Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and directed by Ivan Reitman (who later found acclaim with the critically applauded Up in the Air) Kindergarten Cop, is for me, a film that immediately evokes fond memories of my childhood. The film is unashamedly unsubtle in its manipulations: featuring entirely sympathetic leads and simplistic, almost caricatured villains.
Schwarzenegger stars as detective John Kimble, who is compelled to work as an undercover school teacher in order to expose long-time adversary Cullen Crisp, a drug dealer who has recently got away with a murder charge. Kimble initially struggles in this role, but quickly adapts and thrives.
I have, over the years, watched Kindergarten Cop on numerous occasions. Each viewing brings with it a slightly different experience as both my circumstances and my age changes. My earliest viewings as a child, brought much hilarity at the cute children who initially cause Kimble so many problems. Thinking back to these viewings, I struggle to remember my awareness of the full narrative: certainly I didn’t understand the drug story line, merely viewing Crisp and his mother as the ‘bad-guys’. Rewatching the film recently, I was surprised to note how violent the opening of the film is, it’s tone starkly different to the cutesy moments in the classroom. I too noted, the rather dark moment in the narrative involving a young child living with a physically domineering father as a moment that feels almost jarring in relation to the rest of the film.
That is not to critique Reitman’s film. Kindergarten Cop may be entirely manipulative in it’s feel-good aims, but that doesn’t make it any less of a feel-good film. Kimble’s joy and recognition of a potential new career path is wholly convincing, as too, is his relationship and attraction to Joyce (Crisp’s estranged wife). It always feels rather wonderful to return to a film that was much-loved and enjoyed when you were younger and to find some semblance of the same love and pleasure that you found in them previously.