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I saw "Mad Magazine's Up the Academy" when it was first released in 1980.
Just after I saw it, I read that the editors and publisher of Mad Magazine
disowned the flick. In fact, I understand that the scenes of the guy in the
Alfred E. Newman outfit have been cut from the movie. Also I read that
supporting player Ron Leibman was so disgusted with the movie he had his
credit removed. This movie had high school kids masturbating in the
classroom, references to "hot beef injection" and many, many, MANY other
scatological and sexually perverse goings on. Its nonsensical filth
disgusted everyone who saw it in 1980.
In other words, "Up the Academy" was a visionary creation, 20 years ahead it's time.
Of course, this certainly doesn't mean it was any good.
back in my high school days in Salina Kansas, they filmed something
called "The Brave Young Men Of Weinberg" locally, and the film crews
were rather prominent for weeks. eventually, we learned that the film
was "Up The Academy", and was a bit ummm, "lower brow" than we had been
led to believe.
I had to see it, since I was there, and the local audiences seemed less than pleased at the showing. I was 17, and thought it was a rather artless attempt at a post "Animal house" type of comedy, right down to the fart jokes.
Watched it many times since, and my opinion has mellowed a bit. it's dumb, but at times it catches a bit of the "mad" magazine humor, at least as well as most "Mad TV". Ron Liebman might hate it, but he is nearly perfect, and unforgettable. For me, my favorite moment would have been a brief scene on Santa Fe avenue, where I had parked my car, while I was buying some guitar strings. Too bad my Pinto's brief appearance, usually seems to get cut for TV. haven't seen the new DVD, but if my old pinto is visible, they've got a sale.
A stale "misfits-in-the-army" saga, which half-heartedly attempts to be both surreal (the foreign subtitles) AND vulgar (the flatulence gags), but just ends up being a mix of many different kinds of humor, none of them followed very successfully. Barbara Bach, the Bond Girl from "The Spy Who Loved Me", has only two or three brief scenes. What a waste! (*1/2)
This is one of the greatest 80s movies!!! It sticks out like a "turd in a punchbowl"!! I can't believe Mad Magazine denounced it or whatever. And yet, they proudly put their name on a show with "Stuart", "I-speak-a-no-enlish Chinese lady" and "UPS guy on speed". What's up with that? And, I LOVE Ron Leibman-he's foxy!! Wonder why he had his name removed from the credits? It was his funniest role that I know of. Of course, he's not nearly as foxy as he was in Norma Rae. But, in my opinion, this movie is right up there with National Lampoon's Vacation. If you liked movies such as Porky's, Fast Times, Last American Virgin, or any of the other 80s teen-focused movies, you'll love this one!! Rent it and you'll see what I mean!!
This is an early "gross-out" movie, where most of the comedy comes from
kids going through puberty. It is kind of a teenager soft-core porno
spoof without sex or nudity. It is a bit offensive and a bit
gratuitous, but not that much to be upset or satisfied with it.
I liked the irrelevance of it. It doesn't bother to attack the idea of a military academy, but just treats it as an absurdity from the beginning. I like the fact that it doesn't have any kind of sentimental development where the kids learn to appreciate their school at the end.
Unfortunately, the plot is pretty mindless with four diverse students defending themselves against a rather bullying and vicious militaristic instructor (Ron Leibman). The best moments are just absurd, fast gags that are justpointless and silly. For example, Barbara Bach wears a loose fitting shirt that almost shows her nipples as she instructs students in handling military weapons. We never learn why she would want to turn on her male students in this way, but we do see the students panting and there is the suggestion that they are masturbating. Obviously, this is a male fantasy with little possibility of ever happening in reality.
I think it is sad that the film was so poorly received that it effectively ended Robert Downey Senior's feature film-making career. He does direct with a carefree, fun style and makes the best out of a mediocre script. A film he did about a dozen years after this, "Hugo Pool" is much better and worth seeing.
That's what my friend Brian said about this movie after about an hour
of it. He wasn't able to keep from dozing off. I had been ranting about
how execrable it was and finally I relented and played it, having run
out of adjectives for "boring".
Imagine if you will, the pinnacle of hack-work. Something so uninspired, so impossibly dreadful, that all you want to do after viewing it is sit alone in the dark and not speak to anybody. Some people labor under the illusion that this movie is watchable. It is not, not under any form of narcotic or brain damage. I would ONLY recommend this to someone in order to help them understand how truly unbearable it is. Don't believe me? Gather 'round.
Granted, as a nation, we in America don't always portray Middle Eastern peoples in a tasteful manner. But how about a kid in a sheik outfit bowing in salaam-fashion to a stack of Castrol motor oil bottles? You'll find that here. GET IT? THE ARAB WORSHIPS OIL. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. Having the kid fly planes into a skyscraper would've been more appropriate. Who in their right mind would think that was a funny joke? It's not even close to "cleverly offensive". It just sucks and makes you want to punch whomever got paid to write that bit in the face.
