Saturday, 7 September 2013
Movie Review: Kindergarten Cop (1990)
An enjoyable light-weight thriller with large doses of pointy comedy and some low-key romance, Kindergarten Cop established Arnold Schwarzenegger as a major cross-genre star.
With Rachel living under an unknown assumed identity, Kimble inserts himself into the local elementary school as a substitute kindergarten teacher, much to the dismay of principal Schlowski (Linda Hunt), and sets about trying to identify which of the kids may be Cullen Jr. There are plenty of candidates, and as Kimble finds his feet as a teacher and learns to deal with the kids, the community warms up to him, and he starts a tentative romance with Joyce (Penelope Ann Miller), another teacher at the school. Egged on by his obsessed mother Eleanor, Crisp also makes his way to Astoria, aiming to abduct his son and take revenge on his ex-wife.
Despite the film's schizophrenic personality, director Ivan Reitman is able to maintain good control. Working from a script by Murray Salem, Herschel Weingrod and Timothy Harris filled with sharp one-liners and some genuinely funny words coming out of the kids' mouth, Reitman delivers a zippy, entertaining film. Kindergarten Cop does not have a dull moment, with the story moving briskly to set-up the premise, Schwarzenegger having his classroom fun and courtship with Miller's schoolteacher, all leading to a dramatic climax at the school. The scenes of violence at an elementary school are relatively benign in terms of harm to kids, but remain quite disturbing in the context of more recent real events.
As for Schwarzenegger himself, Twins (1988) had established the potential for a range wider than pure action, and here he slips into whatever persona each individual scene requires. From kick-ass undercover cop in the opening 20 minutes to the doofus in the classroom matching wits with elementary kids, to the unsure man falling first in like then in love with a fellow teacher, Schwarzenegger demonstrates workable versatility and broadening ambition.
Kindergarten Cop graduates into grade school maybe not at the top of the class, but certainly with honours.
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