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Kindergarten Cop is a 1990 American comedy thriller film directed by Ivan Reitman and distributed by Universal Pictures.[4] 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.

Kindergarten Cop
Kindergarten Cop film.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byIvan Reitman
Produced by
Screenplay by
  • Murray Salem
  • Herschel Weingrod
  • Timothy Harris
Story byMurray Salem
Music byRandy Edelman
CinematographyMichael Chapman
Edited by
Distributed byUniversal Pictures
Release date
  • December 21, 1990 (1990-12-21)
Running time
111 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
Budget$26 million[2]
Box office$202 million[3][4]

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.[4]


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.




Bill Murray was approached to play the role of John Kimble.[5]

Director Ivan Reitman and casting director Michael Chinich auditioned more than 2,000 children for the roles of the students.[6]

Filming locationsEdit

Exterior scenes at Astoria Elementary School were filmed at John Jacob Astor Elementary School, located at 3550 Franklin Avenue in Astoria, Oregon.[7]

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[8] allowing many of the students and faculty to be extras in the film.[9] 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.[10]

Interior school scenes were shot at Universal Studios in Hollywood.[7] The film's opening scene was filmed at the Westfield MainPlace in Santa Ana, California, and South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa, California.[7]


On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a rating of 51% based on 35 reviews.[11] On Metacritic, it has a score of 61 out of 100, based on 15 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews."[12] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave it an average grade of "A-" on an A+ to F scale.[13] 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."[14]

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.[15] An 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.[16]

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.[17]

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.[18] It was officially released on Blu-ray, though not by Criterion, on July 1, 2014.

Box officeEdit

Kindergarten Cop grossed $91.4 million in North America, $110.5 in other territories, and $202 million worldwide.[3][4] It was released in the United Kingdom on February 1, 1991, and topped the country's box office that weekend.[19]


Kindergarten Cop: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Film score (Digital download / Audio CD) by
ReleasedAugust 31, 1993
LabelVarese Sarabande

Track listingEdit

1."Astoria School Theme"1:06
2."Children's Montage"3:21
3."Love Theme (Joyce)"2:30
4."Stalking Crisp"3:40
5."Dominic's Theme/A Rough Day"1:54
6."The Line Up/Fireside Chat"2:57
7."Rain Ride"1:55
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
Total length:34:48


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.[20] Dolph Lundgren was seen shooting scenes for the film.[21] The sequel, Kindergarten Cop 2, was released direct to DVD in May 2016.[22]


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.[23] 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.[24][25]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Kindergarten Cop (15)". British Board of Film Classification. 25 January 1991. Retrieved March 28, 2019.
  2. ^ "Kindergarten Cop (1990)". The Numbers. Retrieved March 28, 2019.
  3. ^ a b Broeske, Pat H. (January 8, 1991). "WEEKEND BOX OFFICE : Moviegoers Go for the Laughs". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 11, 2011.
  4. ^ a b c d "Kindergarten Cop". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved September 17, 2015.
  5. ^ Evans, Bradford (17 February 2011). "The Lost Roles of Bill Murray". Retrieved 25 May 2015.
  6. ^ King, Susan (December 21, 1990). "Ivan Reitman, 'Kindergarten Cop's' Top Sergeant". The Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 25 April 2016. Retrieved December 2, 2010.
  7. ^ a b c "Filming locations for Kindergarten Cop". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved June 21, 2009.
  8. ^ "Schwarzenegger film scenes set in Astoria". Eugene Register-Guard. Associated Press. May 25, 1990. p. 13D.
  9. ^ "An Oregon principal is the real Kindergarten Cop". People. 35 (2). January 21, 1991. Retrieved July 6, 2013.
  10. ^ Astoria & Warrenton Area Chamber of Commerce
  11. ^ "Kindergarten Cop". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster.
  12. ^ "Kindergarten Cop". Metacritic. CBS. Retrieved October 30, 2011.
  13. ^ "CinemaScore".
  14. ^ James, Caryn (December 21, 1990). "Kindergarten Cop (1990)". The New York Times. Retrieved October 30, 2011.
  15. ^ "Kindergarten Cop". Empire. Retrieved October 30, 2011.
  16. ^ Gleiberman, Owen (December 21, 1990). "Kindergarten Cop (1990)". Retrieved October 30, 2011.
  17. ^ Ebert, Roger (December 21, 1990). "Kindergarten Cop (PG-13)". Retrieved March 30, 2018.
  18. ^ Davis, Edward (April 2, 2012). "Yesterday's Best April Fool's Day Joke: Criterion's Upcoming Release Of 'Kindergarten Cop'". Penske Business Media, LLC. Retrieved March 30, 2018.
  19. ^ "Weekend box office 1st February 1991 - 3rd February 1991". Retrieved 30 December 2016.
  20. ^ Friedman, Roger (June 9, 2015). "Reboot: "KIndergarten Cop" (Without Arnold) Headed Back to Big Screen With Indian Sidekick". Show Biz 411.
  22. ^ Menjivar, J. Carlos. "Kindergarten Cop 2 (2016)". Popzara. Pippo Publishing, LLC. Retrieved 13 January 2018.
  23. ^ "Silent Hill". VGFacts. Retrieved 2017-12-10.
  24. ^ "Meghan McCain's Blogette". 27 March 2008. Retrieved 13 January 2018.
  25. ^ "See First Trailer of 'Kindergarten Cop 2' With Dolph Lundgren". The Epoch Times. 16 February 2016. Retrieved 13 January 2018.

External linksEdit