Arnie begins in safe territory as hard city detective John Kimble, hot on the trail of drug kingpin and psychopath (handy when those two come together) Cullen Crisp (Richard Tyson), all grizzled and Terminator-like in a trench coat and holding a very large gun. Kimble finds himself in unfamiliar terrain however when it emerges that the only person who could testify against the criminal is his ex-wife, about whom the police know nothing save the name of the school her son attends in Astoria, Oregon. When Kimble’s wise-cracking professional partner (and, conveniently, former schoolteacher) O’Hara is taken violently ill, it is left to the macho detective to save the operation and go undercover himself as a teacher at the boy’s school. Cue classroom chaos.
Kindergarten Cop has to be one of the weirder merges of many genres in one movie: a gripping cop chase with detective Arnie, child-based comedy slapstick with fish-out-of-water teacher Arnie, awkward almost-romantic moments alongside a pretty teacher with tender leading-man Arnie, and a strong thread of action-hero Arnie runs throughout as he rescues children/teachers/parents/partners from various mishaps and misfortunes. It cannot be argued that the man doesn’t offer range. He also handles working with both children and animals (in this case, a ferret) with aplomb. The film satisfyingly offers up some classic Arnie movie moments too, such as his “It’s not a TU-mour!” conversation with ‘Morbid Kid’ and a solid Schwarzenegger scream following on from one of the best “Shut ups!” in cinema history.
Kindergarten Cop can also teach its viewers valuable lessons: for example, one should never trust a man with a ‘flicky’ fringe or an alliterative name. This is also the film in which I first came across the Gettysburg address, and in which I learned perhaps the most important lesson of all - which has stayed with me ever since- that of “stranger danger”.