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Kindergarten Cop (1990)

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Score: 7/10

Genre: Action Comedy Running Time: 1 hr. 51 min.

Release Date: December 21st, 1990 MPAA Rating: PG-13

Director: Ivan Reitman Actors: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Penelope Ann Miller, Pamela Reed, Linda Hunt, Richard Tyson, Carroll Baker, Cathy Moriarty

I

t’s certainly not the best Arnold Schwarzenegger film, nor is it the greatest of director Ivan Reitman’s repertoire (he directed “Meatballs,” “Stripes,” “Ghostbusters,” and “Twins” prior), but “Kindergarten Cop” definitely has its place amongst thoroughly entertaining action comedies. Casting the enormous Austrian to play nice in a classroom full of six-year-olds was a stroke of genius, perfectly contrasting the innocence and stature of young children to a body-building, heavy-hitting, loose-cannon cop. Genuinely funny, decently acted (despite two of the worst villains in movie history), and all-around silly, “Kindergarten Cop” is perhaps the most noteworthy of Arny’s family-friendly films, curiously released between “Total Recall” and “Terminator 2: Judgment Day,” the most outstanding of his science-fiction works.

Notorious drug dealer Cullen Crisp (Richard Tyson) is trying to track down his ex-wife, who ran away with their son and millions of dollars. Crisp quickly falls under the attention of undercover cop Detective John Kimble (Arnold Schwarzenegger), who nabs him for the murder of an informant. When the only witness to the crime refuses to testify, Crisp walks, rejoining his scheming mother Eleanor (Carroll Baker) on the hunt for his missing son.

Though Kimble is determined to protect the woman and child, the only lead is an elementary school in Astoria, Oregon. Going undercover once again, John is partnered with the food-loving, hypoglycemic detective Phoebe O’Hara (Pamela Reed), who is scheduled to pose as a kindergarten teacher. When she falls ill, it’s up to the massive policeman to keep up their ruse and pretend to be the substitute. Principal Schlowski (Linda Hunt) doesn’t like it one bit, but reluctantly cooperates, while the situation becomes further complicated when John falls for the attractive Joyce (Penelope Ann Miller), the teacher across the hall from his classroom of uncontrollable students.

“I’m a cop, you idiot!” Schwarzenegger once again gets to deliver some delightfully cheesy one-liners for the sake of being a badass, almost all while breaking the law, roughhousing, toting monstrous firepower, and intimidating scumbags. Outside of the action film standards for gunplay and wisecracking, “Kindergarten Cop” uses children for humor in numerous, excellently designed scenes. Most are so young that their reaction, responses, and line reciting come across as believable, spontaneous, and surprisingly humorous. One kid is obsessed with death, one looks up girls’ skirts, and one eats everyone else’s food. They’re hysterical without being inserted just for comic relief. The use of tiny youngsters, a petite partner, and a very short principal makes Arnold just that much more monstrously out of place. As for the villains, the mother/son duo doesn’t get much more annoying and fake than these incredibly cartoonish, poorly scripted choices – but Schwarzenegger more than makes up for it.

– Mike Massie

 



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