Plot: What’s it about?
“It’s not a tum-ah!”
The 1990’s ushered in a new era for Arnold Schwarzenegger. The 80’s were very good to him and after establishing himself as one of the premiere action stars of said decade, it was time for a change. Arnold was the face of films like Red Sonja, Conan the Barbarian, The Terminator and Commando, but with Ivan Reitman’s Kindergarten Cop, he showed a softer and gentler side. Granted, he’d done that a few years earlier with Danny DeVito in Twins and would again team with DeVito in Junior (in which he played a pregnant man). It could be argued that Schwarzenegger’s choice to branch out into comedic roles might be of the keys to his longevity and the same year (1990) would also see him in the Summer blockbuster Total Recall. Suffice it to say that this was a very good time for the former Austrian bodybuilder.
Schwarzenegger plays Detective John Kimble, a streetwise cop who’s been in pursuit of notorious drug dealer Cullen Crisp (Richard Tyson) for years and years. When Kimble finally apprehends Crisp, the only person who can testify against him and put him behind bars is his ex-wife (Penelope Ann Miller), but she’s missing in action and the only lead is through her son. Kimble only knows the name of the school where her son attends and, as the name entails, Kimble must now go undercover and pose as a kindergarten teacher to help bring Crisp to justice. Of course, there’s an attraction between Kimble and Joyce (Miller). But the movie begs the question: can Kimble infiltrate the toughest assignment of his career (a kindergarten classroom), bring a drug dealer to justice and survive to tell the story?
Kindergarten Cop was an instant success, pulling in nearly $100 million at the domestic box office (and those were 1990 dollars) and really cemented Schwarzenegger as not only a solid action star, but one that crossed the threshold to comedic roles as well. Yes, this was a softer and gentler Ah-nuld that audiences weren’t used to, but as it turned out with Reitman’s direction, the result was a resounding success. This was also one of the main starring roles for Penelope Ann Miller, having been previously seen in Biloxi Blues (and would be seen in other films like Carlito’s Way, The Shadow and The Relic to name just a few. Watching the film again after so long reminded me of a much simpler time and a much more attractive (and non-political) Arnold Schwarzenegger. For those that haven’t seen it, this is a gem in Arnold’s crown.
Video: How’s it look?
A new Dolby Vision master created from the 4K scan of the original 35mm camera negatives is what powers the transfer here. And it’s a step up in video quality. With colors bold and bright, there seems to be a fine layer of grain in some of the darker sequences, but detail has been improved since the Blu-ray release and though no significant DNR has been used, the overall image quality is fairly above average. Contrast and black levels work well off one another, but early on I caught bit of motion in some shadows. It’s an improvement, to be sure, but not something that’ll take your breath away.
Audio: How’s it sound?
Unlike some of Schwarzenegger’s action movies, this DTS HD 2.0 option won’t be one that’ll test the limits of your speakers. This is an upgrade over the previous Dolby mix found on the Blu-ray, but nothing that really warrants too much attention. Vocals are strong and I detected no signs of distortion, but there’s just not a lot of range or depth. The front stage handles most of the action nicely, but this mix is fairly dialogue-driven with only sporadic action at the beginning and end.
Supplements: What are the extras?
- Audio Commentary – Film Historians Alexandra Heller-Nicholas and Josh Nelson contribute to this commentary track. Admittedly, when I think of commentary tracks by film historians, I wouldn’t think that this movie would be what they’re commenting on. I’d be incorrect. It’s a decent listen, though having one of the stars in the film would have been nice as well.
- Audio Commentary – Film Historian Samm Deighan flies solo with this second track by a “film historian.” I’ll be honest, I didn’t listen to this one. It’s there if you want/need it, though.
- Theatrical Trailer
The Bottom Line
Kingergarten Cop was yet another success for Arnold and showed that he can play to families as well as the action/adventure crowd. It started the 90’s off in style and it’d be another feather in his cap. Kino’s 4K offering gives us the best-looking transfer to date along with two audio commentaries. If you don’t own this disc, this is the one to get.