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Kindergarten Cop

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Kindergarten Cop
Theatrical release poster
Directed byIvan Reitman
Screenplay by
Story byMurray Salem
Produced by
CinematographyMichael Chapman
Edited by
Music byRandy Edelman
Distributed byUniversal Pictures
Release date
  • December 21, 1990 (1990-12-21)
Running time
111 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
Budget$26 million[2]
Box office$91.5 million[3][4]

Kindergarten Cop is a 1990 American action comedy film directed by Ivan Reitman and distributed by Universal Pictures.[4] Arnold Schwarzenegger stars as John Kimble, a tough police detective working undercover as a kindergarten teacher to locate the wife and child of drug dealer Cullen Crisp (Richard Tyson), who are living under assumed identities. Pamela Reed, Penelope Ann Miller and Linda Hunt co-star. The original music score was composed by Randy Edelman. A direct-to-video sequel, Kindergarten Cop 2, was released in 2016.

The film was released in the United States on December 21, 1990, and grossed $91 million worldwide.[4] Critical reception was mixed, though Schwarzenegger earned high marks for expanding into comedy films after his early work in action-adventure productions.


After years of pursuing Cullen Crisp, an infamous drug lord, LAPD detective John Kimble arrests him for murder after a girl named Cindy witnesses Crisp murder an informant after getting information regarding the whereabouts of his former wife, Rachel, who he claims stole millions of dollars from him before fleeing with his son, Cullen Jr.

Partnered with former teacher-turned-detective Phoebe O'Hara, Kimble goes undercover in Astoria, Oregon, to find Rachel and offer her immunity in exchange for testifying against Crisp in court. O'Hara is tasked with finding Rachel via her son by acting as a substitute teacher in a kindergarten class at Astoria Elementary School. Both of them get to know each other – Kimble is divorced and has a son named Alex who is 13 years old and who he has not spoken to in a while after his ex-wife got remarried, and O'Hara is dating a chef – and become friends. However, she is incapacitated by a severe stomach flu, so Kimble takes her place as a teacher.

The school principal, Miss Schlowski, is suspicious of Kimble's being a cop and is convinced Kimble will not last long before quitting. Though initially overwhelmed, he adapts to his new status quickly, despite not having any formal teaching experience. Through the use of his pet ferret as a class mascot, positive reinforcement, and his police training as a model for structure in class, he becomes a much admired and cherished figure to the students.

Kimble begins to enjoy his undercover role. At one point, he deals with a case of child abuse by assaulting, threatening, and pressing charges against the abusive father of one of his students, winning Miss Schlowski's favor, since she had been suspecting for a while that the abuse was going on. She assures him that even though she does not agree with his methods, she can see that he is a good teacher, and, as such, does not fire him. Kimble also becomes fond of Joyce, a fellow teacher whose son Dominic is one of his students. Dominic looks up to Kimble and sees him as a father figure, as his mother is estranged from her husband and will not speak of him, telling Dominic that he lives in France and that she left him after seeing his true colors, refusing to elaborate.

Conversing with the gradually more trusting Joyce and figuring out more about her estranged husband, Kimble deduces that she is Rachel and that Dominic is Cullen, Jr.. Back in California, the case holding Crisp in jail is closed after Cindy dies from using tainted cocaine provided by Crisp's mother and partner in crime, Eleanor. Crisp is subsequently released from prison and travels to Astoria with Eleanor to search for his son. When Kimble learns Crisp has been released, he confronts Rachel about her identity, saying he can protect her if she cooperates. She is outraged that he misled her, but she tells him that Crisp lied about her stealing money from him, to convince drug dealers to help him find her. Crisp's real reason for searching for her was to find his son and kidnap him as he was irritated that Rachel disappeared with him.

Crisp starts a fire in the library as a distraction to kidnap his son, then uses the boy as a hostage when Kimble arrives, intending on capturing him. Just as Crisp declares his intention to take his son away and prepares to shoot Kimble, Kimble's ferret, which was hiding in Dominic's sweater, bites Crisp in the neck, allowing Dominic to escape. In pain, Crisp shoots at Kimble, hitting him in the leg, to which Kimble shoots Crisp three times in the chest, killing him. Outside, Eleanor injures O'Hara with her car before going inside and discovering her son dead. She shoots Kimble in the shoulder and demands he tell her where her grandson is, but at the last second, O'Hara appears and knocks Eleanor unconscious with a baseball bat. Eleanor is then arrested and the unconscious Kimble is hospitalized alongside O'Hara, both of them going on to make a full recovery.

