Up the Academy
Mad Magazine Presents Up the Academy, often just shortened to Up the Academy, is a 1980 American comedy film directed by Robert Downey Sr. and starring Wendell Brown, Tommy Citera, Ron Leibman, Harry Teinowitz, Hutch Parker, Ralph Macchio, Tom Poston, King Coleman, and Barbara Bach. The plot concerns the outrageous antics of a group of misfits at a military school.
|Up the Academy|
|Directed by||Robert Downey Sr.|
|Written by||Tom Patchett|
|Produced by||Danton Rissner|
|Cinematography||Harry Stradling Jr.|
|Edited by||Bud Molin|
|Music by||Jeff Rawluk|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros. Pictures|
|Box office||$10 million|
Four teens, Ike, Oliver, Hash, and Chooch are all sent to Sheldon R. Weinberg academy. Ike is a sexually precocious teen who got sent for having a romantic relationship with his stepmother, Oliver got sent for getting his girlfriend pregnant who now got an abortion, Hash got sent for stealing money, and Chooch got sent for having no respect in his rich life. When they arrive, they immediately hate it and they don't like their rude, bossy, threatening major at the academy, Major. Vaughn Liceman. They agree to get along to survive the academy, except Chooch who wants to be on his own.
Oliver finds out that his girlfriend, Candy is at Mildred S. Butch academy near him after receiving a letter from her. When all the boys play soccer, Hash kicks the soccer ball to Liceman's head. When Liceman takes off Hash's cap, he finds his watch and threatens to hurt Hash if he stole his stuff again.
Oliver plans to meet Candy at her academy, but is scared of getting caught by Liceman. Hash makes a plan by driving Oliver to Candy's academy with Ike and Rodney Ververgaert who is their new roommate. At night, they drop Oliver off at the academy then Oliver and Candy have sex. The boys are caught by Liceman when they return to the boys' academy. Not only did Liceman catch them, he took pictures of Oliver and Candy, and says that he'll show them on the boys' last day and Oliver's dad won't win the election.
The boys assumes Chooch is responsible for snitching on them, but Chooch records Rodney being the one snitching and not him and shows them the recording on his radio. Ike, Oliver, Hash, and Chooch plan that on the big dance night, they'll have Candy pretend to be a commandment from her academy and seduce Liceman so they'll take pictures of him being bad to women while still being major. The boys sneak into a truck in disguise to buy stuff to use to take pictures of Liceman. At the dance, Ike becomes distracted by his hot teacher, Bliss while smoking marijuana with her, but is able to tie Rodney up before he catches the boys. Hash, Oliver, and Chooch get in Liceman's cabin and take pictures of Liceman in a pink lingerie almost whipping Candy. The boys and Liceman make a deal that whoever wins the soccer game keeps all the pictures.
Everyone's parents join at the academy to watch them play the soccer game. The boys won, but Hash is unable to get the safe open in Liceman's cabin. Rodney who feels bad for what he did shoots a rocket and blows Liceman's cabin up. The movie ends with Liceman chasing Ike, Oliver, Hash, Chooch, Candy, and Rodney while Liceman yells "play it again", playing the scene three times.
- Ron Leibman as Maj. Vaughn Liceman (uncredited)
- Wendell Brown as Eisenhower "Ike" MacArthur
- Tommy Citera as El-Hashid "Hash" Amier Jr.
- Hutch Parker as Oliver Holt
- Ralph Macchio as Chooch Bambalazi
- Harry Teinowitz as Rodney Ververgaert
- Tom Poston as Sisson
- Ian Wolfe as Commandant Causeway
- Antonio Fargas as Coach
- Stacy Nelkin as Candy
- Barbara Bach as Bliss
- Leonard Frey as Keck
The film was an attempt to cash in on the phenomenal and unexpected success of National Lampoon's Animal House, which was also a film made by a comedy magazine about a group of misfits at college. In 1983, Mad publisher Bill Gaines explained the genesis of his magazine's involvement in the film to The Comics Journal:
What happened is that we had a contract with Warner Brothers to put out a Mad movie. It's like four years old now. They came up with a script that we didn't like, and then they came up with a script using our scriptwriters that they didn't like, but meanwhile they threw this script onto our desk ... Although there were many things in it that I thought were offensive and should be removed, generally I liked the script. And I thought, 'Well, in addition to a Mad movie, there's nothing wrong with having something like Lampoon did with Animal House. Animal House was "Lampoon Presents" and really had nothing to do with the magazine, it was just using their name, and it was a good movie, and it was very successful, and it made Lampoon a lot of money. I guess. So we were going to do the same thing. "Mad Magazine Completely Disassociates Itself from Up the Academy". But that was too long for them, they can't think in that many words. They put the damn thing out without all the deletions they had promised to make, which means they're liars. I'm talking about one of my sister companies [laughter] ... And there we were connected with it, and there wasn't much we could do about it. I paid Warner Brothers 30 grand to take Mad's name off for television. So for $30,000 we got out of being associated with it on Home Box Office. It won't say "Mad Magazine Presents" and Alfred E. Neuman won't be in it. And it was well worth $30,000. [laughter]
It was directed by Robert Downey Sr., and starred Wendell Brown, Tommy Citera, Harry Teinowitz, Hutch Parker (younger brother of Parker Stevenson), Tom Poston, Barbara Bach, Stacey Nelkin, Ralph Macchio (his screen debut) and King Coleman. The movie was filmed entirely in Salina, Kansas, mostly on the campus of St. John's Military School.
The film was neither a commercial nor critical success when it was originally released, and was disowned by both the staff of Mad magazine and actor Ron Leibman (who, despite his sizable role, had his name completely removed from the credits and promotional material). Besides paying Warner Bros. $30,000 to remove all references to Mad from the film when it was released on home video, Mad's publisher William Gaines issued personal handwritten apologies to every person that wrote the magazine to complain. However, the film developed a small cult following. Following Time Warner's purchase of Mad (and after Gaines' death in 1992), all references to the magazine were reinstated on cable television. In 2006, the original version of the film was issued on DVD.
References in MadEdit
- In the tradition of Mad making fun of movies, the magazine spoofed their own film with "Mad Magazine Resents Throw Up the Academy". The parody mainly concerned Ron Leibman's name being removed, and the teenage troublemakers being punished by having to star in the film. Unlike most Mad movie parodies which are often several pages in length, this one was only two (appearing in place of the magazine's usual letters column), as the piece devolved into a series of supposed interoffice memos by the writer, artist and editors, all decrying their role in the parody. Finally, a fake note said that the entire staff of Mad quit over their shame, and the article was hereby discontinued.
- The statue featuring Alfred E. Neuman with a pigeon on his head is located in Mad's editorial offices.
- "Up the Academy (1980) - Financial Information". The Numbers. Retrieved 13 March 2021.
- "Up the Academy (Film)". TV Tropes. Retrieved 13 March 2021.
- Comics Journal #81, May 1983, Fantagraphics Publishing, pp. 64–66
- "Up the Academy (Film)". TV Tropes.
- "MAKE visits MAD | Flickr – Photo Sharing!". Flickr. 2008-02-21. Retrieved 2011-02-02.