Kindergarten Cop is a good merging of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s comedic ability and the genre he made a name for himself in, action.
Arnie stars as John Kimble, a detective trying to put a drug dealer, Cullen Crisp (Richard Tyson), away for murder. When their junkie eye witness turns up dead, Kimble must find Crisp’s former wife (Penelope Ann Miller), who has relocated to a small town in Oregon using a different name. Kimble is able to discover the school her son now goes too and is forced to go undercover as a kindergarten teacher in order to identify him when his partner (Pamela Reed) comes down with food poisoning. Kimble quickly realises that the murderers and drug dealers of Los Angeles are nothing compared to a classroom full of kindergarten students. He has to look the part long enough to identify Crisp’s son and offer his wife witness protection before Crisp can find her himself and silence her for good.
Arnold Schwarzenegger had already showed he could do comedy well in the film Twins, but I don’t think anybody expected he had this sort of performance in him. Arnold has terrific chemistry with all of the children he works with in the film, as well as Pamela Reed and Penelope Ann Miller. In a movie like Twins, Schwarzenegger was fortunate to have a great comedian working with him in Danny DeVito. This was not the case in Kindergarten Cop, most of the laughs fall squarely on Arnold’s shoulders and he delivers. I don’t think he gets enough credit for his performance here. It is a very funny, and not something you would expect from many of the other 80s action stars like Stallone or Van Damme. Only Arnold has been able to make a really good film that hasn’t been purely action.
I actually remember watching this film with my parents in Denver, Colorado. It was just after we moved there from Australia. I was eight years old, and this was my first introduction to Arnold Schwarzenegger. His earlier films were not appropriate for me, so this was the only Arnie fix I could get at the time. The next year he would go on to make Terminator 2, which would end up being the first R-rated movie I saw. You could say that Kindergarten Cop helped to create one of my most longstanding film relationships. I am a huge fan of Arnold Schwarzenegger, I can find enjoyment in even his dumb action films. His charisma is not to be underestimated. The man owns the screen, and in his prime was definitely one of my favourite actors.
Kindergarten Cop takes full advantage of Arnie’s comedic ability and his chemistry with a cast of youngsters, giving us a fun action comedy that the whole family can enjoy.
For a long time Kindergarten Cop was the only Arnold Schwarzenegger movie I had ever seen. What can I say, Kid Sally had no interest in his body of work (Teen Sally didn’t really care, either). I’m not even sure why I watched this movie in the first place. It was probably on television and for some reason I decided not to change the channel? All I know is that my sister and I started using the “It’s not a tumah!” line as often as possible after seeing it. This movie obviously made a huge impact on us.
I personally prefer Arnie in comedies or action movies that employ his comedic chops. He may have built his career on action, but he’s a born funny man. Kindergarten Cop combines both facets of his talent. I really enjoy it, but it’s far from Schwarzenegger’s best.
The only real problem with Kindergarten Cop is that the actual movie is less funny than the premise. Obviously watching Schwarzenegger wrangle a bunch of five-year-olds is funny, I just feel like the concept could be more hilarious. There’s only so many ways you can poke fun at the fact that this muscly police officer is not good with children, and after about halfway through the film the joke starts to get old.
Still, what makes this movie truly enjoyable to watch is how well it balances the comedy and action sides of the story. Blending these two genres isn’t a new concept, but combined with this premise it would have been a tough sell. Schwarzenegger’s charm is what brings it all together. Say what you will about the guy, but you can’t deny that he’s damn likable on screen.