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Kindergarten Cop is a 1990 American comedy thriller film directed by Ivan Reitman and distributed by Universal Pictures. Arnold Schwarzenegger stars as John Kimble, a tough police detective working undercover as a kindergarten teacher to apprehend drug dealer Cullen Crisp (Richard Tyson) before he can get to his ex-wife and son.
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Ivan Reitman|
|Story by||Murray Salem|
|Music by||Randy Edelman|
|Distributed by||Universal Pictures|
|Box office||$202 million|
While undercover, Kimble discovers his passion for teaching and considers changing his profession to become an educator. Pamela Reed plays his partner, Phoebe O'Hara, and Penelope Ann Miller plays Joyce, the teacher who becomes his love interest. The original music score was composed by Randy Edelman. The film was released in the United States on December 21, 1990.
After years of pursuing drug kingpin Cullen Crisp, LAPD Detective John Kimble arrests him for murder; a witness saw him murder an informant after getting information regarding the whereabouts of his ex-wife, Rachel Myatt Crisp, who allegedly stole millions of dollars from him before fleeing with his son, Cullen Jr. Partnered with former teacher-turned-detective Phoebe O'Hara, Kimble goes undercover in Astoria, Oregon to find Rachel and offer her immunity in exchange for testifying against Crisp in court. To this end, O'Hara must act as a substitute teacher in Cullen Jr's kindergarten class at Astoria Elementary School. O'Hara gets a terrible case of stomach flu, falling ill at the last moment; Kimble takes her place. The suspicious school principal, Miss Schlowski, is convinced he will not last long before quitting. Overwhelmed at first, he adapts quickly to his new status, despite not having any formal teaching experience. With the use of his pet ferret as a class mascot, positive reinforcement, his police training as a model for structure in class and his experience as a father, he becomes a much admired and cherished figure to the students.
Kimble begins to enjoy his undercover role. He deals with a case of child abuse by assaulting and threatening the father, winning Miss Schlowski's favor. In observation of his teaching style, she assures him that even though she does not agree with his methods, she can see that he is a good teacher. He becomes fond of fellow teacher Joyce Palmieri, his student Dominic's mother. She is estranged from her husband and will not speak of him and tells Dominic that he lives in France. Conversing with the gradually more trusting Joyce, Kimble deduces that she is Rachel and that Dominic is Cullen Jr. In California, the case holding Crisp in jail is closed after the witness dies from using tainted cocaine provided by Crisp's mother, Eleanor. He is released from prison and immediately travels to Astoria with Eleanor to search for Cullen Jr. When Kimble learns Crisp has been released, he confronts Rachel about her identity, saying he can protect her if she cooperates.
Outraged that he misled her, she tells him that Crisp lied about her stealing the money to convince drug dealers he knows to help him find her; the real reason was to find Cullen Jr, as he was angry that Rachel disappeared with him. Crisp starts a fire in the library as a distraction to kidnap Cullen Jr but uses him as a hostage when Kimble arrives. Kimble's ferret bites Crisp in the neck, allowing Cullen Jr. to escape; Crisp shoots Kimble in the leg before Kimble fatally shoots Crisp. Outside, Eleanor injures O'Hara with her car before going inside and discovering Crisp dead; she wounds Kimble in the shoulder but an enraged O'Hara appears and vengefully attacks and beats her unconscious with a baseball bat. Eleanor is arrested and the unconscious Kimble is hospitalized with O'Hara, both making a full recovery. She returns to the police force in Los Angeles while he decides to retire, staying in Astoria to become a kindergarten teacher at the school full-time. Rachel joins him and kisses him while everyone cheers.
- Arnold Schwarzenegger as Detective John Kimble
- Penelope Ann Miller as Joyce Palmieri/Rachel Myatt Crisp
- Pamela Reed as Detective Phoebe O'Hara
- Linda Hunt as Miss Schlowski
- Richard Tyson as Cullen Crisp
- Carroll Baker as Eleanor Crisp
- Christian and Joseph Cousins as Dominic Palmieri/Cullen Crisp, Jr.
- Cathy Moriarty as Jillian
- Jayne Brook as Zach's mother
- Park Overall as Samantha's mother
- Richard Portnow as Captain Salazar
- Bob Nelson as Henry Shoop
- Justin Page as Zach Sullivan
- Sarah Rose Karr as Emma
- Adam Wylie as Larry
- Angela Bassett as Stewardess
- Marissa Rosen as Samantha
- Miko Hughes as Joseph
- Ben Diskin as Sylvester
- Ben McCreary as Lowell
- Krystle and Tiffany Mataras as Tina and Rina
- Odette Yustman as Rosa
Director Ivan Reitman and casting director Michael Chinich auditioned more than 2,000 children for the roles of the students.
