A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Kindergarten Cop is a hybrid of slapstick comedy, character comedy, and the story of a violent, obsessed killer on the loose. Scenes of adorable little kids connecting with their unusually muscle-bound new teacher and his pet ferret are framed by gunfire and suspense and culminate in scenes with children in danger. Action includes (spoiler alerts): point-blank killings, a father holding his son hostage with a gun to his head, a little boy precariously hanging from a tower, and gunfire in a school. Numerous fistfights, head bashings, and a car purposefully hitting a lead character are among other violent sequences. The film is peppered with salty language, including "son of a bitch," "goddamn," "s--t," "ass," "penis" "vagina," and more. Several of the kindergarten kids are children of divorce; some of their stories may be unsettling to sensitive viewers. A bizarre relationship between the killer and his mother (with sexual overtones), a warm kiss between lovers, and a silly scene in which a couple having sex are interrupted account for the sexual content. Drugs are referenced; the villain is a narcotics dealer, and we see a motley assortment of his young people who appear to be under the influence. It's an unusual hybrid, but it works, so long as the kids who watch it are old enough to emotionally fuse the fun and the shoot-'em-up elements.
What's the story?
John Kimble (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is a kick-butt undercover cop on a mission in KINDERGARTEN COP, having been assigned to pose as the husband of a female cop/grade school teacher, a turn of events that forces him to shed his machine gun and trench coat for a sport coat and pet ferret. The enormous educator must identify a drug lord's missing wife and her son before he catches up with them.
Is it any good?
The movie succeeds wildly in its attempt to soften an action star via the addition of his delightful relationships with captivating kindergarten kids. Despite its goofy premise, Ivan Reitman's thoroughly engaging film is filled with fine performances, a story that makes sense, and terrific comic timing. Reitman (and perhaps Schwarzenegger, too) must be adept at bringing out the best in children, because each and every one of them is delightful; twins Joseph and Christian Cousins as Dominic will melt your heart. And, in a surprising portrayal, Schwarzenegger parlays his brawn into compassion. Pamela Reed is impressive as a very funny cop with smarts and skills, and she's not afraid to look ridiculous either. Linda Hunt as the school principal and Penelope Anne Miller are wonderful as well. Overall, if audiences are old enough and wise enough to keep the over-the-top action and killing in perspective, the film provides suspense, great fun, and even a little romance.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about nonviolent conflict resolution with younger kids. How do John's skills as a police officer help him maintain order in his classroom? Parents may want to reassure their children of their safety.
Made in 1990, the character of policewoman Phoebe O'Hara was an important role model at a time when there were not many women police officers. Which qualities did she have that made her successful in her job?
Arnold Schwarzenegger was a major action star. Were you surprised by the gentle nature of his character here, Mr. Kimble, and what he learned about himself? How did this role change Schwarzenegger's image for audiences?
- In theaters: December 22, 1990
- On DVD or streaming: January 20, 1998
- Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Pamela Reed, Penelope Ann Ann Miller
- Director: Ivan Reitman
- Studio: Universal Pictures
- Genre: Comedy
- Topics: Friendship, Misfits and underdogs
- Run time: 111 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: Violence, Language
Themes & Topics
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.