Music By Robert Folk
La-La Land Records
29 Tracks/Disc Time: 44:14
Grade: B+ (BEST OF 2013)
It's hard to believe that almost 30 years have passed since the comedy "Police Academy" was released which was in itself a surprise hit which grossed over 81 million dollars (with inflation it's five times that now) and would spawn no less than six sequels, a cartoon series and a short lived television show in the late 90's along with plans for a "Police Academy" reboot by Warner Bros. For those who have never seen the film the story is as simple as this: a goofy group of misfits that include the likeable goofball Mahoney (Steve Guttenberg, "Diner") is forced to join the local Police Academy thanks to the help of his friend Captain Reid (Ted Ross) whose given him an ultimatum: join the force or go to jail. Joining Mahoney is Larvell "Motormouth" Jones (Michael Winslow), a crook who's talents is making hilarious sounds with the sound of his own voice, Eugene Tackleberry (the late David Graf), a former night security guard whose intense demeanor and affection for guns has made this his calling, Moses Hightower (former NFL star Bubba Smith), a former florist who height makes him a formidable presence on the streets against crime, and the squeeky voiced Lavell Hooks (Marion Ramsey), whose tag line "Don't move, dirtbag!" has become one of the more memorable one liners in comedy history. They're also joined by a sauve ladiesman George Martin (Andrew Rubin), the spoiled rich Karen Thompson (Sex And The City's Kim Cattrall), who wants to breakaway from her spoiled mold, the goofy Doug Fackler (Bruce Mahler), the chubby whip Leslie Barbara (Donovan Scott) and two kiss asses of the group Kyle Blanks (Brant Van Hoffman) and Chad Copland (Scott Thompson, "Fast Times At Ridgemont High"). Under the command of the loveable and sweet Commendant Eric Lassard (the late George Gaynes, "Tootsie", "Punky Brewster") and trained by the strict and despised Lt. Thaddeus Harris (G.W.Bailey, "The Closer") and the sexy and alluring Sgt.Callahan (Leslie Easterbrook). As their training goes along, Mahoney decides that he wants to be a police officer along with the group of misfits and outcasts that have united together to be the best that they can be to keep the safe from crime or the citizens of the city from them!
The film was directed by "WKRP In Cinncinatti" creator Hugh Wilson ("Blast From The Past") with a very energetic script written by Wilson, Neal Isreal and Pat Proft and it is easy to see why the film was such as success and the fact that it aired almost endlessly on cable, television and has always been a best seller on home video and DVD which has really enhanced its' reputation as one of the best comedies of the 1980's and going strong for its' 30th Anniversary come March 23rd of next year. So with that in mind it was only fitting that La-La Land Records would have a head start on releasing the long desired soundtrack to the film which has been really long in coming. The films' original score was composed by (at the time) a relative newcomer named Robert Folk, who was just starting to get his feet wet and really hit a grand slam with his first, exciting energetic and wonderfully thematic score that it's no wonder that fans of the film (myself included) have wanted Folk's exceptional music released from the vaults at Warner Bros.
The score's signature main theme is of course the famous "Police Academy March" a staple of all of the films and the series and it is a brilliantly written and energetic piece of music that rivals that of John Williams' "March From 1941" as a comedy score comparison. "Main Title/Night Rounds" which introduces the theme briefly and shifts over to comedic suspense as we're introduced to Tackleberry's whose last night as a nightwatchman doesn't go as planned in "Rounds Resume/Tackleberry", a fun mock suspense track. The March would appear in several different guises from it's memorable noble statement in "The Academy", an ultra patriotic version with a touch of the Colonel Bogey march in "Barbara" as well as the playful "Join Up", the ultra thematic "Recruits" and "Pussycat/Uniforms" which is both hip and fun featuring a cool rhythm section featuring Michael Lang, George Doering, Randy Kerber, Michael Boddicker, Neil Stubenhaus and Abraham Laboriel which would really a great brunt of the fun in the later half of the score for the film's major set piece, the full scale riot that takes place.
In between, Folk pokes some fun at the training sequences mixing in the march along with some funky rhythms and sleezy sounding jazz. Check out the tracks "Formation/Move Out" which features Folk's theme for Lt. Harris, the thorn of the side of the recruits which is the flipside of the main theme and works every effectively as a counterpoint and continues with "Obsticles", "Warpath", "Jam Up" and "Improvement". Folk's fine expertise in funk and jazz really do play out with the lighter material for two characters in particular in Hightower and Martin, the ladiesman in "Hightower Drive", "Martin And Company", "More Martin" and the second half of "Guns/In Drag", for a hilarious seduction scene between Martin and the busty Sgt. Callahan that ends with Martin all worn out. Folk even has time to introduce a budding love theme for both Mahoney and Thompson that is very romantic and gentle and a surprising aspect to this score that you wouldn't have suspected would be included here in "Regrets" and "Need To Talk/Hightower Leaves".
The final half of the album and the score is where Folk's tone really shifts over to more of an action mode that really utlizes the talents of the rhythm section evoking alot of cool 70's style scoring for the major riot scenes where our great cadets are caught in the crossfire looters, crooks and criminals itching for a fight. Starting with the cool energetic urgency of "Riot Starts" and "Riot Gear" is just simply outstanding scoring by Folk that's capped off by the fun "SOB", "Match" and "Where's Harris?" that really make great use a variation of the "march" along with the previous tracks before them a gritty edge to them where a solo saxophone takes the lead along with aggressive strings and percussion backing them up during a crucial hostage scene which ends happily at the end. "Police Academy March" ends Folk's terrific score the way it began, with its' brilliant and regal march and for good measure and it is only very fitting that the album ends with the infamous tango piece that is played at the famous "Blue Oyster Bar" which played throughout the series as a running gag for whoever entered or stumbled into the bar (check out Police Academy 2-4 for its' unwitting victims).
La-La Land's album release of this score is just simply electric and well produced. The score isn't overbearing and it is easily a comedy score that really deserves all the attention it's now getting after 30 years and is worth the wait because of how excellent Robert Folk's music really is. Folk is a man of many talents and unfortunately due to the success of this film, he has been typecast as a "comedy" composer for the last couple of decades while producing excellent no-comedic works such as "Beastmaster 2", "Toy Soldiers", "Tremors" and the latest, "There Be Dragons", which really showcase the versitility of this excellent composer. "Police Academy" is just simply a brilliant comedy score that works on every single level and hits all of its' comedy beats when needed while adding an extra level of depth while comedic, romantic or action oriented. This is a terrific release that is well worth going for. Brilliant! Thumbs up!