other change, which is common as a series goes on is the number is left off and I suppose Police Academy: Mission to Moscow sounds better than Police Academy 7. All of the previous films opened in March except the 4th, which opened in April. The sequels were released barley a year after the last part with some not even being a full year later. This part however was released at the end of August where studios release films that can’t compete with the blockbusters. Mission to Moscow continued the trend of pulling in less money, but this one didn’t even pull in a million dollars by far making it the lowest grossing of the series. However it doesn’t end there as 2-years later someone at WB again decided it was a good idea to continue the series, but rather than a film it was a TV show, which only lasted 1 season (1996-1997) and thus slamming the door shut on what was a very bankable series.
In another review for the series I compared the Police Academy series to Friday the 13th as Paramount, like WB constantly made sequel after sequel. However at least in the case of Friday the 13th and other horror films you don’t have to be scary to be successful. You get an attractive cast, perhaps throw in some nudity a little gore and stage a death every 10 or so minutes you can cover up poor filmmaking and make a fun film, but in a comedy you have to be funny and there isn’t much you can do to cover up a poor film. I’ll admit to being a fan of the series. The first was actually a very funny film and the sequels while absurd were entertaining. They weren’t great films, but made for mindless fun, but by the time part 6 rolled around the formula was dead and it just wasn’t very funny. I actually never saw the 7th film until I bought the blu-ray collection, which was a UK release, but is region free and will play on US players (or players from any country).
The Russian government brings in Lassard (Gaynes) and members of his police academy to help bring down a Russian mobster.
The screenplay by Randolph Davis & Michele S. Chodos is quite weak with a lame plot that had potential to be interesting, but the poor writing sinks it. The returning characters make no impact on the story and its clear by this point there isn’t much that can be done with them and even Harris who is my favorite character in the series is s bit tiresome by now. The new characters add nothing to the film are quite boring with Connors (Charlie Schlatter) being a poor replacement for Mahoney though to the actors credit he does his best with a weak script. The script at times puts too much focus on the newer characters and again they make no impact and the script may have been better served just focusing on the returning characters, but as I said before they don’t impact the film either so I guess it doesn’t matter. There really isn’t anything funny about the film and even though the 6th film was poor at least it had a couple of decent moments, but Mission to Moscow is simply just poorly written and not funny.
Director Alan Metter delivers a poorly paced film that’s devoid of any laughs. There might be a moment or two a tiny bit amusing, but at every turn pretty much, Metter fails at delivering much entertainment. Apparently, Metter wanted to make a comedy based on the cultural differences between Americans and Russians, but it was shot down in favor of slapstick, but to be quite honest I don’t think it would have mattered. Alan Metter has made some decent films, but this one is forgettable at every turn and despite running at only 83-minutes it feels like triple that at times.
The returning cast seems to be going through the motions and none of them have any character moments and as great as these actors are in their roles by this time it’s become old and tired. The cast does their best with the very little the script had to offer. The only reason I can see any of them coming back was either for the money or this was the best role they could get or perhaps the free trip to Russia. I have to wonder how this film landed Christopher Lee and Ron Pearlman both who like the rest of the cast is totally wasted. The only real bright spot was Claire Forlani as Katrina.
Police Academy: Mission to Moscow was easily the worst of the series. There really isn’t anything funny about this film and it simply exists because it could. The Police Academy films aren’t exactly high quality films, but at least they were fun, but here I really can’t think of much positive to say. As mentioned even these great characters were tiresome and boring, which is something I’d never thought I would say as even in the weaker ones they still made an impact to some degree. Even the die hard fans of the series won’t find anything of interest here.