Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Penelope Ann Miller
Scott’s Review #1,306
Reviewed October 12, 2022
Before Arnold Schwarzenegger found politics and after he left professional bodybuilding, he starred in a string of films during the 1980s and 1990s. At first solely a bankable action figure due to his bulky frame, he delved into more comedic and friendlier film roles.
Kindergarten Cop (1990) is one of those films yet there is enough mild violence to draw in the male crowd too.
Some of his films were better than others with the best of the bunch being The Terminator (1984) and True Lies (1994).
Kindergarten Cop is fair to a middling effort that attempts to transport the brawny star into a likable teacher but the result feels more forced than genuine. Naturally, the main character ends up in a quandary over whether he wants to fight crime or teach youngsters after he falls in love with them and another teacher.
The setup is way too similar to other films in the action-comedy genre and the film is very standard fare. The bad guy and love interest are tired and cliched, and the gags involving the kids are overly juvenile and mostly fall flat.
Despite these trite characteristics, Kindergarten Cop is not a terrible film and this is thanks to Schwarzenegger’s appeal. He is good-natured and his transition from grizzled cop to a kindly teacher is not unfun.
It provides some family-friendly light entertainment that can be enjoyed on a rainy Saturday afternoon.
Unusual circumstances find cop John Kimble (Schwarzenegger) forced to pose as a kindergarten teacher to apprehend major drug lord Cullen Crisp (Richard Tyson) and his accomplice and mother, Eleanor, played by Carroll Baker.
While pretending to be a kid-friendly instructor, Kimble falls for pretty fellow teacher Joyce Palmieri (Penelope Ann Miller) as he tries to balance unruly children with the dangerous bad guys.
In a twist seen coming a mile away, Joyce and her son are the people that Cullen is pursuing.
Kindergarten Cop all seems so perfectly thought out. It’s like a bunch of suits were sitting at a round table making sure the elements were all included: hero, bad guy, love interest, kids, enough action sequences, and a chase finale.
There is even one standard black kid and one Asian kid to check off the diversity box. And enough precociousness to last a lifetime.
The comedy mostly comes in the classroom where it’s frequently humorous to watch a gigantic man teach little kids especially when he has no idea what to do. Careful not to be too silly there are a couple of sentimental moments and social situations like when Kimble threatens a father who is abusing his son.
Director Ivan Reitman, quite familiar with screwball comedies, directed funnies such as Meatballs (1979) and Stripes (1981) so he knows what provides chuckles.
The action sequences do not work well other than providing a reason for Kimble to run around and protect the kids and Joyce. We all know he will eventually best Cullen which he does.
Even the amazing Linda Hunt is wasted as a one-dimensional principal who at first hates Kimble but then comes around to accept him.
Kindergarten Cop (1990) is too blueprint-ready to recommend since it contains elements used in hundreds of other films. But for fans of the hulking Schwarzenegger, the film is a safe offering that sees the film star more softly.