I revisited this poke at the Arnold image recently for the first time in many years and while I got a good laugh and chuckle in the intended places I came away from the film realizing that hidden behind Arnold’s enormous physique were four (count’em) four solid roles for actresses.
Quickly in case you have never seen this Ivan Reitman flick, Arnold is trying to locate the former wife and child of the number one street punk he’d like to put on ice. The wife in question took off years ago and is now living under a new identity in a small eastern town. Due to a strange set of circumstances, Arnie is placed undercover as the teacher of the kindergarten class in hopes of figuring out which child is the son of the baddie. Sure it’s all by the numbers but unlike the comedy attempts of main competition Sly Stallone, Arnie had great box office success with his frequent forays into comedy.
“They’re six year olds. How much trouble can they be?”
Arnold’s love interest in the film is actess Penelope Ann Miller. She’s playing a teacher in the school Arnie is assigned to who also happens to be a single Mom with a son in Arnie’s class. This puts her on the list of suspects. With more than a little nudge from his partner, Arnie finds himself getting emotionally involved with a woman he’s casing. A sure break in his code of ethics. Hard to blame him though. Miller gets the opportunity to play “the girl next door”, who can easily capture a man’s heart yet her role allows her some strong scenes when the chips are down and the safety of her son is in question. I liked her very much in this.
Next up is Arnold’s partner played by Pamela Reed. If it wasn’t for a bout of stomach flu it was her that was to go undercover as the teacher. She winds up on the sidelines doing Arnold’s behind the scenes job. She’s funny and holds her own against the Big Guy. She gets to play comic relief and cupid all rolled into one. She has good timing opposite Arnold and even her tiny physique gets in on the action towards the film’s final showdown. A nice job.
Now we have the wonderful Linda Hunt. Standing at less than five feet, one would think that Arnold towers above her. Not likely. She plays the school principle who lets Arnold know she won’t stand for any moves that place the children in danger. She is so sure that he has set himself up for failure. Arnie may be the physically imposing character but my moneys on Linda to take Arnie down. She’s so much fun here and it’s hard not to cheer along with her as she comes around to liking the new teacher. She gets a good laugh when asking Arnold about striking a child abuser to let us know she’s on his side.
The final role I want to mention is far from likable but it presented former bombshell Carrol Baker with more than her share of screen time. She plays the murderous Mother of the villain, Richard Tyson. She supports him and wants nothing better than to help him kidnap her grandson. It’s really a thankless role. Vicious and humorless. Yet she plays it straight and in a domineering style. They’ll be no tears at her funeral I can assure you.
Also turning up is Cathy Moriarty ( that makes 5 ladies) who shares a flirtatious scene with Arnold. She also happens to be a single Mom with a child in Arnie’s class. I suspect that on the cutting room floor there may have been more to her role and perhaps a comical bit of an attempted seduction will turn up as a deleted scene. If not there should be. Her role in Raging Bull solidified her smoldering blonde status and she probably would have tossed Arnie around like a rag doll.
Screen tough guys poking fun at themselves has always been an enjoyable viewing for me over the years when done right. This film coupled with Twins were two prime examples of roles written smartly to capture solid dollars at the box office built around the screen image that Arnold possessed at the time. Neither is a classic but for me a nice slice of entertainment.
Turned out to be a fun rewatch with more than I recollected from the team of ladies within.