Sunday, June 15, 2014
LA detective John Kimble (Schwarzenegger) has been trying to nail Cullen Crisp (Richard Tyson), a nasty drug dealer with an even nastier mother (Carroll Baker). When Kimble learns that Crisp's ex-wife absconded with $3 million in drug money and their young son to a small town in Oregon, he and his partner Phoebe (Pamela Reed) head there to locate the ex and convince her to testify against Crisp. The plan is for Phoebe, a former teacher, to work undercover in the kindergarten class to locate the son, but when she falls sick with food poisoning, Kimble must step in and pose as the teacher (good thing this movie was made before everyone was online; otherwise all the parents would be wondering after a quick Google search why a police officer with no teaching credentials would be allowed in a classroom).
The first act of the film demonstrates Kimble is a determined, effective, crass cop when he pursues Crisp through a mall and then tracks a witness to a crack house ("I'm da the party pooper," he declares after a blast with his shotgun). We also see how he easily little kids annoy him; he demonstrates this on an airplane, breaking a pencil in two and telling the kid who keeps kicking his seat that he'll do the same to him if he keeps it up. Then, Arnold gets to the class and discovers he is ill-prepared for dealing with a bunch of little kids.
These are some wild and crazy kids, and Arnold has no idea, at first, how to control them. They run rampant through the room, steal each other's lunches, climb on desks, hoot, holler, cry about having to go to the bathroom, and make a mess with the art supplies until Arnold can take no more. Sure, it's an obvious setup - the action star confronting normal, everyday problems - but Kindergarten Cop is probably the best of this cheesy cinematic sub-genre. Seeing the interaction between Arnold and these tykes is pretty funny and at times even sweet (especially when Arnold explains to them how a divorce doesn't mean a father no longer loves his children).
Tyson and Baker are effective, respectively sleazy and domineering but equally narcissistic, although this does get back to the central contradiction of the movie. The kindergarten material has scenes of Arnold and the kids bonding, interacting, and being silly, and this is all rather cutesy. But the crime stuff has drug dealing, murders, autopsies, kidnappings, arson, child and spousal abuse, and other material that's definitely not appropriate for children. Again, I ask: who was this movie made for?
I posed that question on my Facebook wall the day after I watched the movie. The responses from my friends included "Ferret Lovers," "Dale Schmidlapp of Sioux Falls, Iowa," and "It's not made for a tumor." My friend Mike wrote, "Schwarzenegger fans who cherish every dumb line that comes out of his mouth," to which I responded "That really should be all of us."
Kindergarten Cop is sort of the epitome of a Schwarzennegger movie. It's loud, violent, cheesy, action-packed, silly, funny, intense, and better made than most people probably give it credit for. Maybe as a whole, it's not a "good" movie, but it is loaded with entertaining scenes that demonstrate all things about Arnold we love. If the sight of a bug-eyed, gap-toothed Arnold Schwarzennegar screaming at the top of his lungs at a group of kindergartners is not considered entertainment by you, I don't know what else to say.