Police Academy

Movie review by
Brian Costello, Common Sense Media
Police Academy Movie Poster Image
Sophomoric '80s cop-spoof has profanity, sex, stereotypes.
  • R
  • 1984
  • 96 minutes

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 4 reviews

Kids say

age 14+
Based on 7 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

While an argument could be made that the film has a message of "You can be anything you want to be if you put your mind to it," that message is easily lost in the maelstrom of stupid comedy.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The characters are essentially one-dimensional stereotypes. The authority figures are either overly zealous disciplinarians or bumbling fools.


Lots of comic slapstick including fistfights, a motorcycle crash, falling headfirst into the backside of a horse. Verbal bullying. A riot breaks out. Rioters are shown looting, brandishing sticks. Gun play between members of the police academy and "the bad guys." Misfired guns throughout.


Women are shown naked from the waist up while showering. A rear end is shown. A character asks another character if he and his wife "do it doggie style." Two scenes with strongly implied oral sex. Two characters are sent to a gay bar, where patrons dress in leather and force the characters to dance with them. A female character jumps on top of a male character in his room and removes her shirt, while demanding he have sex with her.


Frequent profanity: "crap," "d--khead," "s--t," "a--hole," "goddamn," "pissant," "numbnuts," "son of a bitch," and "f--k." One of the antagonists makes two racial slurs. Another antagonist makes a homophobic pun of another character's last name. Another character says that "sleeping is for fags."


Early in the film, a Kodak photo booth is featured prominently.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Characters are smoking cigarettes throughout. During a party characters are shown smoking, drinking, and acting drunk.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Police Academy is a classic of '80s cop-spoof films but it is not for kids. The sophomoric humor is rooted in one-dimensional character stereotypes, and there is frequent profanity, as well as nudity, sex, and violence. Furthermore, unlike similar '80s movies like Airplane!, Meatballs, and Caddyshack, Police Academy's "so dumb it's funny" brand of comedy hasn't aged well. Parents looking to share with their kids the '80s movies of their youth are encouraged to look elsewhere.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byscooch June 28, 2020
Adult Written byzeekattacklee August 14, 2017

A slapstick comedy with cops

I checked this film out over the weekend since I decided to get Netflix again. Although it does contain profanity, the F-word is only used twice. the nudity wa... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written byPme1223 October 19, 2020
Teen, 14 years old Written bySuperman 1123 June 26, 2020


Eat it all up

What's the story?

The mayor has just passed a law lowering the standards necessary to meet the minimum qualifications required to join the police force. As a result, dozens of misfits who ordinarily wouldn't have tried are now attending the POLICE ACADEMY. There's a gung-ho security guard named Tackleberry, a rich girl looking to expand her horizons (Kim Cattrall), and a guy who makes sound effects with his mouth, among many others. The ringleader of this ragtag bunch is Mahoney (Steve Guttenberg), who is sent to the police academy as an alternative to jail time after vandalizing a Trans Am at his parking garage job. He is not allowed to quit -- if he does, he goes to jail. But the disciplinarian Lieutenant Harris, in conjunction with the bumbling Commandant Lassard, have determined that no one will be kicked out. This means that Mahoney, along with the rest, are trapped at the academy as they fumble their way into being cops. When a riot breaks out in the city, these officers-in-training are sent to assist the actual police and must prove they have what it takes to be bona fide members of law enforcement.

Is it any good?

Obviously, Police Academy lacks the wit and sophistication of, say, a Woody Allen film. There is no question that it's firmly rooted in the school of '80s lowbrow humor. That being said, compared to similar films from the era, like Airplane!, Meatballs, and Caddyshack, the first of many Police Academy films simply isn't all that funny. The one-dimensional characters grow tiresome and predictable, the pratfalls and sightgags grow tedious, and many of the one-liners are dated to the point of corniness.

For families, the one or two laughs Police Academy may garner isn't worth all the profanity, sex, and violence happening throughout, to say nothing of the racial and homophobic slurs dropped throughout. Parents looking to share some memories from the '80s will find better options.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the characters in the movie. What makes them funny or not? Are stereotypes ever funny? When does comedy go too far?

  • What are some aspects of the film that root it firmly in the 1980s?

  • What similarities and differences do you see in this film compared to other comedies from the '80s? What about compared to more modern comedies?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love classics

Themes & Topics

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