Mahoney (Steve Guttenberg), Tackleberry (David Graf), Hightower (Bubba Smith), Jones (Michael Winslow), Hooks (Marion Ramsey), Callahan (Leslie Easterbrook, missing in POLICE ACADEMY 2), and Fackler (Bruce Mahler) are called back to their old academy to help Commandant Lassard (George Gaynes). Budget cuts demand that either Lassard’s academy or a rival academy commanded by Mauser (Art Metrano) be closed down, so the two sides engage in a competition to decide which academy is the better. Writer Gene Quintano’s plot is a nice opportunity to bring back characters from earlier movies, such as Copeland (Scott Thomson) and Blanks (Brant von Hoffman), to stock Mauser’s team.
Beginning with this entry, the remaining POLICE ACADEMY sequels would be rated PG, so I suppose it made sense to hire television directors to make them. Jerry Paris’ setups and lighting look like television, but are well-suited to the broad slapstick and setup/joke blackouts. The jokes are ridiculously obvious—Smith is huge and strong and scary, small Tim Kazurinsky is meek, the Asian guy knows kung fu and struggles with the language. The plot is basically the same as the first POLICE ACADEMY—taking the franchise back to its roots, as it were—but with all the new characters running around and screaming, the sense of friendship that makes us want to root for our lovable losers is lost.
Paris died ten days after POLICE ACADEMY 3’s release in March 1986. A talented character actor and sitcom director best known for playing the dentist neighbor on THE DICK VAN DYKE SHOW and directing 237 episodes of HAPPY DAYS, Paris’ last two features were POLICE ACADEMY sequels. He was reportedly set to direct POLICE ACADEMY 4 too, but he was too sick to take the job, and Jim Drake, another sitcom director (WHO’S THE BOSS), landed the gig. Music by Robert Folk. Also with Debralee Scott, Ed Nelson, Brian Tochi, Lance Kinsey, Georgina Spelvin, Arthur Batanides, David James Elliott (JAG), Paris’ lookalike son Andrew as Tackleberry’s brother-in-law (why wasn’t Colleen Camp in this?), and George R. Robertson.