Thursday, November 1, 2012

It's not a tumor!

Kindergarten Cop (1990)Another fond favorite and I'm not sure how much of my enjoyment of it is looking back on it with rose-colored glasses since I've not watched this one in at least 10 years.  I remember this being hugely anticipated at the time coming so closely to Twins being a breakout hit, but I don't remember it quite as fondly as Twins. 

It's still a very fun movie and yet another good use of Arnold playing against type by putting him in a strange situation.  I found the beginning of the movie where he's chasing down Stereotypical Bland Bad Guy to be rather disjointed and a little off-putting.  I understand the need to establish Arnold as a tough cop who's been chasing Stereotypical Bland Bad Guy for a long time, but they didn't really do much with it.  Granted, it's fun to see Arnold with a beard and tearing around the same mall from Commando, but I keep getting the feeling they're trying too hard to be both gritty and wink-and-nod at the same time and it makes it a bit of a mess.  Probably why I'd forgotten most of this part because it's unfortunately a complete throw-away while waiting to get the the meat of the movie.  Would have been much more effective if we just had a quick 5 minute chase scene and then had Stereotypical Bland Bad Guy kill Arnold's partner and end the scene with a nasty look from Arnold or something.  We're not watching this movie for the crime drama angle.

Thankfully we don't waste too much time on the intro and quickly enough get Arnold in front of The Demons of Kindergarten and that's where the real magic kicks in.  Rather than just have Arnold be cuddly from the beginning, it's very fun to see him losing it when he can't control the kids for more than a couple of minutes.  Some excellent expressions by him here, peaking with an awesome scene where he finds a kid eating everyone else's lunches, picks him up and berates him, then just drops him to the side.  As a parent now, I do have that quick moment of "Child abuse!" but it's still damn funny and I'll allow it.

If they had stopped here and just had him be a gritty cop out of place, it would have been a funny movie, but it wouldn't have been memorable.  The genius of Ivan Reitman comes through again by giving us a sweet side to the story as well and, as Arnold gets to know the kids and finally connects and has some success with them, you can't help but be pulled in with him.  As he did with Twins, he again shows some really nice acting chops when he's acting sweet and he's completely believable in those moments, enough that I find myself rooting for him to stay at the school because he's so obviously happy there.  What the hell am I doing caring about whether one of Arnold's characters stays as a kindergarten teacher?  The mind boggles, but that's how well these scenes play. 

Ultimately the movie reaches it's predictable conclusion as Stereotypical Bland Bad Guy dies a bloody death with bonus points for having it happen right in front of his son.  Arnold and Random Hot Teacher Chick wind up together, he decides to remain a teacher, and presumably his police pension will help cover his son's extensive future counseling needs.  But we're not watching this one for the plot.  It's serviceable enough that it gives some structure and opportunities for Arnold to do his thing. 

Ahnold Quotient - 8

Even though this isn't a standard Arnold movie, there's still plenty of Ahnold to be had.  They're definitely playing up his accent and I swear it's been getting stronger over his last few movies, so I have to think that's intentional.  We are given plenty of bad-ass moments so that ups the overall quotient, even if they're mostly distracting here.  But this movie wouldn't work without playing up Arnold's size and supposed lack of tenderness and both are used to excellent effect.

Rewatchability - Sure

Hopefully I'll not let another 10 years go by before I watch it again.  For a pure Arnold comedy, I'd go back to Twins first because the whole movie works a little better than this, but this is definitely one of my favorite Arnold movies.  Perhaps I should just skip the first 20 minutes and enjoy it more.

Up next - T2!!  About to enter the Era of Arnold where his movies were huuuugely hyped and he was bigger than life.  Pity about the misfire of Last Action Hero, but another Cameron masterpiece coming up after that with True Lies!

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