Film / Kindergarten Cop

"Who is your daddy and what does he do?"

Kindergarten Cop is one of Arnold Schwarzenegger's earlier comedic roles, following his comedy debut in Twins.

Arnold plays Detective John Kimble, a cop trying to put away drug dealer Cullen Crisp. Hoping to locate Crisp's estranged wife and son in order to draft them as witnesses, and having no information about them except the name of the school where the son goes, Kimble goes with his partner to find them. Initially it is his partner who is supposed to teach the kindergarten children with Kimble as the muscle, but when she gets food poisoning on the journey, Kimble has to do it.

Hilarity Ensues when tough guy Arnold turns out to be completely unprepared to take on the challenge of babysitting five-year-olds. Meanwhile, Crisp gets released from prison and sets out to find his family...

While the film was not what everybody expected thanks to deceitful trailers, it helped to type-cast Arnold as an action-movie actor, and was a box office success, grossing over $90 million on a $11m budget, good for the top-10 box office of 1990.

This film provides examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: One moody child that Kimble suspects of being Crisp's son turns out instead to have a different father, and an abusive one at that. Kimble beats the living crud out of him (the boy's father, not the boy). Crisp doesn't come off too well, either; despite his claim to love his son, he aggressively kidnaps his son and then holds him hostage at gunpoint once cornered, although he could be bluffing if he does genuinely loves his son.
  • Action-Hero Babysitter: Arnold Schwarzenegger as a cop going undercover in a kindergarten.
  • Affably Evil: Crisp. He's devoted to his mother, he does want his son in his life, and he even tries to buy the toy he wanted for Dominic off a customer by offering more than what the guy bought it for (of course, he knocked the man out when he refused, but then again, he's affably EVIL).
  • Alas, Poor Villain: Cullen Crisp really did want his son in his life and died trying to desperately accomplished that, failing to realized his ex-wife and son refuses because of his criminal background and he does not respect their wishes to leave them alone.
  • Alliterative Name: Cullen Crisp, Dominic's criminal father, and Dominic himself, born Cullen Crisp Junior.
  • Arson Murder And Life Saving: The principal gives Kimble this speech after he beats said crud out of said parent (see above).
  • Badass Teacher
  • Becoming the Mask: During his cover, John really begins to grow close to his kindergarten students.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Kimble's partner saves him from Crisp's psycho mother; the mother had run her over with the car right before the climax.
  • Big Eater: Det. O'Hara. Done with extra humor as she's so small.
  • Big "Shut Up!": Kimble does this to a room of kids (pictured), followed by a few smaller shut ups. Naturally, he makes the kids cry, which drives him to run outside and deliver a Skyward Scream of frustration. Its probably the most memorable scene in the movie.
  • Blown Across the Room
  • Bond One-Liner: "You're not so tough without your car, are ya?"
  • The Cake Is a Lie: Joyce never stole 3 million from Crisp: it was just an excuse for various people to track down Joyce so that Crisp could find Dominic.
  • Car Fu: Kimble's partner gets hit by Eleanor Crisp's car.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The ferret. Don't worry, it won't bite you.
  • Chewing the Scenery: SHUT UUUUUUUUUUUUUUP!!!!!
  • Chew Out Fake Out: Arnold beats the snot out of a man who's been beating his kid. The Principal takes Arnie into her office, and he expects her to throw him out of the school. But regarding the beating, the only thing she has to say is to ask how good it felt to "hit that son of a bitch."
  • Children Are Innocent: Played for laughs when the child of a gynecologist talks about private parts and doesn't see anything wrong with it.
  • Cowboy Cop: Kimble before he has to go undercover as a kindergarten teacher. He roughs up suspects, pumps a rathole apartment full of holes with his shotgun, beats up people in the street and owns a pet ferret in California, even though it's illegal.
  • Creepy Child: One of the kids is a boy who is constantly talking about death and dying in a very unemotional voice. And this is Played for Laughs.
  • Cut Himself Shaving: One child explains his fresh bruises every day by saying "I fell down."
  • Da Chief: Or in this case, Da Principal. She doesn't warm up to Kimble until the incident where he beats up the abusive father.
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: Cullen Crisp is a total mama's boy. Of course, his mom is just as bad as him.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Crisp genuinely loves his son. (Though he'll still hold him hostage if forced to.)
  • Evil Matriarch: Eleanor Crisp, good god.
  • Fish out of Water
  • Follow the Leader: Every movie in the past twenty years that pairs an action star with a bunch of annoyingly cute kids has this movie to thank for its existence.
  • Freudian Excuse: It's not hard to see why Cullen Crisp is so screwed up, considering what his mother is like. But he's such a greasy jerk you really don't feel sorry for him.
    • It's implied that the reason John is uneasy with the idea of being around kids is because it just reminds him he's not with his son anymore.
  • Friend to All Children: John eventually grows into one during his cover as a kindergarten teacher.
  • From the Mouths of Babes: The one kid in the class who keeps saying "Boys have a penis, girls have a vagina..."
    • The Twin Girls (in unison): "Our mom says our dad's a real sex machine."
