Comics go to the movies – MAD Magazine presents Up the Academy

So, I was picking around Netflix’s streaming movies and I looked up “Up the Academy.” This is an infamous flick with a tenuous cartooning connection. In the days after National Lampoon hit it big with their name in front of Animal House, William Gaines, the publisher of MAD Magazine, decided to get in on this action. The result was Up the Academy, a movie so bad that Gaines paid to have all mentions of MAD taken out of the movie, including the statue below that now resides in the MAD offices.

Fellow MADman Anton Emdin and I snap to attention last May

So I found Up the Academy figuring that I’d watch it and take bullet for you, dear reader, and report on it.

I must shamefully admit that I ducked when that shot was fired.

I couldn’t make it more than 20 minutes, it was so bad. It stars a pre-Karate Kid Ralph Macchio in the story of four misfit high school students sent to a military academy. Gay stereotypes. Abortion humor. And not just tasteless, but boring. Directed by Robert Downey Sr. (yep, Iron Man’s dad) in a way that reminded me of a quote from Paul Reiser’s character on the TV show Mad About You. He was a TV director and, while showing his fake wife a tape of something he wasn’t particularly proud of, he (more-or-less) said, “You know how I directed this? I turned on the camera and went and made a sandwich.” The only part that was at all interesting (and probably directed by someone else) was the credit sequence featuring a bunch of tin soldiers falling down like dominos while Alfred E.Neuman, dressed as a general, looks on.

Wait a sec… I’d thought that all references of MAD had been scrubbed from this bomb.

A trip to Wikipedia turned up that the film had been produced by Warner Brothers and when they bought MAD (after Gaines’s death) they reinstated all the MAD stuff.

That’s some fine cross-marketing, there.

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