O'Hara returns to the police force in Los Angeles while Kimble decides to resign, staying in Astoria to become a kindergarten teacher at the school full time. Joyce joins him and they share a kiss while everyone cheers.




Bill Murray and Patrick Swayze were approached to play the role of Kimble.[5][6] Danny DeVito was also considered for the role, but Ivan Reitman nixed the idea due to the actor's height.[7]

Director Ivan Reitman and casting director Michael Chinich auditioned more than 2,000 children for the roles of the students.[8] Elijah Wood unsuccessfully auditioned for a role.[9]


Exterior scenes at Astoria Elementary School were filmed at John Jacob Astor Elementary School, located at 3550 Franklin Avenue in Astoria, Oregon.[6]

Universal Studios hired local artists Judith Niland and Carl Lyle Jenkins to paint murals on the walls at Astoria, and provided new playground equipment, a fenced playground, and a new lawn and hedges around the school. Most of the filming was completed after school was out in June 1990,[10] allowing many of the students and faculty to be extras in the film.[11] Students' artwork was also used.[12] While on location, Schwarzenegger insisted a private studio for daily workouts and weightlifting be assembled for his use.[6]

Other locations used in or near Astoria include the Bayview Motel,[12] Commercial Street in downtown Astoria,[13] and exteriors outside the Seafare Restaurant on Industry Street.[13] The school picnic was filmed at Ecola State Park near Cannon Beach, Oregon, twenty five miles south of Astoria.[13] Scenes at Joyce and Dominic's house were filmed at a private residence located at 414 Exchange Street[13] and highway scenes were filmed on U.S. 26 east of Seaside, Oregon, twenty miles from Astoria.[14]

Interior school scenes were shot at Universal Studios in Hollywood.[6][8][15] The film's opening scene was filmed at the Westfield MainPlace in Santa Ana, California,[13] and South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa, California.[16]


Kindergarten Cop: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Film score (Digital download / Audio CD) by
ReleasedAugust 31, 1993
LabelVarese Sarabande
1."Astoria School Theme"1:06
2."Children's Montage"3:21
3."Love Theme (Joyce)"2:30
4."Stalking Crisp"3:40
5."Dominic's Theme/A Rough Day"1:54
6."The Line Up/Fireside Chat"2:57
7."Rain Ride"1:55
8."The Kindergarten Cop"1:27
9."Poor Cindy/Gettysburg Address"2:06
10."A Dinner Invitation"0:47
11."Love Theme Reprise"1:25
12."A Magic Place"2:54
13."Kimble Reveals the Truth"1:45
14."The Tower/Everything Is OK"2:29
15."Fire at the School"5:38
Total length:34:48


Box office[edit]

Kindergarten Cop grossed $91.4 million in North America, $110.5 in other territories, and $202 million worldwide.[3][4] It was released in the United Kingdom on February 1, 1991, and topped the country's box office that weekend.[17]

Critical response[edit]

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a rating of 54% based on 39 reviews, and an average rating of 5.60/10. The site's consensus reads, "Arnold Schwarzenegger substitutes his action brio with some refreshingly adept comedic timing, but Kindergarten Cop is too grim for children and too cloying for adults."[18] On Metacritic, it has a score of 61 out of 100, based on 15 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[19] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave it an average grade of "A−" on an A+ to F scale.[20] Reviewer Caryn James of The New York Times said, "Like Twins, which was also directed by Ivan Reitman, nothing in the film is as funny as the idea of it."[21]

In Kim Newman's review for Empire, he wrote, "with a heart of purest mush, the film still manages to be generally entertaining" and gave it 3 stars out of 5.[22] An Entertainment Weekly review at the time of release notes that: "the movie never quite gels and it is not going to generate quite the mega hit business their producers are counting on", giving it a "C" grade.[23]

Roger Ebert said the film: "is made up of two parts that shouldn't fit, but somehow they do, making a slick entertainment out of the improbable, the impossible and Arnold Schwarzenegger" and awarded it three stars.[24]

On April Fool's Day 2012, as a prank, the film was announced to be selected for a release on DVD and Blu-ray Disc as part of the Criterion Collection, a video distribution company dedicated to the release of "important classic and contemporary films". It was said to be selected as important in part because of its genre revisionist use of both the policier and family comedy genres in the same film.[25] It was officially released on Blu-ray, though not by Criterion, on July 1, 2014.[26]