  • Generic Cop Badges: When Kimble arrests Cullen in the beauty salon, he is not wearing a uniform. It's a total win for reality that the security guards call his badge in to verify its authenticity. Considering that Kimble looks like a scruffy, insane vigilante, any guard worth their salt would.
  • Good Cop/Bad Cop: Kimble and his partner trying to turn a witness on Crisp.
  • Good Is Not Nice: Kimble, until the kids soften him up.
  • Gratuitous German: Arnie says, "Das macht mich stinksauer! Jetzt bin ich sauer!" (That makes me really angry! Now I'm angry!) when he has to carry his sick partner (who's largely responsible for her own condition) inside.
  • HAHAHA–No: When the kids laugh at Kimble accidentally sitting on piano keys, he retorts, "Ha ha ha ha... QUIET."
  • Have You Told Anyone Else?: A subtle blink-and-you'll-miss-it example, but Crisp delivers one of these to the informant before gunning him down in the mall.
  • Hero Insurance: Kimble evidently took out a bit of this due to his being an undercover cop.
  • I'm a Doctor, Not a Placeholder: "I'm not a policeman; I'm a princess!"
  • Interrupted Intimacy: Kimble walks in on his partner having sex with her fiancée, thinking she is getting attacked.
  • Hit The Son Of A Bitch: This term is used in regards to Kimble decking the abusive father of one of his students.
  • The Klutz: Phoebe's fiancé, Henry Shoop. He's only in two scenes and is a walking disaster area in both.
  • Large Ham: Kimble, given that when Arnold needs to show emotion, it's never subtle.
  • Mood Whiplash: The principal pretends to throw a punch herself, still bathing in the afterglow of John beating the crap out of the abusive father. It's a cute and funny scene and oh holy shit, did they just cut to a corpse's face?! The juxtaposition is jarring, to say the least.
    • There's also the genuine joy on Crisp's face when he sees his son for the first time in ages, a stark contrast to the bastard we've been seeing throughout the film. Then the mood switches again later when he points a gun to his own son's head and any sympathy he got from you before flies out the window.
    • The start of the movie plays out like a generic Arnie movie, with him as a maverick cop, and then switches to a family comedy. Near the end, it veers back into suspense/action territory.
  • Ms. Exposition: Cindy. The girl delivers a very quick setup at the very beginning as the guy pushes her into the hiding place — he already knows what he's going to tell Cullen, so there's really no reason she should be saying this to him except to fill the audience in.
    Girl: I mean, his wife took his kid and a couple of million...
  • My Beloved Smother: Mama Cullen's overbearing behavior explains a lot about how her son turned out.
  • Papa Wolf: "You hit the kid, I hit you."
    • Kimble's showdown with Cullen, which includes him kidnapping poor Dominic and Kimble going after him.
  • Real Men Hate Sugar: John Kimble is visibly gargling at the taste of the sweet fruit jelly that the orderlies fed him as he lies bedridden in hospital. His visiting partner Phoebe points this out to the nurse.
    Phoebe: Nah, he doesn't wanna eat that. He's a tough guy. Tough guys don't eat jello.
    • They fed him Jello, never mind the fact that his arms worked just fine. Of course, since he didn't want to eat it, the nurse was probably making him.
  • Red Herring: Zach Sullivan, the abused kid, was the one Kimble suspected of being Cullen's kid. It's actually Dominic, son of Joyce the schoolteacher. Also, Joyce never stole from Cullen in the first place.
  • Red Shirt: Danny, the informant at the start of the film.
  • Ridiculously Cute Critter: The ferret.
  • Silence, You Fool!: SHUT UUUUUUUUUUUUUUP!!!!!
  • Single-Minded Twins: The twin girls in Kimble's class (see From the Mouths of Babes above).
  • Skyward Scream: Arnold screams towards the heavens after the kids frustrate him again by crying.
  • Stern Teacher: Kimble finally settles on this as a teaching style. It works for him, being over six feet tall.
  • Trailers Always Lie: The trailer tries to fool you into thinking that there's just going to be a few introductory action scenes to ensure you know Kimble's a tough guy, before a movie full of jolly japes about him being overwhelmed by 5 year olds. It's not. The film is better described as an action drama, with emotional scenes of Kimble missing his own son and falling for a teacher, and a violent drug dealer wanting his son back at any costs.
    • To hammer this point home: When Siskel and Ebert reviewed it on their show, they strongly stressed to parents to take the PG-13 rating seriously. Despite the kindergartners present, it's really not a film for little kids at all.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Crisp goes through this after feeling heartbroken that his son does not recognize him. He resorts to aggressively kidnapping him and holding him at gunpoint (even though he could be bluffing), while stating to Kimble in a grief stricken frustration that he's his boy, completely dropping his Affably Evil act that he's been putting up to the point he finally sees his son in the film.
  • Villains Out Shopping: After Crisp and his mother are reunited, there's a sequence in which they gather necessary items for once they get Dominic back. Crisp buys a toy for Dominic (by knocking out a fellow customer who refused to re-sell it to him), and the mother and son bicker about her barrage of medication she buys for the kid (including a rectal thermometer and an enema bag).
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Once Danny tells Crisp everything he wants to know near the beginning of the movie, he gets hit with this trope.