Kindergarten Cop, 1990
Directed by Ivan Reitman.
Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Penelope Ann Miller, Pamela Reed, Richard Tyson, Miko Hughes.
UK Blu-ray releases of hard-man-cops-turned-kindergarten-teachers action comedies.
There comes a point in every action hero’s movie career when they have to relent and prove they are not just a gun and a pair of fists, and for Arnold Schwarzenegger that moment came with 1988s Twins. However, despite being a commercial success, Twins was a co-headliner with Danny DeVito providing most of the jokes at Arnie’s expense, and so between the heavy hitters of Total Recall and Terminator 2 Arnie tried his hand at comedy again with Kindergarten Cop, and what a joy it was.
If you haven’t seen Kindergarten Cop by now then the basic premise is that tough streetwise cop John Kimble (Schwarzenegger) has to go undercover as a kindergarten teacher in order to find the on-the-run wife and child of paroled criminal Cullen Crisp (Richard Tyson – Two Moon Junction) before Crisp can get to them. Cue lots of laughs about Kimble’s physical appearance, his being unable to control kids despite putting away dangerous criminals and a cast of supporting actors who make a good fist of what is basically a one joke script, resulting in a comedy that pokes fun at Schwarzenegger’s physicality and action star status without making him a complete clown.
What is pleasing about Kindergarten Cop is that nearly 30 years after it was first released it still works, especially when you consider how many of Arnold’s lines have now become pop culture quotes; yes, this is the movie where he complains that his headache “is not a tumour” and that moment when an adorable Miko Hughes stands up and announces that “Boys have a penis and girls have a vagina” never stops being funny. The balance between family comedy and cop thriller is pretty bang on, and despite a slight lag in the middle where Kimble has to establish a relationship with teacher Joyce (Penelope Ann Miller – Carlito’s Way) the breezy direction and Schwarzenegger’s natural charisma ensure the end result is as charming and heart-warming as the best romantic comedy or family drama, just with a bit of a hard edge.
Kindergarten Cop 2, 2016
Directed by Don Michael Paul.
Starring Dolph Lundgren, Fiona Vroom, Aleks Paunovic, Andre Tricoteux, Sarah Strange, Darla Taylor, and Bill Bellamy
Which leads us to 2016 and Kindergarten Cop 2, the belated and unrelated sequel that nobody asked for, where Arnold Schwarzenegger’s John Kimble character has been replaced by Zack Reed, this time played by Dolph Lundgren (Rocky IV/Masters of the Universe) because, y’know, big guy trying to control little kids and all that. In a similar story to the first film, FBI Agent (so not a cop then…) Reed goes undercover in an exclusive kindergarten in order to retrieve a flash drive hidden by the previous teacher who was the brother of a computer hacker with access to classified files, and just to make things a bit more awkward the local crime boss is also after the same flash drive. Naturally, Reed has trouble adjusting to his new surroundings as the school takes a slightly more spiritual outlook on life and frowns upon his caveman-like behaviour, but he does find love with a teacher half his age and all the parents come to love him, especially the women.
So somebody thought that a sequel (in name only) to Kindergarten Cop was a good idea and ploughed ahead with it, despite the fact that the original was made starring an action star at his peak with a script that played up his interactions with the children to make him a softer character. Kindergarten Cop 2 obviously tries to hit the same beats and, somehow, misses most of them with the only saving grace being Dolph Lundgren who, being a few years past his action hero peak at this point, at least has the comic chops to not make the jokes totally fail.
Of course, we get the small child who seems to know more about private parts than he should do at that age but it is a line shoved in there purely because it was funny the first time round when Miko Hughes said it. However, there is a bit more room here for something slightly different as the liberal nature of the school is played up, resulting in a couple of scenes where Reed has to deal with a peanut allergy and microwaveable food, the healthy sort that a man of his size probably wouldn’t touch, and these are enjoyable enough to warrant a few sniggers as Dolph raises his eyebrows at the right moments and has to deal with rioting children but everything around it feels drastically underwritten or just put in there because we laughed at it 26 years before. And this is before we get to the crime story part of the plot which is just horribly written and doesn’t really feel like it puts Reed or the children in any danger until the final 20 minutes, by which time the one joke that the whole film is built on has seemingly disappeared and there’s nothing left in the tank to drag it to its conclusion.
Both movies look decent enough on Blu-ray, with Kindergarten Cop obviously looking grainier due to its age but Kindergarten Cop 2 does have some scenic shots of Seattle that show off an eye for photography and look very crisp and clear. The first film comes backed with only a trailer whilst Kindergarten Cop 2 has a gag reel, deleted scenes and a ‘making-of’ featurette which doesn’t tell you anything you couldn’t have worked out from watching the film but it does at least appear to have good intentions behind it.
Overall, Kindergarten Cop remains as funny and cute as it was back in 1990 and if your Arnie Blu-ray collection has a gap in it then you’re already likely to pick it up regardless, although a few more extras would have been nice. However, Kindergarten Cop 2 suffers greatly in comparison by reusing jokes where it doesn’t need to, not creating enough new situations to stand on its own and also by containing some of the most awkward and blatant product placement since Mac & Me got sponsored by McDonalds. It isn’t a total train wreck and is probably a little better than the usual DTV sequel but unless you really have a burning desire to see Dolph Lundgren reading from a children’s storybook then this one is probably best marked as absent and avoided.
Flickering Myth Rating – Kindergarten Cop – Film: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★
Flickering Myth Rating – Kindergarten Cop 2 – Film: ★ / Movie: ★ ★