If there’s a “toomah,” it’s Universal’s Blu-ray treatment of this ’90s gem
Arnold Schwarzenegger is swarmed by kids who steal his starring role in this hokey and colorful escapade which finds the Austrian bodybuilder undercover as a kindergarten teacher. Conceptually, it seems too unbelievable for fake movie trailers on a sketch comedy program. In execution, Kindergarten Cop is stupidly successful.
It must be Ivan Reitman, fresh off his stint behind the camera in Ghostbusters II, directing Schwarzenegger to play up as often as he’s down. A somewhat plodding introduction tonally establishes Richard Kimble (Schwarzenegger) for the implausible, shotgun-toting hard cop role, working the script into immediate overtime for the sake of comedic contrast.
Kimble is in full search mode for a squirrelly villain, donned as such for his wavy ponytail – that’s all you needed to be branded a cinematic thug in the ’90s. If nothing else, Murray Salem’s credited story concept builds a reasonable excuse to plop this burly action star into a grade school classroom. At least, there is enough justification for this type of spirited escapism.
Kindergarten Cop becomes a charmingly corny (and profitable) book-ended goose chase, filled in with cornball antics which play up the illogical fish-out-of-water narrative. Reitman commands a legion of kids in a best effort attempt in front of the lens, bringing about a slew of memorably innocent lines. Schwarzenegger too is given a few zingers to toy with, emphatically proving it’s not “a toomah.” Pop culture parodies of the day had a blast with that one.
The flick sinks into its status of predictable pointlessness, apparently trying to justify itself with an unnerving and uncomfortable throw-away domestic violence sub plot. In fact, Kindergarten Cop has a few of those plotting duds, mostly to unlatch the audience from the obvious twist. Much of the appeal remains a cast of kids who are playfully enthusiastic and slip into their simple roles with vigor only reserved for the young.
We can credit Schwarzenegger for stepping out of type and initiating this trend of action stars who break from their on-screen murder streaks for something comically out of character. Dwayne Johnson’s The Tooth Fairy, Vin Diesel’s The Pacifier, Stallone’s Stop or My Mom Will Shoot – they all exhibit a Hollywood departure, yet none of those were able to lock into the harmless goofiness of Schwarzenegger’s outing. The miniature co-stars ensure it. [xrr rating=4/5 label=Movie]
Oh Universal. You unsightly blight on catalog Blu-ray. What would we do without you? Thanks to Universal, sites this need to remain in business, mostly because the studio continues to slip up with stuff like Kindergarten Cop, despite their overall improvement. Some credit is due to Uni for not dumping most of their catalog to a third-rate distributor, but such end results mean little.
This disc trips over the master, dated in quality, sapped of vibrancy, and bugged by processing. Exteriors and medium shots portray miniscule fidelity, usually warping images into a form similar to DVD. Close-ups present meager fidelity, an admitted jump over the previous generation format if still tailing off from what a capable master would provide.
Unsightly edge enhancement tries to recuperate many shots, adding a notable harshness which frequently deviates from the appearance of film. Kindergarten Cop cannot hide from this dull resolution. Such touch up causes a rise in grain structure and a persistent battle of digital compression. Management of this film stock is alarmingly poor.
Highlights are blown out to harsh, searing whites, creating uneven contrast between shots. A near total wash out of saturation only adds to the unwieldy presentation, distancing itself from intense primaries. Much of Kindergarten Cop feels soggy and brown without any life.
In a search for positives, background work keeps the print clean with some exceptions. Some blotches still creep in toward the corners, although rare. Any gained fidelity is not worth the excitement. [xrr rating=2/5 label=Video]
Listed as DTS-HD 2.0, this mix feels more mono than stereo. Separated effects are few until the finale brings about streams of fire trucks and panicked kids. Some of those elements split from the rest. For as active as this feature can be, audio work lacks vigor.
But, as an aside, clarity is appreciable. Randy Edelman’s perky piano score is pleasant and dialog is never warped by age. Overall volume sinks below the norm, although Kindergarten Cop is not offering a powerhouse to miss if things are turned low. Purely adequate. [xrr rating=3/5 label=Audio]
Kindergarten Cop boots right into the movie, maybe as a distraction tactic to help users avoid the non-existent menu options outside of the intangibles. A trailer is the only offering. [xrr rating=1/5 label=Extras]
Click on the images below for full resolution screen captures taken directly from the Blu-ray. Images have not been altered in any way during the process.