Combustible Celluloid
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With: Wendell Brown, Tommy Citera, J. Hutchison, Ralph Macchio, Harry Teinowitz, Tom Poston, Ian Wolfe, Antonio Fargas
Written by: Tom Patchett, Jay Tarses
Directed by: Robert Downey (Sr.)
MPAA Rating: R
Running Time: 87
Date: 06/06/1980

Up the Academy (1980)

2 Stars (out of 4)

Fighting MAD

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Sometimes comedy directors can't fix broken material either. Robert Downey Sr. was best known as a counter-culture director of the 1960s with his film Putney Swope (1969). Years later, he accepted a job on Up the Academy (1980). In an attempt to follow National Lampoon, it was the first and only film produced by MAD Magazine. One viewing reveals why. With this story of a group of misfit boys sent to military school, Downey incorporated elements already used in M*A*S*H, National Lampoon's Animal House and Meatballs and set the template for the lowbrow sex/prank comedy for years to come (Stripes and Porky's were later examples). Fortunately, the soundtrack does feature some great, cutting edge music from bands like the Stooges, Lou Reed, the Modern Lovers and Blondie. The director's son, Robert Downey Jr. reportedly appears somewhere (he would have been about 14). Warner Home Video's 2006 DVD release comes with the theatrical trailer.

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