Kindergarten Cop

Movie review by
Kelly Kessler, Common Sense Media
Kindergarten Cop Movie Poster Image
Popular with kidsParents recommend
Terminator meets Mother Goose; lots of violence, profanity.
  • PG-13
  • 1990
  • 111 minutes

Parents say

age 11+
Based on 13 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 37 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Encourages being open to new experiences. Shows importance of trust, honesty, teamwork, and loyalty. Values moving on from mistakes and being willing to start fresh.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Aside from the bad guys, the film features several positive role models. An aggressive, socially inept cop learns to work with others, care for children, and find love. His partner is portrayed as a strong, intelligent female police officer. Some ethnic diversity.


Several suspenseful and violent sequences. Opening shows point-blank killing of a young man, establishing the ferocity of the film's villain. Characters carry and wield pistols and shotguns in a school, in a salon, in a bar, and while stalking innocents. Fights include a man punching a woman, men in fistfights, bashing a head into a car window, purposefully running down a woman with a car. A man sets fire to a school library, terrifying children and setting off chaos, gunfire, and death. A father holds a little boy hostage with a gun to his head. That same boy watches as a policeman shoots and kills his dad. A dead woman's face is seen close up. 


A warm kiss. A comic scene shows a couple interrupted in the midst of sex; the man attempts to cover his nakedness with a pillow; no actual sexual activity.


Profanity and potty language include "s--t," "ass," "bastards," "goddamn," "son of a bitch," "wipe tushies," "poo-poo," "penis," "vagina," "you idiot." A woman suffers from stomach flu and vomits (mostly off camera) repeatedly.


Alaska Airlines, Coca-Cola.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Villain is involved in sale of illegal drugs; references to drug deals, "junkies." Wine with dinner.

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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byMrCrab August 21, 2009

Good movie.

For a supposedly family film, this has a number of intense action scenes and some sexual content (Arnie walks in on walks in on two people having sex. We bri... Continue reading
Adult Written byAnisha L. November 29, 2020

Kindergarten cop

This movie is so great, but also intense
Teen, 14 years old Written bymovie lover0326 June 17, 2009

You should think twice before taking your kids if they are twelve and younger!!

This movie rocked but I would suggest not taking your children if they are twelve and younger because there is a lot of violence and some killings of not only o... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old March 7, 2021

very scary

very salty languege at times there is lots of violence.

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? 

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love action and comedy

Themes & Topics

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