Produced at the height of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s fame, the original 1990 Kindergarten Cop was the first family film outing for the (then) largely R-rated action superstar – a move calculated to appeal to the star’s surprising mega-popularity among younger audiences. The film was one of the megastar’s biggest hits; hitting theaters between Total Recall and Terminator 2: Judgment Day. Do you remember that one? Would you like to see a sequel? Were you really big on the premise but could take or leave Schwarzenegger?
Universal Pictures is hoping that the answer to all three is “yes,” as the studio has set Kindergarten Cop 2 for a direct-to-video release on May 17, 2016 with Masters of The Universe’s Dolph Lundgren replacing Arnold in the title role.
In the original film, Schwarzenegger played a no-nonsense detective chasing a dangerous druglord believed to be seeking an ex-wife and son who had vanished years ago. Only able to narrow down the would-be targets’ location to the kindergarten class attended by the child, Schwarzenegger is forced to go undercover as their teacher in order to suss out their identities – enduring comic misadventures and discovering a surprise (if unconventional) skill at teaching in the process. The new film appears to be closer to a remake than a proper sequel, with roughly the same premise and no characters returning from the original. Lundgren’s character is an old-fashioned FBI Agent who goes undercover under similar circumstances, this time searching for a stolen flash-drive containing sensitive Witness Protection information.
One marked departure from the original, according to Entertainment Weekly, is the addition of some culture-clash political humor to the mix: Whereas Schwarzenegger’s character went undercover in an ordinary public school, Lundgren’s “Agent Reed” looks to have been assigned to an ultra-modern institution in the “progressive learning environment” mold, where the old-school tough guy finds himself bewildered by (and bumping up against) what EW calls the school’s “liberal, politically correct environment.” Some satire on the changing state of education is certainly welcome, though one wonders if that will be novelty enough to win over audiences for the sequel to a now 26 year-old action comedy absent the actor whose presence was the main selling point of the original film.
The film was directed by actor/writer/director Don Michael Paul, the onetime star of Robot Wars who previously helmed Half Past Dead, Lake Placid: The Final Chapter, and Tremors 5. Along with Kindergarten Cop 2, he’s also scheduled to appear in Larceny and Don’t Kill It in 2016, plus a cameo in the Coen Bros’ Hail Caesar! which was ultimately cut from the finished film. He’s also scheduled to return for The Expendables 4 in an unknown capacity in 2017.
Kindergarten Cop 2 is set for release on May 17th, 2016.