Review: Police Academy 8: Lavalantula

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Hot (ha!) on the heels of a category 5 Sharknado, Syfy brings us the newest and most unexpected chapter in the Police Academy saga: Police Academy 8. Or, as the Mayans called it… Lavalantula!

Twenty years has passed since the last time we saw our pals at the Police Academy.  As you can imagine, a lot has happened since then. For one thing, they’re all out of law enforcement and living under assumed names. One can surmise that they may have been placed in the witness protection program at some point, but it’s never really spelled out.

For the first time since the fourth movie, Steve Guttenberg is back, though now Mahoney is going by the name Colton West. Apparently, he took that as a screen name and enjoyed a career in film as a rocketeer action hero named the Red Rocket. This is, of course, a terrible name for reasons I don’t really want to get into. It was a bit jarring seeing an older, beefier Guttenberg running around the screen. He did a passable job as an action hero, but there wasn’t much of the kind of sarcastic wit we’ve come to expect from Mahoney over the years.

Fun fact, Steve Guttenberg turned down the lead in Sharknado.
Fun fact, Steve Guttenberg turned down the lead in Sharknado.

New to the Police Academy family is Nia Peeples as Colton’s wife, Olivia. For the most part, Olivia is on her own during the movie, using her kickboxing skills and the fact that her husband keeps a loaded shotgun on the wall at all times to great effect. Olivia’s role, like that of the occasional news reports that break in, is to give the larger picture of the government’s completely inept and half-assed response to the situation. As is typical for this breed of monster movie, they don’t really have the budget to show any sort of vaguely realistic response so they have four guys in camo show up and promptly die and that’s pretty much the entirety of the government’s involvement. Thanks, Obama!

And the situation is quite dire! All the volcanoes around Los Angeles have erupted and giant lava spiders, lavalantulas, if you will, are running around setting people on fire and generally being really annoying. And if they bite you, you will fill with tiny fire spiders that erupt out of your mouth! That sequence was genuinely kind of creepy.

Another Police Academy veteran returning is Leslie Easterbrook as badass sexpot Debbie Callahan. She and her highly flammable dog are living under the alias “Doris.” Unfortunately, it’s a rather brief appearance and she doesn’t get a chance to kick any buttocks.

For some reason.
For some reason.

The film has three basic plot lines each following a different member of the West family. Paterfamilias Colton rampages around the city hijacking buses, killing many not terribly convincing CGI lavalantulas ranging in size from lavahuahuas to lavamodo dragons. He acquires a couple sidekicks along the way, dweebie tourist Chris (Patrick Renna) and self-explanatory Pirate Jack (Ralph Garman).

No, Johnny Depp has not sunk this low... yet.
No, Johnny Depp has not sunk this low… yet.

The third member of the West family is, of course, Kanye… wait, sorry, Wyatt, played by Noah Hunt. Wyatt’s part of the story is one of those teenage horror movies where the attractive teens are stalked through a creepy warehouse by a horrible monster. Though, in this case, the warehouse is really well lit which kind of takes some of the tension out of it. Noah’s performance is… well… he doesn’t have a picture in the IMDb, let’s leave it at that. I’m sure he’s kind to his grandma, but if Wyatt is the Mutt Williams of the Police Academy franchise then he went over like Mutt Williams.

During his wanderings, Colton is fortunate enough to run into a Professor of Exposition who explains to him, and the audience, all about about the lavalantulas and how to defeat them, all things he just knows from running the gift shop at the La Brea tar pits and owning a lab coat. These scenes also establish that the lavalantulas hate fossils and paleontology so, clearly, they have to die.

So, there is only one thing to do. Colton must put aside the past and reunite with his old pals Jones (Michael Winslow) and Hooks (Marion Ramsey) against the lavarachnid menace.

The three musketeers.
Reunited and it feels so good.

And unlike Sharknado, Michael Winslow actually does some of his voices and sound effects in this one. They provide some much needed comic relief. Even by the rather low standards of the latter Police Academy sequels, the humor in this movie is pretty thin on the ground. I think I saw a guy in a banana costume, though I may have dreamed that.

Nope. Apparently not.
Nope. Apparently not.

And they do manage to lure the lavalantula’s to the Blue Oyster bar, but we don’t get to see what kind of hijinks go on inside.

Not to spoil too much, but there is eventually a Mamalantula vs. rocketeer battle that likely ate up a decent chunk of the special effects budget. It’s actually pretty entertaining and reasonably well done.

The film ends on a weird note where the actors are openly talking among themselves about doing yet another sequel. Will there be another one? Can’t say it necessarily deserves one, but these guys might make it happen.