Kindergarten Cop (1990)

“Who is your daddy and what does he do?”

Dir. Ivan Reitman

Runtime: 111 minutes

Rating: PG

Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Penelope Ann Miller, Pamela Reed, Richard Tyson, Linda Hunt

Two years after working together in “Twins” (1988), the director star combo of Ivan Reitman and Arnold Schwarzenegger worked together on another family friendly a comedy, this time with a little more action thrown in too.  


After years of work, Detective John Kimble (Arnie) finally gets his man, infamous drug dealer Cullen Crisp (Richard Tyson). In order to get more dirty on the scum bag, Kimble’s partner Phoebe (Pamela Reed) is due to go undercover at a school where it is believed that Crisp’s estranged wife Rachel (Penelope Ann Miller) takes her son too. Rachel apparently fled with her son and million’s of dollars when she found out about Crisp and things became difficult for a normal family life. On the eve of the deployment, Phoebe is ill and can’t go undercover. This leave Kimble with no choice but to do the job himself. An obvious fish out of water, Kimble has no experience with kids and doesn’t look very kid friendly but he gradually wins the suspicious school principle (miss Schlowski – Linda Hunt) over. His methods may not be conventional, but he kids are safe and happy. Over time Kinble also gets friendly with fellow teacher Joyce (Miller again), whose son Dominic is in his class (played by Christian and Joseph Cousins).

Meanwhile, Crisp is released thanks to his mother tainting the evidence and getting at potential witnesses. This posses a problem as he’ll obviously go after his estranged wife and their son. Kimble has to work fast to find out where and who she is, while protecting his kindergarten class, and in fact the whole school too.

… or… here’s a summary in 180 characters or less

Muscle-bound cop goes undercover in kindergarten school.

Arnie is decent enough without ever really excelling in this. It’s one of those fish-out-of-water films, with this the whole premise of the film is Arnie working with kids. He’s a brick-shithouse of a cop who doesn’t look very ‘kid friendly’ and at the start of the film he doesn’t have any experience or desire of kids. Throughout the film expectations crumble as Kimble learns to adapt, and despite unconventional methods, he wins over, kids, colleagues, and parents. Like “Twins” it’s initially a visual set-up or gag, that, give time, eventually runs a different direction telling the audience that they shouldn’t have judged a book by it’s cover.

In this film Arnie is graced with some great dialogue which is very quotable, something that he gets a lot as the scripts are often adapted for him. I remember dialogue from this being used in prank phone call videos in the early 2000’s – oh the joy of hearing somebody confronted with some of the following lines:

“We’re going to play a wonderful game.”

“Who is my daddy and what does he do?” “

(Detective John Kimble)

“I’m a cop, you idiot! I’m Detective John Kimble!”

“There is no bathroom!”

(Detective John Kimble)
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 48b66b2357d17acbe1b9860ad7916713.gif

“You hit a kid, I hit you.”

“Stop whining! You kids are soft. You lack discipline.”

(Detective John Kimble)

While the film is OK but just OK in my opinion. I never really thought it would be a classic. It balances a fine line between family friendly, action, and comedy. There isn’t that much action throughout, it’s just really sandwiches the film together at start and end. Although not much in quantity, when it gets going, the action is quite intense, which is complete contrast to the nicey-niceness of the film as a whole. The idea of the film is funnier than the comedy within the film so it’s far from being a laugh-a-minute. So by that, it’s definitely more of a family friendly film which has Arnie interacting with kids that occasionally act cute or funny.

The films heart is in the right place – but for me it’s not a solid entry into either the Reitman or Schwarzenegger catalogue. Some people like it, but I’d happily skip this and rather watch a proper Reitman great like “Ghostbusters” (1984), or for Arnie, I’d sooner watch his other 1990 release of “Total Recall”.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 6/10

P.S. Have you seen the sequel with Dolph Lundgren in – “Kindergarten Cop 2” (2016)? Probably not as it went straight to DVD and hasn’t received much praise on online review sites.

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