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Monday, September 30, 2013

Kindergarten Cop

Before I go ahead with today's Monday Matinee, I want to inform you of a recent purchase that I made,  One that will definitely impact any future Monday Matinees in this particular blog.

When I first started this blog, the inspiration behind what movies I featured in this space came from a variety of sources.  In most cases, the films were among some of my favourite movies, and I absolutely wanted to talk about them because I loved them so much.  Sometimes, I'd do a feature on a Sunday Jukebox single which happened to be a part of a soundtrack from a film - which would set the stage for the following Monday Matinee.

But the common thread behind all of my Monday Matinee choices were that I had to have seen the movie at least once in my life.

Well, as it so happens, I was getting a bit nervous because I was beginning to run out of ideas for movies that I could talk about.  I wanted to keep the feature going, as everybody loves watching movies, but at the same time, I didn't want to do a feature on a movie that I haven't seen.  I didn't want to do the film a disservice by trying to engage a discussion on a movie that I haven't watched.

Fortunately, my solution was found at the one place that I never expected it to be.  The electronics department at my workplace!

Up until recently, my only DVD player was the one that was included in my Sony PlayStation 2.  And for nearly seven years, it did what it was supposed to some of my favourite video games and movies.

But over time, the mechanisms in the PS2 began to fade, and while it still plays video games okay, the DVD function quit working.  Sure, the machine would start to play discs, but after five minutes, it would shut off and restart, which made watching a standard 90 minute film impossible to watch.

I knew that I needed to get a brand new DVD player at some point.  Fortunately, as luck would have it, they had Sony DVD players on sale for $35, and I thought...why not?

CONFESSION:  I actually had my eye on the Sony Blu-Ray players which were on for $68, but they were out of stock when I had the money to buy one, so I settled for the DVD Player.  I can go Blu-Ray another time.

So, where am I going with this story?  Well, I'm getting to that.

You see, DVD Players aren't the only things that you can buy in my department.  There is an entire section devoted to multi-movie features.  You know, those ones that have two to four feature films inside one case?  Most of those are quite inexpensive.  As well, there's a five dollar movie bin that has hundreds of films available for purchase for...say it with me...five.  Five dollar.  Five dollar footlongs...ah, erm...movies.

So, let's see.  Inexpensive DVD see where this is leading?

I thought that what I would do is just select a random movie from the five dollar bin, buy it (it's only five bucks, so what am I going to lose other than two hours of my time and five bucks), and then talk about it in the Monday Matinee!  At best, I introduce myself to a movie that I end up enjoying enough to add to my movie collection.

I'm also contemplating having contests where I take a Monday Matinee movie, review it, and offer the movie as a contest prize.  If this is something you would be interested in, let me know!  I've been wanting to do something to increase viewership here, and if offering free DVD's (well, slightly used ones, that is) as a prize will do the trick, then I'll try anything once!

Besides, the holiday season is coming up...and holidays are all about giving, right?

So anyway, today's featured selection happens to be one of the movies that I dug out of the five dollar movie bin!  And, no, I won't be offering up this movie as a prize because I actually kind of dig it...but again, let me know if you want to see me offer free swag on this blog.  I'm good for it!  Really!

I have to say, I don't really have too many memories of kindergarten.  All I remember from that time period is doing connect the dots puzzles with crayons, playing the Statue game in class, and dumping all of the jigsaw puzzles into the sandbox.

(I'll admit it.  I was a bratty, bratty child back then.)

Though I will readily admit that if my teacher were a six foot tall undercover police officer with an Austrian accent...well, I probably would have thought twice about misbehaving in class.  I most certainly would not have tried to bury every single jigsaw puzzle in the sand!

I mean, think about it.  Would YOU want to get on the wrong side of Arnold Schwarzenegger?

As you probably have guessed, we're going to be doing a feature on the 1990 film "Kindergarten Cop", directed by Ivan Reitman.  The film also starred Pamela Reed, Linda Hunt, Richard Tyson, Carroll Baker, and Penelope Ann Miller.

Now, the film itself unfortunately was not as well-received as the producers and directors believed that it would be.  I mean, yes, financially, the film made over two hundred million at the box office.  But when you look at some of the reviews for the film, some critics didn't find it funny, while other people called the film contrived.

Whatever though.  Those are just what a few critics have said.  I myself found the film good.  Although, part of me also feels old knowing that all of the kids who played the kindergarten aged children are between the ages of twenty-five and thirty-two nowadays!

Anyway, "Kindergarten Cop" might seem like a bit of an oxymoron to you.  The closest thing that we had to a kindergarten cop in my classroom was the hall monitor who made sure that we all had our jackets, hats, and outdoor shoes on before we went outside to play.

But then again, Detective John Kimble (Schwarzenegger) never expected to be going undercover at an elementary school.

As the film opens up though, we understand how this unlikely scenario unfolded.  Prior to the events of the film, Kimble has been on the hunt for drug dealer Cullen Crisp (Tyson) for several years.  Kimble finally feels as though he has his break for finally taking Crisp down as he is wanted for first degree murder.  Crisp shot and killed an informant after he gave Crisp information on the whereabouts of his wife, Rachel and his son, Cullen Crisp Jr.  Although there was a witness present when the murder went down, she also happens to be the girlfriend of the informant who happens to also be battling an addiction to serious drugs.  In short, there's no way that she could possibly testify in court and be believed.  As far as Kimble was concerned, the only way to put Crisp behind bars was to find Rachel and get her to testify against her ex-husband.

