Police Academy (1984)

Kim Catrall: America's sweetheart?

Aug 17, 2005 at 4:00 am
Remember when Kim Cattrall -- that gruff bottle-blond strumpet from Sex & the City who went on to write a book about postmenopausal orgasms -- used to be an adorable little brunette reminiscent of Sally Field in Smokey and the Bandit? Neither does Phyllis. But the evidence is right here, in Police Academy, where Cattrall's Cadet Karen Thompson stars as Cadet Carey Mahoney's (played by Steve Guttenberg) main squeeze.

So kittenish and subtle is she in this classic mid-'80s R-rated romp, it's hard to imagine that Sex's Samantha even shares the same DNA with Cadet Thompson. Blame it on Mannequin: Cattrall just had to try and be the va-va-voom girl in a town filled with them. Had she stayed the cutesy course, the crown of America's sweetheart might have been hers well before Julia Roberts tried it on.

But about the movie: Modern adult slapstick is an incredibly difficult niche to fill. Thankfully, the makers of Police Academy know it, sculpting their film into a brilliant hybrid of physical, ethnic and interpersonal comedy. Guttenberg is so good in the lead role of a serial ne'er-do-well that his career has actually suffered for it (he has never come close to topping it), and the supporting cast -- especially David Graf as Tackleberry and ex-NFL lineman Bubba Smith as Hightower -- is sterling.

Unfortunately, the film is based on such a sitcom premise that its creators have subsequently crapped all over it with a multitude of increasingly unbearable sequels. Things will apparently come full circle next year, as Smith and Michael Winslow (Cadet Larvell Jones) have signed on to reprise their roles in a remake. Smart money has Rachel McAdams snagging the Cattrall role (while we're at it, Vince Vaughn would be perfect as the Nuttenberg), as we're not sure the filmmakers would even recognize Samantha if she walked in to audition. -- Mike Seely

Each week the author treks to the Schlafly branch of the St. Louis Public Library, where a staff member blindfolds him and escorts him to the movie shelves. After selecting a film at random, Seely checks it out and reviews it.