Kindergarten Cop

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Kindergarten Cop
Kindergarten Cop film.jpg
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$202 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 apprehend drug dealer Cullen Crisp (Richard Tyson) before he can get to his former wife and son. While undercover, Kimble discovers a passion for teaching he never knew he had, and considers changing his profession to become an educator. Pamela Reed plays his partner, Phoebe O'Hara, and Penelope Ann Miller plays Joyce, the teacher who becomes his love interest. The original music score was composed by Randy Edelman. The film was released in the United States on December 21, 1990 and grossed $202 million worldwide.[4] A direct-to-video sequel, Kindergarten Cop 2, was released in 2016.


After years of pursuing Cullen Crisp, an infamous drug dealer, LAPD detective John Kimble arrests him for murder; a witness saw 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. Partnered with former teacher-turned-detective Phoebe, Kimble goes undercover in Astoria, Oregon to find Rachel and offer her immunity in exchange for testifying against Crisp in court. Phoebe must act as a substitute teacher in Cullen Jr's kindergarten class at Astoria Elementary School. Phoebe gets a terrible case of stomach flu, falling ill at the last moment, so Kimble takes her place.

The suspicious school principal, Miss Schlowski, 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. With the use of his pet ferret as a class mascot, positive reinforcement, his police training as a model for structure in class, and his experience as a father, 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 and threatening the father of the abused child, winning Miss Schlowski's favor. She assures him that even though she does not agree with his methods, she can see that he is a good teacher. Kimble also becomes fond of Joyce, a fellow teacher whose son Dominic is one of his students. She is estranged from her husband and will not speak of him, telling Dominic that he lives in France. Conversing with the gradually more trusting Joyce, Kimble deduces that she is Rachel and that Dominic is Cullen Jr. Back in California, the case holding Crisp in jail is closed after the witness dies from using tainted cocaine provided by Crisp's mother, Eleanor. Crisp is subsequently released from prison, and quickly travels to Astoria with Eleanor to search for Cullen Jr.

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, as he was angry that Rachel disappeared with him.

Crisp starts a fire in the library as a distraction to kidnap his son, but uses the boy as a hostage when Kimble arrives. Just as Crisp declares his intention to take his son away and prepares to shoot Kimble, Kimble's ferret, which was hiding in Cullen Jr's shirt, bites Crisp in the neck, allowing Cullen Jr to escape. In pain, Crisp accidentally shoots Kimble in the leg, and Kimble then fatally shoots Crisp. Outside, Eleanor injures Phoebe with her car before going inside and discovering Crisp dead. She shoots Kimble in the shoulder, but Phoebe appears and knocks Eleanor unconscious with a baseball bat. Eleanor is then arrested and the unconscious Kimble is hospitalized with Phoebe, with both of them making a full recovery. Phoebe returns to the police force in Los Angeles, while Kimble decides to retire, staying in Astoria to become a kindergarten teacher at the school full-time. Joyce joins him and the two 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.[10]

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,[11] allowing many of the students and faculty to be extras in the film.[12] Students' artwork was also used.

Schwarzenegger's contract stipulated that a private studio for daily workouts and weightlifting be provided for the actor and his personal staff; a suitable studio was located, but when an agreement could not be reached, the actor threatened to pull out of the production. An Astoria business owner stepped in and donated unused commercial space deemed suitable for Schwarzenegger, and the shoot continued.

Also filmed in or near Astoria:[13]

  • John and Phoebe stayed at the Bayview Motel, 783 W. Marine Drive. The vintage lodging facility played itself in the film.
  • Scenes involving John and Phoebe walking to dinner, and Crisp and Eleanor shopping, were filmed on Commercial Street in downtown Astoria.
  • The exterior portions of the restaurant scene were filmed outside the Seafare Restaurant at the Red Lion Inn, 400 Industry Street.
  • Scenes at Joyce and Dominic's house were filmed at a private residence located at 414 Exchange Street.
  • Highway scenes were filmed on U.S. 26 east of Seaside, Oregon, twenty miles from Astoria.
  • The school picnic was filmed at Ecola State Park near Cannon Beach, Oregon, twenty five miles south of Astoria.

Interior school scenes were shot at Universal Studios in Hollywood.[10] The film's opening scene was filmed at the Westfield MainPlace in Santa Ana, California, and South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa, California.[10]



Kindergarten Cop: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Film score (Digital download / Audio CD) by
ReleasedAugust 31, 1993
LabelVarese Sarabande

Track listing[edit]

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.[14]

Critical response[edit]

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a rating of 51% based on 37 reviews. 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."[15] On Metacritic, it has a score of 61 out of 100, based on 15 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews."[16] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave it an average grade of "A-" on an A+ to F scale.[17] 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."[18]

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.[19] 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.[20]

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.[21]

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.[22] It was officially released on Blu-ray, though not by Criterion, on July 1, 2014.


For the video game Silent Hill, parts of Astoria Elementary School from the film were used as reference for the location Midwich Elementary School.[23] 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.[24] 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".[25]


Dolph Lundgren was seen shooting scenes for the film.[26] The sequel, Kindergarten Cop 2, was released direct to DVD in May 2016.[27]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Kindergarten Cop (15)". British Board of Film Classification. 25 January 1991. 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". The 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". Archived from the original on 20 May 2015. Retrieved 25 May 2015.
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^ King, Susan (December 21, 1990). "Ivan Reitman, 'Kindergarten Cop's' Top Sergeant". The 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. ^ a b c "Filming locations for Kindergarten Cop". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved June 21, 2009.
  11. ^ "Schwarzenegger film scenes set in Astoria". Eugene Register-Guard. Associated Press. May 25, 1990. p. 13D.
  12. ^ "An Oregon principal is the real Kindergarten Cop". People. 35 (2). January 21, 1991. Retrieved July 6, 2013.
  13. ^ Astoria & Warrenton Area Chamber of Commerce
  14. ^ "Weekend box office 1st February 1991 - 3rd February 1991". Retrieved 30 December 2016.
  15. ^ "Kindergarten Cop". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster.
  16. ^ "Kindergarten Cop". Metacritic. CBS. Retrieved October 30, 2011.
  17. ^ "CinemaScore".
  18. ^ James, Caryn (December 21, 1990). "Kindergarten Cop (1990)". The New York Times. Retrieved October 30, 2011.
  19. ^ "Kindergarten Cop". Empire. Retrieved October 30, 2011.
  20. ^ Gleiberman, Owen (December 21, 1990). "Kindergarten Cop (1990)". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved October 30, 2011.
  21. ^ Ebert, Roger (December 21, 1990). "Kindergarten Cop (PG-13)". Retrieved March 30, 2018.
  22. ^ 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.
  23. ^ "Silent Hill". VGFacts. Retrieved 2017-12-10.
  24. ^ "Meghan McCain's Blogette". 27 March 2008. Retrieved 13 January 2018.
  25. ^ Chand, Neeraj (May 1, 2021). "How Stan Lee Made Arnold Schwarzenegger's 'Kindergarten Cop 2' Wish Come True". MovieWeb. Retrieved May 15, 2021.
  27. ^ Menjivar, J. Carlos. "Kindergarten Cop 2 (2016)". Popzara. Pippo Publishing, LLC. Retrieved 13 January 2018.

External links[edit]