Universal Studios hired local artists Judith Niland and Carl Lyle Jenkins to paint murals on the walls at Astoria, and provided new playground equipment, a fenced playground, and a new lawn and hedges around the school. Most of the filming was completed after school was out in June 1990 allowing many of the students and faculty to be extras in the film. Students' artwork was also used.
Schwarzenegger's contract stipulated that a private studio for daily workouts and weightlifting be provided for the actor and his personal staff; a suitable studio was located, but when an agreement could not be reached, the actor threatened to pull out of the production. An Astoria business owner stepped in and donated unused commercial space deemed suitable for Schwarzenegger, and the shoot continued.
Also filmed in or near Astoria:
- John and Phoebe stayed at the Bayview Motel, 783 W. Marine Drive. The vintage lodging facility "played itself" in the film.
- Scenes involving John and Phoebe walking to dinner, and Crisp and Eleanor shopping, were filmed on Commercial Street in downtown Astoria.
- The exterior portions of the restaurant scene were filmed outside the Seafare Restaurant at the Red Lion Inn, 400 Industry Street.
- Scenes at Joyce and Dominic's house were filmed at a private residence located at 414 Exchange Street.
- Highway scenes were filmed on U.S. 26 east of Seaside, Oregon, twenty miles from Astoria.
- The school picnic was filmed at Ecola State Park near Cannon Beach, Oregon, twenty five miles south of Astoria.
Information on Astoria area locations are courtesy of the Astoria & Warrenton Area Chamber of Commerce.
Interior school scenes were shot at Universal Studios in Hollywood. The film's opening scene was filmed at the Westfield MainPlace in Santa Ana, California, and South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa, California.
On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a rating of 51% based on 35 reviews. On Metacritic, it has a score of 61 out of 100, based on 15 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews." Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave it an average grade of "A-" on an A+ to F scale. Reviewer Caryn James of The New York Times said, "Like Twins, which was also directed by Ivan Reitman, nothing in the film is as funny as the idea of it."
In Kim Newman's review for Empire, he wrote, "with a heart of purest mush, the film still manages to be generally entertaining" and gave it 3 stars out of 5. An EW.com review at the time of release notes that: "the movie never quite gels and it is not going to generate quite the mega hit business their producers are counting on," giving it a 'C' grade.
Roger Ebert said the film: "is made up of two parts that shouldn't fit, but somehow they do, making a slick entertainment out of the improbable, the impossible and Arnold Schwarzenegger" and awarded it three stars.
On April Fool's Day 2012, as a prank, it was announced that the film was selected for a release on DVD and Blu-ray Disc as part of the Criterion Collection, a video distribution company dedicated to the release of "important classic and contemporary films". It was said to be selected as important in part because of its genre revisionist use of both the policier and family comedy genres in the same film. It was officially released on Blu-ray, though not by Criterion, on July 1, 2014.
Kindergarten Cop grossed $91.4 million in North America, $110.5 in other territories, and $202 million worldwide. It was released in the United Kingdom on February 1, 1991, and topped the country's box office that weekend.
|Kindergarten Cop: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack|
|Film score (Digital download / Audio CD) by|
|Released||August 31, 1993|
|1.||"Astoria School Theme"||1:06|
|3.||"Love Theme (Joyce)"||2:30|
|5.||"Dominic's Theme/A Rough Day"||1:54|
|6.||"The Line Up/Fireside Chat"||2:57|
|8.||"The Kindergarten Cop"||1:27|
|9.||"Poor Cindy/Gettysburg Address"||2:06|
|10.||"A Dinner Invitation"||0:47|
|11.||"Love Theme Reprise"||1:25|
|12.||"A Magic Place"||2:54|
|13.||"Kimble Reveals the Truth"||1:45|
|14.||"The Tower/Everything Is OK"||2:29|
|15.||"Fire at the School"||5:38|
In June 2015, Showbiz 411 announced that Universal Studios' 1440 division was developing a sequel, with Don Michael Paul as director and David H. Steinberg as scriptwriter. The protagonist has an Indian sidekick named Sanjit, and they are searching for a flash drive stolen from the United States Federal Witness Protection Program. The antagonists are now Albanians.
Showbiz 411 suggested a television series was also under consideration. Dolph Lundgren was seen shooting scenes for the film. The sequel, Kindergarten Cop 2, was released direct to DVD in May 2016.
For the video game Silent Hill, parts of Astoria Elementary School from the film were used as reference for the location Silent Hill Elementary School. Several of Schwarzenegger's memorable lines from the film were used in sound boards for prank phone calls that became popular in the early 2000s.
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