Blu-Ray Review – Kindergarten Cop

Kindergarten Cop, of course, stars none other than Arnold Schwarzenegger. It was directed by Ivan Reitman, and was the second of what would eventually be four comedies that the director did with Schwarzenegger. Twins was probably the most well-liked of the four, and there will soon be a sequel to that one called Triplets (with Eddie Murphy as the third unlikely sibling). Kindergarten Cop itself is a very strange movie, a totally challenged film that can go either way—sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. It’s shockingly violent for what purports to be a family film. Clearly that’s what they were aiming for, but that isn’t quite what was delivered.

The screenwriter Murray Salem, came up with the story and wrote a draft. Then two more of the Twins writers came into give it a polish. I would bet hard money that this pair tried to make it more family-friendly, but they failed. Schwarzenegger has said that the film could have made a lot more money had it been less violent, but Reitman has said that “it had to be there, or the film would just peter out at the end.”

The plot is a pretty convoluted thing. LAPD cop Schwarzenegger has to go undercover as a kindergarten teacher in a small town to get testimony to bust a drug dealer, his ex-wife has run away to Oregon with the kid. At the end, of course, Arnie decides that he really wants to be a teacher because although the kids are little terrors, he has started to appreciate them. Originally, Bill Murray was approached for the lead, which would have made a very different movie (and probably a better one). It’s all set in Astoria, Oregon, and at least it’s better than The Goonies, which I hate passionately.

It’s not a film with good stunts or really stand-out action sequences, and it’s also one of those films where the concept is far funnier than the final result. It has this odd tone where one side wants to be a late-80s/early 90s cop thriller, and the other side wants to be comedy with scenes in the classroom with the kids. There’s also a love-interest angle between Arnie and a teacher. It hasn’t aged well due to being very homophobic. Then there’s the bit with a boy who plays with Barbies, but that’s OK because it’s his way of being a sex pest and looking up little girls’ skirts.

The main reason to watch it is the dynamic between Schwarzenegger and the kids. He is actually pretty hilarious as an actor in films like Commando or Total Recall, including having good timing, but when he actually tries to be comedic instead of playing it straight, it never works.

There is also a sequel, Kindergarten Cop 2, made with Dolph Lundgren (at this point Schwarzenegger obviously had better things to do, claiming that his character was “officially retired”—his schedule also supposedly wouldn’t allow him to do cameo). It’s basically a sort of remake, which is set in Seattle instead. Lundgren is also said to have not been particularly keen on the project. I wonder why? Well, the script was terrible, for a start. It’s set in a super-politically-correct kindergarten, which on the surface is a concept that you could do something with, but it’s painfully unfunny. In fact, the less said about the existence of that film, the better. Although it does have Lundgren reading from a children’s storybook.

★★½

Ian Schultz

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