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Director: Don Michael Paul
Writers: David H. Steinberg, Timothy Harris
Stars: Dolph Lundgren, Bill Bellamy, Fiona Vroom, Darla Taylor
The sequel to the 1990 Arnold Schwarzenegger hit in name only follows FBI agent Reed (Dolph Lundgren) and his younger partner Sanders (Bill Bellamy) who are always on the bad side of their always angry chief while they banter for Twix bars. They are on the hunt for an Eastern European mobster named Zogu (Aleks Paunovic) and discover that there is highly sensitive information on a flashdrive belonging to a kindergarten teacher who has since mysteriously passed on. After unsuccessfully interviewing the students in the teacher’s class, Reed comes up with an idea that he thinks will give him a better chance to find the drive: become a teacher and spend time with the children. Should be easy.
Of course it isn’t. On his first day, he learns the hard way that little kids are harder to handle than the toughest bad guys in the business. He gets peed on, causes a panic when he brings a peanut butter and jelly sandwich to the classroom and sends them all into a crying fit when he whips out an air horn. This draws the attention of the other kindergarten teacher, a very attractive young woman named Olivia (Darla Taylor), who gives him some tips, but more than that, has a little spark in her eyes when they meet. Meanwhile, Zogu and his henchmen are on his tail and the overly politically correct headmaster has him on a three-strikes-your-out policy. Needless to say, an airhorn equals a strike.
Directed by Don Michael Paul, Kindergarten Cop 2 is a perfectly innocuous low budget movie that, if not for its connection to the original, could have been sharper, but because of that, tries a little too hard to recall the first. Lundgren is, as always, charming and likable, and oddly well-cast, filling in the muscle bound role with relative ease but the story is all over the place and treats the crime aspect of it like an afterthought, putting nearly all its energy in the kids and the romance, which is at best, awkward. Lundgren, who is undoubtedly in good shape, is edging close to 60 while Taylor is 29. Okay fine, that’s the movies, but then there’s the screaming captain who feels like he got edited into the movie from an 80s buddy cop flick (Reed also lives in a camper by the water, ala Martin Riggs). There’s also country line dancing. A big blonde henchman. A sudden bachelor auction where Reed is the only contestant, and a running gag with Twix candy bars that has no payoff. It’s really hard to figure a lot of why any of it was added. If it’s satire, it falls flat.
The children are all adorable of course, if not cookie-cutter archetypes, spouting out the usual shocking one liners that are meant to surprise but mostly end up eye-rolling. What is surprising is how fun it is to see Lundgren with them, who clearly is enjoying the little tykes, even if he spends all his time solving the usual crises and of course that one special kid who’s unhappy because of trouble at home. But because this movie isn’t about conflicts, it only takes one line of dialog to fix that problem.
It’s hard to fault the film as it doesn’t try to be any more than a light comedy. It’s far less violent than the Schwarzenegger original, and therefore lacks any edge. There’s no profanity and any real sense of logic or realism are gleefully cast aside. It’s competently directed (though the editing is odd as Lundgren’s stylish hair flip-flops from a right part to a left part from scene-to-scene). Bellamy is sadly underused but brings a few solid laughs, though Paunovic and his gang are hopelessly cliché, speaking in contrived Eastern European accents and lounging around in a villa with bikini girls wandering around in front of the camera. The film makes a note to comment on how cliché they are, but that doesn’t excuse the fact that they are. Nor does it make it clever.
All that said, there’s no denying this a simple film that is wholly designed to cash in on not just the name of the first but the current unwieldy trend in movies to put all its money in nostalgia. For a rental, it might give Lundgren fans a smirk or two, but it isn’t even fun enough to watch as a double feature with the original. It’s too bad that the effort and casting couldn’t put these talents into a better story rather than wedge them into a title. That’s not even mentioning that Reed isn’t even a cop.