In the middle of the film, a five-man singing group called the "Landmines" takes the stage at an officers' ball. Okay- are you ready? The joke is THEY SING TERRIBLY AND OFF-KEY. Why did I write that in caps also? Because the joke is POUND, POUND, POUNDED INTO YOUR HEAD with a marathon of HORRENDOUS sight gags. They start off mediocre enough; glasses cracking, punch tumblers shattering... then there is, I am 100% serious, a two-frame stop-motion sequence of A WOMAN'S SHOES COMING OFF. You read that correctly- the music was so bad, in one frame, the woman's feet have shoes on. In the very next- the shoes are off!!! Get it, because the music was so bad, her shoes came off! What the F????
Then there is an endless montage of stock footage to drive home the point that the SINGING IS BAD. If any human being actually suffered through this scene in the theater without running like hell, I would be astonished. This movie is honestly like a practical joke to see how fast people would bolt out the doors. Robert Downey Sr. directs comedy the way his son commands respect by staying drug-free. Badly. Other things to watch out for:
1. The popular music shoehorned in wherever possible. Every time Liceman appears, a really inappropriate Iggy Pop song plays. Plus all the actors do their best to act like it got really chilly for some reason.
2. Barbara Bach's criminally awful accent. She sounds like she's trying to talk like a baby while rolling a marble around on her tongue. There is no nudity, and there are several scenes where the boys all moan and writhe from a glimpse of her cleavage, like they're in a community school acting class and they've been directed to act like aroused retarded people.
3. Liceman feeds his revolting dog a condom. Remember; when this movie came out throwing in "abortion" and "condom" was seen as "edgy".
4. Tom Poston plays a mincing, boy-hungry pedophile, back when Hollywood thought "pedophile" and "homosexual" were one in the same. Flat-out embarrassing.
5. Watch the ending. Nothing is wrong with your VCR. That is actually the ending. Tell me that doesn't make you want to explode everyone who's ever made any movie, ever.
Watch this at your own risk. Up The Academy has been known to actually make other movies, like The Jerk or Blazing Saddles, less funny simply by placing the videotape near them.
The only thing I remember about this movie are two things: first, as a
twelve year old, even I thought it stunk. Second, it was so bad that
when Mad magazine did a parody of it, they quit after the first page,
and wrote a disclaimer at the bottom of the page saying that they had
completely disavowed it.
If you want to see great sophomoric comedies of this period, try Animal House. It's so stupid and vulgar it lowers itself to high art. Another good selection would be Caddyshack, the classic with the late Rodney Dangerfield and Bill Murray before he became annoyingly charming, with great lines like greens keeper Carl Spackler's "Correct me if I'm wrong Sandy, but if I kill all the golfers they'll lock me up and throw away the key."
I think this movie is really funny. Especially the part where all the cadets sit around in the dorm making fun of Major Vaughn. It's so funny because its true! I know - I went to a military school just like the Sheldon R. Wienberg Military Academy. This is the best work that Ralph Machio has done since Eight is Enough. Everyone should rent "Up the Academy" today!
Honestly, I don't recall a lot about this movie. I recall getting a few
laughs and that Ron Leibman is in it (though he refuses to acknowledge
it) and that Mad Magazine tried to compete with National Lampoon in the
movie biz, but otherwise, eh, whatever.
BUT! There is a scene in which the school hosts a dance with the girl's school nearby. The entertainment is a group called, "The Landmines" which not only reflects its military academy connection, but it's ability to blow up when least expected. This is the one thing I DO recall from this movie. When I saw this in the theatre the year it came out, I recall sitting and occasionally chuckling until that magic moment when "The Landmines" came on stage and began to swing. That group got some of the biggest howls of laughter from me. What a total lack of talent and yet, no followers like Bob Dylan! Go Figure! If you got a few extra bucks and want to rent a movie that you don't have to pay attention to, this is it, UNTIL "The Landmines" show up to perform. Then, you should pay close attention.
I used to LOVE this movie as a kid but, seeing it again 20+ years
later, it actually sucks. Up The Academy might have been ahead of it's
time back in 1980, but it has almost nothing to offer today! Movies
like Caddyshack and Stripes hold-up much better today than this
steaming dogpile. No T&A. No great jokes except for the one-liners
we've all heard a million times by now.
I recently bought the DVD in hopes that it would be the gem I remembered it being. Well, I was WAY off! The soundtrack had only 2-3 widely-recognizable hits (not the smash compilation others had mentioned) and the frequent voice-overs were terrible. The only thing that was interesting, to me, was predicting what the character's lines were before they said them. Yep, I watched this movie that much back then!
The only reason I am writing this review is to give my two cents on why this movie should be forgotten, sorry to say. :(
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