With the help of his partner, Detective Phoebe O'Hara (Reed), they manage to track down Rachel to a small town in Oregon named Astoria.  They reason that Rachel and her son are in a lot of danger not only because of the murder investigation, but because they suspect that Rachel actually stole a small fortune from Crisp before fleeing Los Angeles, and that she used the money to change the names of herself and her son and set up a new life in Astoria.  And since there's only one elementary school in Astoria, it stood to reason that Rachel would have enrolled her son in the school.  The original plan was for Phoebe to go undercover as a teacher at the school while Kimble did some research on where Rachel could possibly be.

But when Phoebe ended up getting sick and therefore unable to go to the school, Kimble is forced to take on the undercover job himself...which is the last thing that he wanted to do.

And, well...needless to say, his first introduction to the classroom full of kindergarten students didn't exactly go as planned.

No wonder the school principal (Hunt) was very suspicious of Kimble when he walked through the doors of Astoria Elementary School!

Fortunately, as time passed, Kimble began to grow into his new role.  Although some of the lessons he taught were specifically designed so that Kimble could find out more about who Rachel's child really was (i.e., the what does your mommy or daddy do for a living question), he found that he had a lot of fun teaching the kids everything that he knew.  He played with them, he introduced the class to his pet ferret which happened to become the class mascot, and he learned a valuable lesson in biology from one of his students.

Wisdom from the mouths of babes, huh?

If anything, he even gets the seal of approval from the principal of the school when he personally takes care of the abusive parent of one of his students...Kimble style.

I'll bet it felt awesome to hit know.

Anyway, while Kimble eventually develops a strong bond with his students by participating in their gym classes, blowing his police whistle, and reading them stories, there's one kid who piques his interest from the get-go.  Dominic Palmieri (Christian and Joseph Cousins in a dual role) seems to have developed a close bond with Kimble, likely spawned by the fact that Dominic's mother Joyce (Miller) happens to also be developing a closeness with Kimble.

But Kimble suspects that not everything is as it appears.  For one, Kimble notices that Joyce also works at the school as a teacher, and that she is particularly protective of Dominic.  For another, Joyce absolutely refuses to talk about her ex-husband or her previous life prior to moving to Astoria.  And lastly, Joyce can manage to afford a huge house outside of town for her and Dominic to live in while only taking home a teacher's salary (which from what I've heard isn't a whole lot in the United least, that was the case in 1990 anyway).

Kimble starts to put two and two together, and comes up with the conclusion that Joyce and Dominic are really Rachel and Cullen Crisp Jr.  And although Joyce is resistant to tell Kimble anything, she gradually reveals the whole story.  She was in an abusive relationship with Cullen Crisp and she didn't want to expose Dominic to Cullen's crimes.  She fled from the relationship and settled in Astoria - the home she lives in belonged to an old friend who told her she could live there in exchange for taking care of the home in their absence.  The only thing that Kimble was wrong about was that she did not take a penny from Crisp.  It was a lie that he purposely told in order to get his minions in the underworld to locate both of them easily.  Once Kimble learns the truth about Joyce/Rachel, he vows to protect them.  And Phoebe (who by now has recovered from her illness) is filled in on the story and she too also decides to keep a lookout to protect both of them from Cullen.

But when Cullen's mother Eleanor (Baker) murders the only other witness in the murder case, the case is overturned, and Cullen is set free.  He and his mother immediately descend on the community of Astoria, determined to grab Dominic and take care of Joyce once and for all.  By sneaking into the school under the guise of a parent who wishes to enroll a child at Astoria Elementary, he sets a small fire in the school library to get the ball rolling.  And amidst the chaos of shattering lights and sprinklers going off, Cullen successfully grabs his son and disappears into a school bathroom.  While all this is going on, Phoebe - who is trying to get inside the school - is hit by a car driven by Eleanor which temporarily knocks her out cold.

Luckily, John Kimble is still inside the school and he searches the entire area looking for Dominic.  But what happens when Kimble and Crisp come face to face...I'm not telling!

That's the story of how a police officer became a kindergarten teacher...and as the principal said it best, she didn't know what kind of a police officer he was, but he makes a good teacher.  And, one thing I will say about the final scene is that Kimble's final choices will tie everything together again, and show that deep down inside, the most hardened and jaded of police officers can be wooed by a simple hug, or the sound of laughter from a child.

Anyway, I found some trivia bits about this movie - some of which actually surprised me!

1 - Arnold Schwarzenegger was not the first choice for the lead role in Kindergarten Cop.  Patrick Swayze was approached, but turned it down as he was filming "Ghost" at the time.  Bill Murray was also considered for the role as was...wait for it...Danny DeVito!  Somehow, I don't think DeVito would have worked, even though I do love his acting.

2 - You may recognize some of the kids in Kimble's class.  One of them is Miko Hughes, who later went on to play the recurring role of Aaron Bailey in "Full House", and the twins are played by Tiffany and Krystle Mataras, who also featured in "Problem Child 2".

3 - The scene in which Kimble is speaking German as he carries someone into a house is somewhat naughty - translating the words into English reveals a couple of swears!

4 - Ivan Reitman's son Jason has a cameo in the movie.  Look for him during the fire scenes.

5 - Reitman also inserted a reference from one of his previous films in one of the scenes from "Kindergarten Cop".  Dominic's bedspread are "Ghostbusters" themed.

6 - This was the film debut of actress Odette Annable, who was just five years old at the time this film was released.  She played the role of Rosa, one of Kimble's students.

7 - Did you know that owning a pet ferret in California is illegal?  So, when Kimble was still living in California before relocating to Oregon, he was actually breaking the law!  In a twist of irony, Schwarzenegger actually supported the ferret ban while he was still Governor of California!

8 - Most of the film was filmed at real places within Astoria, Oregon.

9 - This is the first of two movies that Arnold Schwarzenegger and Pamela Reed would star in together.  Reed also featured in the 1994 film "Junior", but her role was a lot smaller.

10 - Angela Bassett has a cameo role as a flight attendant in the film.

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