April 20, 1987 12:00 PM

While earning $380 million at the box office, the first three films in this series deteriorated from the bright, good-natured original to the barely routine 3, which was full of listless performances and listless jokes. This is more of the same, with an increased quotient of gross-out humor. Nominal stars Steve Guttenberg and Bubba Smith do walk-throughs in a plot about citizens recruited for an auxiliary patrol. You’d need an electron microscope to find wit from screenwriter Gene Quintano, whose previous big credits were Police Academy 3 and King Solomon’s Mines. So director Jim Drake, a TV sitcom veteran, uses a lot of pratfall humor and rides the eccentric talents of Bobcat Goldthwait, who turned from psychotic gang leader to psychotic cop in 3. Goldthwait even strikes up a romance with winsome Corinne Bohrer. Their running-across-the-meadow-in-slow-motion scene is fun, though the caliber of writing is suggested by the scene’s punch line: “I think I’m going to puke.” The biggest laugh here comes from a publicity note claiming that producer Paul Maslansky “constantly strives for reality” in the Police Academy series. Say, Paul, what real-life cops substitute Mace for their commanding officer’s underarm deodorant or dance with leather-clad biker types in gay bars? (PG)

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