To put a cap on this Schwarzenegger-themed Month, I figured I'd end things on a light note. Any real fan of Arnold will tell you that the man has a sense of humor about himself, and can be the epitome of a "gentle giant". This is a movie that shows it in a way that balances his action hero side with his sensitive side almost perfectly. This one's also directed by Ivan Reitman; director of my all-time favorite film, 'Ghostbusters', so I may have a slight bias leaning towards it. But at the same time, I just can't do a Schwarzenegger month without covering a bit of comedy. This film is proof that the man can be hilarious if given the chance.
As the movie opens, we're introduced to Detective John Kimble (Schwarzenegger), chasing a drug dealer he's been tracking for years, Cullen Crisp (Richard Tyson). Kimble makes a successful arrest for murder after a witness, Cindy (Alix Koromzay) sees him kill an informant after gaining information on his ex-wife, Rachel's (Penelope Ann Miller) whereabouts. She evidently left him ages ago, taking with her a large sum of money as well as their son. Partnered with an ex-teacher, Phoebe (Pamela Reed), Kimble goes undercover in Astoria, Oregon. The job is to find Rachel and offer her immunity in exchange for testifying against Crisp in court, thus finally closing the case on him.
Phoebe is to act as a kindergarten teacher for Astoria Elementary, and try to locate Rachel as well as Crisp's son. Without the names to go by, with the mother and son being in hiding, it could already be difficult. But things are almost immediately made worse by Phoebe getting sick, and Kimble having to take her place as the kindergarten teacher. Hilarity ensues as the big, tough guy is overwhelmed by the mouths, attitudes and hyperactivity of these 5-6-year-old kids. He can't even swap-out with Phoebe when she gets better, as it'll blow his cover. On top of all that, authorities let Crisp go too soon, and he heads straight for the location of his son in hopes to reunite with him via custodial kidnapping (which, by the way, does not mean "stealing a janitor").
While Schwarzenegger is best-known for being an action-hero, or even THE action hero, this is a good way of showing that he can be flexible for light-hearted stuff the whole family can watch. He has done other comedies like 'Twins', 'Junior' and 'Jingle All the Way', but I'd strongly consider this his quintessential comedy role. The plot sounds pretty dark, but this carries with it so many great Arnold moments when it comes to his interactions with these kids. One of the funniest images of Schwarzenegger I can think of is when he's dressed up as a country farmer singing 'Old MacDonald had a farm', using a ukulele. But this also has such great Arnold-one-liners as "I'm the party pooper.", "There is no bathroom!", and of course "It's not a tumor!"
Even after all these years, this is a great, light-hearted, feel-good flick with just the right amount of dark plotline. It really delivers the laughs and the naive innocence of all these kids, but at the same time delivers a typical Schwarzenegger action movie in its background, which all comes to a head during an admittedly pretty intense climax. This was pretty much the start of the "tough guy with kids" subgenre, followed up with films like 'The Nanny', 'The Pacifier', 'The Spy Next Door' and the very recent 'My Spy'. It's safe to say that just about all of those titles took influence from this movie, and out of all of them, this still remains an untouched classic of sorts. It's just the right balance of light and dark, and it makes sure to teach kids who are watching a thing or two about "stranger danger".
On a final note, I'd like to point out that this time around I kept a sharp eye on the kids and their behavior in the background, and I have to say it's worth re-watching to pick up on a few reactions and such. For example, the scene where he yells "SHUT UP!" and makes them all cry (it's funnier than it sounds, trust me) there's a girl by the classroom sink who must not have known how to fake cry, so she makes a "Duh!" face (as in someone saying "duh" sarcastically). That's just one example, but keep your eyes open, a lot of it is pretty funny. Either way, it deserves a re-watch for Schwarzenegger fans who just need a bit of cheering up from time to time.