It's probably a little worrying that Arnold Schwarzenegger takes over a kindergarten class and starts drilling them like a mini-Hitler Youth project."IT'S NAHT A TUMAH!" is my favourite Arnie quote of all time and Kindergarten Cop is a mildly entertaining flick that he did in the early 90s, when he varied between violent thrillers and family friendly comedies.
He's John Kimble, a cop obsessed with bringing down seedy drug dealer Cullen Crisp (an oily and menacing Richard Tyson) which, for convoluted reasons of necessity, involves him going undercover as a kindergarten teacher to track down Crisp's young son and ex-wife who have been off the radar for five years now. Clearly, why Kimble is at home toting a shotgun and taking down various punks, thugs and drug dealers, dealing with a class of screaming six year olds is a challenge completely out of his league.
The film eschews the obvious gross-out jokes like you expect, such as covering Kimble in child vomit and the like, and instead gets a good deal of humour at contrasting Kimble's man-mountain of a cop against a bunch of innocent six year olds who quickly give him the runaround. Aside from the main child, Dominic, who he bonds with and is annoyingly precocious, what is most interesting about the kids here is that they're terrifyingly literal and straightforward in their understanding of the world and their questioning of it, which ties Kimble in increasing knots of confusion and bewilderment. This makes for some genuinely funny moments as Kimble finds simple bathroom requests and the like way too overpowering for him (I absolutely love Ahnuld's hugely sarcastic "Ha ha ha!" to the kids after he accidentally sits on the classroom piano).
It's all very amusing, but sits at odds with the relatively dark and violent subplot of Crisp tracking down his son - after all, the film climaxes in a bloody shoot-out with explicit shots of bullets ripping into shoulders and stomachs and a baseball bat being used to beat someone up. Arnie is better in the comic scenes than the lovey-dovey stuff with fellow teacher and, as it turns out, ex-wife of Crisp, Penelope Miller; but there's good support from Pamela Reed as his partner and interesting, if inappropriate, incestuous subtext with Crisp and his even-more-evil mother, Carroll Baker.It's one of those films that could only have existed in the odd cultural landscape of the late 80's/early 90's - seriously, Kimble drilling the kids military parade-style is just a little disturbing - and while it descends into gooey sentiment by the end, the funny stuff is genuinely good enough to demand your attention on one of its endless re-runs.