Soundtracks I Have Loved: Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol

Soundtrack: Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol
Year Released: 1987
I Bought It On: Cassette
How Does It Hold Up?: As well as the movie, which you can interpret any way you wish

Track List:

1. Rock the House--Darryl Duncan
2. It's Time to Move--S.O.S. Band
3. Dancin' Up a Storm--Stacy Lattisaw
4. Let's Go to Heaven in My Car--Brian Wilson
5. The High Flyer (Police Academy Theme-Montage)--Robert Folk
6. Citizens on Patrol--Michael Winslow and the L.A. Dream Team
7. Rescue Me--Family Dream
8. I Like My Body--Chico DeBarge
9. Winning Streak--Garry Glenn
10.Shoot for the Top--Southern Pacific

The Police Academy films aren't exactly well loved in the world outside my apartment. I understand and begrudgingly accept that. They're not particularly well written, the acting is a little lacking, the storylines (such as they are) are pretty asinine, and the jokes are, for the most part, pretty lame.

But other than that, the films are really quite good.

OK, maybe they don't hold up as well as they did when I was in my pre-teens, but in that time period they were right in my cinematic sweet spot. I honestly didn't care much for the original (I think I fell asleep while watching it on video, and I can't say with any confidence that I've ever seen the whole thing), but I was hooked with Police Academy 2: Their First Assignment, in which I was introduced to the genius that is Bobcat Goldthwait as Zed. I remember being disappointed by Police Academy 3: Back in Training, probably because the anticipation was so high after the second chapter. But then when I saw the full-color ad in the Sunday comics for Police Academy 4: Citizens in Patrol, I became giddy with excitement again. I cut out the ad, taped it on my wall, and prepared for the funny (please note that I now own the movie poster, and it's signed by Steve Guttenberg, Leslie Easterbrook, and Michael Winslow...yes, I'm bragging). This was going to be the first Police Academy movie I would see in the theater, and I was pumped.

I was not disappointed. The bad taste left from Police Academy 3 was quickly washed away in the opening scene, and by the time the movie ended I was back on board with the franchise. Police Academy 5: Assignment: Miami Beach was strong, too, but Police Academy 6: City Under Siege was a mess, and I haven't even bothered to see Mission to Moscow, so I feel comfortable in declaring that Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol was the crest of the Police Academy wave.

It's the last Mahoney movie, as Guttenberg seemingly figured that once Three Men and a Baby hit, his career was ready to take off and he could leave the franchise behind. Both he and the franchise suffered for it, but this film is a strong goodbye, for both he and Goldthwait (plus The Gutt got Sharon Stone as his love interest, so that was nice). And the film's also got the 23-year-old David Spade and 31-year-old Brian "Ratner" Backer deftly playing young skate punks, complemented off the boards by Tab Thacker (who I just discovered died three years ago, which makes me a little sad) as the aptly named House.

Here's the best nine minutes from the movie. Do with that statement what you will.

We could sit here and debate if the fourth installment or the second is the best all day (and I know you want me to), but let me move into the point of this blog and tell you that I only own the soundtrack to one Police Academy movie and that's Police Academy 4. It's easily the musically strongest (then again, I don't even remember music from any of the other movies, other than the "Blue Oyster Theme," so they might not even have soundtracks).

The soundtrack gets off to a terrible start, though. It starts so poorly that I'm willing to posit the theory that Motown (yes, Motown put this out) got the sides mixed up and Side 1 should really be Side 2. How else to explain that the seemingly interminable "Rock the House" leads off the album, while this undeniable gem is the leadoff track on Side 2?

Seriously. Buried on Side 2. Unbelievable. That's a leadoff soundtrack tune if ever there was one. Michael Winslow was robbed, along with the L.A. Dream Team (props also to Mike Stuart and Arthur Funaro, who are listed as the song's writers).

This theory is wrecked only by the inclusion of Brian Wilson's excellent "Let's Go to Heaven in My Car" in the four hole on Side 1. Yes, that Brian Wilson. Maybe Eugene Landy saw the big career and credibility boost McCartney got from doing "Spies Like Us" and urged Wilson to get in on that action. In yet another instance where the Internet pulls up lame, there isn't a clip of this song on YouTube. I blame Mike Love. Anyway, you can hear a tiny piece of it in the background starting at 6:05 of this clip.

"Rescue Me" is the top clunker on Side 2, but things pick up after that. Chico DeBarge's "I Like My Body" is so terrible it's endearing, but the cyberspace Chico DeBarge fan club hasn't put that on YouTube either, so you'll again have to settle for hearing it briefly in the background of a scene. But at least it gives me an excuse to post a link to a Blue Oyster scene. "Winning Streak" (this isn't the soundtrack cut, but it'll do) is so of the '80s that its power cannot be denied, and the album closer, Southern Pacific's "Shoot for the Top," is a song I still sing in my head whenever I see a bunch of skateboarders. And, from what I gather, the scene in the film that makes me do that is a big hit with the skater kids, mainly because it features a young Tony Hawk, along with a bunch of other famous skaters who don't have their own video games or clothing lines. Here's the song, sans skateboarders (enjoy the clip from the movie--in French--here).

And, to prove that it isn't just John Hughes movies that leave key songs off soundtracks, whither The Blow Monkeys' "It Doesn't Have to Be That Way," which is playing when Zed and his love Laura (Corinne Bohrer) run into each other's arms? It could have easily taken the place of "It's Time to Move," "Dancin' Up a Storm," or "Rescue Me."

In retrospect, the soundtrack, like the movie, probably isn't as good as I once thought it was. But with a solid Brian Wilson cut, some classic examples of "the '80s sound," and the perennially, undeniably awesome title cut, it's still better than it has any right to be. And I have no problem declaring my love for it in 2010.

So there.

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