For the video game Silent Hill, parts of Astoria Elementary School from the film were used as reference for the location Midwich Elementary School.[27] Several of Schwarzenegger's memorable lines from the film were used in sound boards for prank phone calls that became popular in the early 2000s.[28] During an April 2021 interview on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, Schwarzenegger stated that the idea behind the making of Superhero Kindergarten came from his desire "to do a sequel to Kindergarten Cop".[29]


A standalone sequel starring Dolph Lundgren, Kindergarten Cop 2, was released direct to DVD in May 2016.[30]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Kindergarten Cop (12)". British Board of Film Classification. 25 January 1991. Archived from the original on March 28, 2019. Retrieved March 28, 2019.
  2. ^ "Kindergarten Cop (1990)". The Numbers. Retrieved March 28, 2019.
  3. ^ a b Broeske, Pat H. (January 8, 1991). "WEEKEND BOX OFFICE : Moviegoers Go for the Laughs". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 11, 2011.
  4. ^ a b c d "Kindergarten Cop". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved September 17, 2015.
  5. ^ Evans, Bradford (17 February 2011). "The Lost Roles of Bill Murray". Splitsider. Archived from the original on 20 May 2015. Retrieved 25 May 2015.
  6. ^ a b c d "17 Facts About 'Kindergarten Cop' For Its 25th Anniversary". Mental Floss. 21 December 2015.
  7. ^ "The Lost Roles of Danny DeVito". Vulture. 15 September 2011.
  8. ^ a b King, Susan (December 21, 1990). "Ivan Reitman, 'Kindergarten Cop's' Top Sergeant". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 25 April 2016. Retrieved December 2, 2010.
  9. ^ "Footnotes: Elijah Wood". My Dad Wrote a Porno (Podcast). Acast. July 6, 2016. Retrieved August 19, 2021.
  10. ^ "Schwarzenegger film scenes set in Astoria". Eugene Register-Guard. Associated Press. May 25, 1990. p. 13D.
  11. ^ "An Oregon principal is the real Kindergarten Cop". People. 35 (2). January 21, 1991. Retrieved July 6, 2013.
  12. ^ a b "Story Notes for Kindergarten Cop". AMC Networks. Archived from the original on May 12, 2015. Retrieved August 2, 2022.
  13. ^ a b c d e "Filming Locations of Kindergarten Cop". MovieLoci.com. Retrieved August 2, 2022.
  14. ^ "Kindergarten Cop (1990) Filming Locations". The Movie District. Retrieved August 2, 2022.
  15. ^ "Kindergarten Cop (1990)". AFI Catalog. Retrieved August 6, 2022.
  16. ^ "Angles Salon". Orange Coast Magazine. January 1994. p. 38. Retrieved August 2, 2022.
  17. ^ "Weekend box office 1st February 1991 - 3rd February 1991". www.25thframe.co.uk. Retrieved 30 December 2016.
  18. ^ "Kindergarten Cop". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster.
  19. ^ "Kindergarten Cop". Metacritic. CBS. Retrieved October 30, 2011.
  20. ^ "CinemaScore". cinemascore.com.
  21. ^ James, Caryn (December 21, 1990). "Kindergarten Cop (1990)". The New York Times. Retrieved October 30, 2011.
  22. ^ Newman, Kim (January 2000). "Kindergarten Cop Review". Empire. Retrieved October 30, 2011.
  23. ^ Gleiberman, Owen (December 21, 1990). "Kindergarten Cop". EW.com. Retrieved October 30, 2011.
  24. ^ Ebert, Roger (December 21, 1990). "Kindergarten Cop (PG-13)". www.rogerebert.com. Retrieved March 30, 2018.
  25. ^ Davis, Edward (April 2, 2012). "Yesterday's Best April Fool's Day Joke: Criterion's Upcoming Release Of 'Kindergarten Cop'". IndieWire. Penske Business Media, LLC. Retrieved March 30, 2018.
  26. ^ "Kindergarten Cop Blu-ray". blu-ray.com. Retrieved August 6, 2022.
  27. ^ "Silent Hill". VGFacts. Retrieved 2017-12-10.
  28. ^ "Meghan McCain's Blogette". CBSNews.com. 27 March 2008. Retrieved 13 January 2018.
  29. ^ Chand, Neeraj (May 1, 2021). "How Stan Lee Made Arnold Schwarzenegger's 'Kindergarten Cop 2' Wish Come True". MovieWeb. Retrieved May 15, 2021.
  30. ^ Menjivar, J. Carlos (20 May 2016). "Kindergarten Cop 2 (2016)". Popzara. Pippo Publishing, LLC. Retrieved 13 January 2018.

External links[edit]