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Police Academy
  • Composed by Robert Folk
  • La-La Land Records / 2013 / 44m

I love America and have a number of wonderful American friends but there are some things about the country I will never understand, one of which is the apparent love its people have for the spectacularly, almost offensively unfunny Police Academy series of films.  My motto through life has always been “When it comes to American comedy movies of the 1980s, no Zucker-Abrahams-Zucker equals no sale” and this has served me tremendously well.  Still, some people like it, I guess; and it was nice to see Steve Guttenberg get a secondary source of income once royalties from inventing the printing press had dried up.  Robert Folk’s score has perennially appeared on people’s wish lists but has never seen a release until now; Folk also scored each of the film’s eight thousand sequels, but La-La Land’s album features only the score from the first film.

Folk is a very talented, underrated composer and this is undoubtedly his most famous score; it follows the Elmer Bernstein mould of comedy scoring, playing things with a generally straight face.  The main march theme is a close relative of Jerry Goldsmith’s Patton (which was the temp track) and features heavily through the score; it’s a satisfying parody/homage, but by the time you’ve heard it over and over and over again on the album I suspect even the most devoted fan’s patience is likely to be somewhat tried.  Elsewhere there are technically accomplished orchestral shenanigans occasionally mixed with pop elements, the best of which is the very cheesy love theme heard only fleetingly.  A couple of action cues towards the end of the album which are a little lengthier than most tracks are certainly amongst its highlights; unfortunately, in keeping with many scores for comedies, a large number of cues are very short and there is a real piecemeal feel which makes the album as a pure listening experience rather hard to rate highly.  Those with an affinity for the movie will surely love it; those without are likely to be wondering what all the fuss was about.  I think it can be a struggle to produce truly satisfying soundtrack albums from even the most musically literate comedy scores (and this one is certainly musically literate); frequently, the composer does his duty of writing the perfect music for the film, but it just doesn’t work away from the film as more than a musical souvenir.  Police Academy feels like another example of that.  Judging by the general reaction to the album, I’m about the only person in the world who feels that way.

Rating: ** | |

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  1. Matt (Reply) on Friday 10 January, 2014 at 16:59

    2 stars seems a little harsh. Yes, I agree that the theme gets quite repetitive in the album but I found myself revisiting this quite a bit more than a lot of comedy scores I own. Folk improves upon the score with the next 3 movies so if La La Land manages to release those, it would make a great compilation album. But I would definitely give this a 3 star rating easily.

  2. Jens (Reply) on Friday 10 January, 2014 at 21:46

    Couldn’t disagree more, but then again I’ve always loved Folk’s Police Academy scores (and let’s face it – practically everything else the man’s ever written), and used to have to make due with the muddy, hissy bootleg. To finally hear it sounding so crisp is a joy. Frankly my only complaint is that I was hoping to drop a hundred bucks or so on some sort of Police Academy box set, but alas it was not to be. There’s some truly outstanding action material in the later scores.