Matchup of the Day: Police Academy vs. An Officer and a Gentleman
In the article “5 Dumb Movies With Disproportionately Awesome Theme Songs” the author points out the crude zaniness of Police Academy doesn’t fit the grandeur of its title theme. I grew up watching the Police Academy series on cable and I can attest to remembering the music far better than anything from the films. An Officer and a Gentleman was also floating around on cable television around that time, if I recall. “Up Where We Belong”, which was recorded for the film, was enormously popular and won the Academy Award for Best Original Song. Unlike with Police Academy, I never watched Officer during my cable TV days. I did know the song, though, because it was inescapable if a radio was nearby.
I finally did get around to seeing Officer at the urging of a family member who was enamored with Richard Gere’s performance. Also, as a child of the 80s, I felt an obligation to sit through such a massive hit from the era. Like Police Academy, it’s about a group of people going through a training program. Richard Gere in Officer is determined to make it through Navy aviation officer training. His father is chief petty officer with a penchant for drinking, and so Gere wants to prove he can do better for himself. Debra Winger plays his romantic interest. I agree with this Flickchart blog post that Winger’s charisma as an actress adds a great deal to the film’s emotional impact. The actual song “Up Where We Belong” isn’t used until the end credits, after the climactic final scene when Gere carries Winger off into the sunset. The rest of the time the music is used here and there. By the time Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warnes are heard singing I had almost forgotten the song had anything to do with the movie. Admittedly, I had given into the film’s crowd-pleasing charms by then and didn’t need my familiarity with the hit tune to maintain a connection. I’m pretty sick of “Up Where We Belong”, in all truth. Officer stands on its own.
Jennifer Warnes went on to sing in another duet that produced another tortuously overplayed song – “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life” for Dirty Dancing. That movie I did watch many, many times because Patrick Swayze was an acting powerhouse. If only he and Debra Winger had appeared together in a good romance…