They don’t make movies like Kindergarten Cop anymore. The movie tows the line between action-star vehicle and high-concept comedy and for the most part, does this very well. It helps that there are cute, adorable children to bring the laughs. It also helps that the action-star in question is Arnold Schwarzenegger.
This is vintage Arnie. Schwarzenegger at the height of his Hollywood power, where he could deliver a one-liner effortlessly but also play the fool well enough to be a likeable comedy star too. In Kindergarten Cop he balances both perfectly. The opening of the movie sees him in full “bad-ass cop” mode, with cool shades, stubble and a large gun, brooding down a shopping mall to catch the villain. The rest of the movie sees him pretending to be a Kindergarten teacher, massively out of his depth but clearly relishing the comedy aspect of the role.
The comedy aspect does work. Seeing these kids giving Arnie the complete run-around is very funny. The comedy isn’t exactly clever and a lot of it is about a muscle-bound hero having to find his sensitive side, which is fairly out of date today, but once the cutest kids say the funniest things, you are on-board. The film does that classic 90s trope of forgetting the action for the mid-section and focusing on the funnies as well, giving Schwarzenegger’s Kimble a love interest, having him get better as a teacher and eventually paying-off all the in-jokes, minor moments and huge “twist” with an action-packed finale.
When it does return to the action, again, this is done well. Movies like Kindergarten Cop would be squarely aimed at the 12a market today but there is slightly more edge to these action roles and it wouldn’t be a shock if it was released as a 15 back in the 90s. Anyone who has seen any 90s action movie has seen the action-beats in this film before though, that isn’t necessarily a negative however.
The main issue with Kindergarten Cop is that time and logic haven’t been kind to the movie. The whole plot is based on a silly and very implausible situation that just wouldn’t happen. It is always worth suspending your disbelief with any high-concept film and there will always be plot-holes to be found, but the idea of allowing an untrained cop to pretend to be a Kindergarten teacher is one-step too far. It also doesn’t help that as cool and funny as some of the moments are, it is a constant reminder of how silly the whole film really is.
Overall, Kindergarten Cop is a classic Arnie vehicle, combining action and comedy to good effect. The comedy comes from a good place and there is plenty to enjoy here but you do have to look past a fairly silly and frankly implausible plot-point too really get behind it.
Rating – 3.5
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