Kindergarten Cop

Arnold Schwarzenegger plays a hard-ass L.A. cop named John Kimble who goes undercover as a kindergarten teacher. The whole thing shouts Hollywood high concept – the kind of movie, like Home Alone and Look Who's Talking Too, that works best as a trailer. Usually the actual movie simply plays out the same gag again and again. But K Cop is more energetic and enjoyable than the rest of that ilk. Writers Murray Salem, Herschel Weingrod and Timothy Harris (it took three of them) even manage a few clever variations on the script's one joke. And Ah-nold – hear me now, believe me later – really is funny.

Facing down thirty rambunctious brats in the classroom, the big guy hits them with one of his patented Austrian-accented one-liners: "I'm the pah-ty pooper." It's like watching the Terminator host Sesame Street. Very little in this family comedy makes sense, especially the inclusion of violence and kinky sexual innuendoes. What makes chunks of it such frisky fun is Schwarzenegger's obvious delight in acting silly. He has an easy rapport with the tykes, and as long as the movie stays in school, it earns high marks for drawing smiles and dodging schmaltz with dexterity. But, oh, that plot. A director with a defter touch than Ivan Reitman's might have sped through the exposition that moves Kimble from California to a school in Oregon. Kimble and his partner, smartly played by Pamela Reed, are trying to jail a killer named Crisp (Richard Tyson) by finding the wife who ran away from him five years ago, taking along their infant son. The wife's testimony could put the creep away.

Though Reitman's pace is sluggish, the film is sparked by several vigorous supporting performers, including Linda Hunt as the school principal, Carroll Baker as the killer's psychotic mother and Penelope Ann Miller as the dewy school-marm who falls for Kimble without knowing his real identity. But this is Schwarzenegger's show. Whenever he breaks free of a script that is shackled to banalities, the jumbo star delivers jumbo laughs.

From The Archives Issue 596: January 24, 1991
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