Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Let's Re-Cast Police Academy... Why Not.


I know there have been rumblings of a Police Academy franchise re-boot.  At least I think there has been, and if there hasn't it won't be long.  Also, I have no faith in a re-boot of a franchise that was one of my childhood favorites, and was quite a fun series of films until they hit number five on Miami Beach.  They won't cast this thing right, either because of actor indifference or too many big contracts; either way my dream cast below seems like a long shot.  But this sure is a fun thing to do because of the sprawling central cast and wonderful possibilities.  I have been thinking about this Police Academy cast a lot recently - at least more than any sane person should think about a Police Academy cast - and some of these choices for the new class feel like second nature.  And then there are some tough ones.  I realize some characters come and go, some do not appear until the sequels, but I think these are the most vital characters (if those exist in this world) in the franchise.  Here we go:

First and foremost, the casting of Sargeant Cary Mahoney is key in the success of this new misfit comedy.  Mahoney, the wise-cracking ladies man who was in the foreground of most of the shenanigans, was played with a wink and a nod by Steve Guttenberg as a character as amused with himself as we were watching him.  Perhaps even more in the later films.  Casting Mahoney came easily, as there is but one comedic actor as self aware as Guttenberg in the role.  This seems like a part made for Ryan Reynolds, whose dry wit and perpetual smirk fit the irony of the character.  And of course Reynolds can stick the landing on the ladykiller angle with the best of them.

Next in line behind Mahoney is the grand master of the team of goofballs, one aimless feckless Commandant named Eric Lassard.  Never far from his goldfish, Lassard is just as unaware of his surroundings as Mahoney is aware.  Played by Geogre Gaynes of Punky Brewster fame, Lassard was the lovable dope everyone "reported" to.  This felt like an easy casting chore as well.  Given his age now, his recent success on television, and his ability to play aloof with the best of them, I think Chevy Chase would slide into the role seamlessly.  Chase would bring a different sort of airheaded gullability to the role, carrying that goldfish a bit differently and swinging the golf club with a backstroke of a master physical comedian that Gaynes didn't quite have.


Filling out the ensemble cast might prove a little more difficult in areas.  I whittled away the outliers of the group and came up with a nucleus of five cadets: Tackleberry, Hightower, Hooks, Jones, and Callahan.  Tackleberry, the off-center munitions expert (and my childhood favorite) was played by the late David Graf and I had a tough time nailing down a new mate to fill the role.  I settled on Channing Tatum, whose mixture of muscleheaded machismo and comedic timing would fit perfectly.  For Officer Hightower, the mild-mannered giant who is always there when the cadets need a strong, imposing figure, Michael Clarke Duncan seems like a natural fit to take over the role for the late Bubba Smith.  Hooks had a specific bit.  Played by Marion Ramsey, Hooks was the soft-spoken, genteel officer who, when pushed, began shouting and screaming and scaring everyone around.  Wanda Sykes knows shouting for sure, and I think it would be rather amusing to see her stay bottled up before unleashing one of her patented tirades. 

Jones was the sound-effects guru Michael Winslow, who never had much to do other than make funny noises with his mouth and play a rather insensitive Kung-Fu trainer.  I don't know anyone who does the noises, but I do know Saturday Night Live's Jay Pharoah, the master impersonator with a great set of facial features.  Maybe they could take Jones in a different direction, impersonating voices to stir up trouble.  Callahan was the buxom blonde whose only trick was her impeccibly robust breasts causing distraction.  Rarely without her aviators, Callahan may not have had a large part to play, but it was vital to the comedy.  I say put Scarlett Johannson here, slap a bleach-blonde wig on her, hide her face with some oversized aviators, and let her chest take care of the comedy.  You could even shrink her role even more to something just above a cameo to heighten the comedy of her character and the fact that it is Johansson in the part.

There are some villains to consider as well, like Captain Harris and his sidekick Proctor.  G.W. Bailey's Harris was consistently the butt of the joke, always in the crosshairs of Mahoney and the cadets and a perpetual step behind.  And there was his sidekick, the bumbling dope Proctor played by Lance Kinsey.  These are two tough casting calls, but for Harris I thought Kevin Spacey could nail this role down, channeling his wickedness from Horrible Bosses.  This is a long shot, and a big star for a role like this, but Spacey fits in my mind.  And as for Proctor, well, is there anyone else other than Michael Cera who could fit this timid moron better?  I don't think so.

Sure, this is a pipe dream casting the new Police Academy, but I must say it was fun to revisit a childhood favorite and try and fit in the right characters for the parts.  It could really be something funny and inventive, but I feel like it won't be once casting begins.  Expect a lot of unknowns to fill out the list, and don't expect anyone to call Kevin Spacey.