The Sunday Review: Kindergarten Cop

Sunday 14 May (2006)

Well, I don't know what to say. I enjoy watching movies, and I can't afford to buy any at the moment, and I don't have a TV so I'm forced to download them if I want to watch them. The problem is, I am behind several technical restrictions (thank you, University of Gloucestershire) so I can only download from places like Rapidshare, which of course limits me to whatever other people upload and decide to share. It was a particularly dull and desperate day when I chose to download Kindergarten Cop.

Because of the difference in the film censorship boards in the USA and the UK, there are a lot of movies that came out of America in the 80's and 90's that were family movies at heart, but because there was no equivalent of PG-13 on our side of the pond they got classified as a 15. This no doubt led to several movies missing their target demographic and generally not doing very well, but then becoming firm favourites when they made it onto TV – I'm talking about movies like The Goonies and Gremlins, which are fairly mild but contain just one too many 'shit' or perhaps some mild violence or something. Anyway, Kindergarten Cop falls into this category of films – a cutesy thriller which pushes itself a bit too far and alienates itself from its intended audience (at least in England.) Sadly, whilst it has this much in common with The Goonies, Kindergarten Cop is sadly not in quite the same league.

The plot is simple enough; Schwarzenegger is tough-cop Richard Kimble who's been after bad-guy drug dealer Cullen Crisp for years. At some point in the past Crisp's wife left him, taking with her three million dollars of his drug money as well as his only son. The wife has been on the run for years, and no-one knows where she is until one day she's seen in sleepy old Astoria, Oregon, and Crisp is free to come after her to recoup his money.

Now, for some reason, Kimble and his new partner have to go to Astoria and pretend to be kindergarten teachers. It doesn't really make much sense, but apparantly this is the only way to find out who Crisp's son is, which would lead them to his wife, and enable them to take her into protective custody before Crisp finds them. Although Kimble isn't the one who's initially supposed to be going undercover in the school, his partner gets ill and he's forced to take on the role. Despite him having no experience with working with children, the school headmistress lets him work there anyway, and we're treated to the hilarious concept of tough-guy cop meeting his match in troublesome children.

It's just that the gag wears very thin very quickly. There are too many plotholes in the story for one thing, but even if you just suspend your disbelief and go along with it there are still several major flaws here. The dialogue, for one thing, is diabolical. Seeing Schwarzenegger bark military style orders in a loud Austrian accent at a six year-old girl immediately makes you think that she would burst into tears, but not here. In fact he shouts at lots of the kids, routinely, but in true montage style we see him tame the class and become a beloved teacher.

It annoys me just thinking about it. Everything about this movie sucks. I mean, I'm one of Arnie's biggest fans, but even he can't redeem the terrible script and plot. The soundtrack is generic boredom, and the whole thing generally comes across like a bad TV-movie rather than a vehicle for someone who was at the time the biggest movie star in the world. It's a blemish on his record; sandwiched between two of his greatest films – Total Recall and Terminator 2, it's no wonder the only really good thing to come out of this are celebrity prank soundboards making fun of the ridiculous quotes.

Just steer clear of this diabolical wreck. Everyone involved should be ashamed of themselves, because the film had potential to really work – tighten up those plotholes (say, Kimble gets a certificate saying he can work undercover with children – a twenty second addition that makes everything make sense) and you've got a movie. But the thing is, it doesn't know what kind of movie it wants to be. It could be an out and out comedy, and that would be great – but it doesn't do that, with its tainted-heroin death scenes and the gory finale. So make it an out and out action thriller – forget about the stupid American kids and concentrate on the policework. But no.

What a stinking pile of turd.

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2 Responses to “The Sunday Review: Kindergarten Cop”

  1. Huzbo Says:

    Kindergarten Cop is best experienced as a Christmas film on BBC1 at teatime – censored to shreds and making even less sense. The finale is essentially nonexistent, with Kimble marching into the school one moment, and the next thing we know there are a load of blood-splattered corpses everywhere.


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