Thursday, April 15, 2010

April 16

Sometimes, for an actor, it's about that one role. 1984 saw the release of the first Police Academy movie, yet another wacky/sexy R-rated 80's comedy. Among the comedy tropes thrown in the mix, the role of dim-witted, gun-toting patriot (a common character in Reagan-era comedies) Eugene Tackleberry was played by David Graf. In other films and TV shows, this character would have been a humourless idiot, if not an outright psychopath. But Graf's performance made Tackleberry into a naive and patriotic man-child: part Marine seargent, part puppy dog.
It worked so well, the character appeared in all six movies, surviving (or spearheading) their devolution to PG-rated theatrical sitcoms, and he was the only one with a character arc: he started as a bumbling NRA-loving virgin, found the locked-and-loaded woman of his dreams, got married, and eventually became instructor to the next generation of people who probably shouldn't have guns...

Michael Winslow was the human beatbox, Bubba Smith was cool, Leslie Easterbrook was stacked, but David Graf's Tackleberry was the funniest reason to watch the Police Academy movies. He's gone now, and the character he played has to be represented in the inevitable remake, but can anybody else give Tackleberry that heart?

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