Dinner and a Movie
By Steve Herte
Kindergarten Cop 2 (Universal, 2016) – Director: Don Michael Paul. Writers: David H. Steinberg (s/p). Based on the film written by Timothy Harris, Murray Salem, & Herschel Weinrot. Stars: Dolph Lindgren, Fiona Vroom, Sarah Strange, Daria Taylor, Aleks Paunovic, Bill Bellamy, Enid-Raye Adams, Danny Watley, Rebecca Olson, Raphael Alejandro, Abbie Magnusen, Andre Tricoteux, Michael P. Northey, Jenny Sandersson, Dean Petriw, & Carolyn Adair. Color, Rated PG-13, 100 minutes.
After the success of the first movie in 1990 starring Arnold Schwarzenegger as Agent Kimble, it took 25 years for us to be treated to this lukewarm sequel. FBI Agent Zack Reed (Lundgren) goes undercover as a teacher in a new-age, politically correct, over-protective kindergarten to find a flash-drive containing sensitive information on the Federal Witness Protection Program.
The FBI provides him with a glowing resume that impresses the Head Mistress, Miss Sinclaire (Strange) and gets him the job easily. He thinks that six-year-olds are simple to handle, but not with Cowboy (Alejandro), who is hyper-allergic to peanuts, and Molly (Magnusen), whose dad is having employment problems and is taking out his frustration on his family. Zack’s first day on the job is an almost total disaster, only saved by fellow teacher Olivia (Taylor).
Zack’s partner, Agent Sanders (Bellamy) and a parent himself. eventually convinces him to wear a communication device and things progress much better with his coaching. At the same time, the Albanian mob is also after the same flash-drive under the leadership of the merciless Zogu (Paunovic), who comes off like a second-rate Boris Badenov.
Another thing Zack isn’t prepared for is falling in love with Olivia, thus alienating fellow male teacher Hal (Michael P. Northey), who has called “dibs” on her. Frankly, if I were as roly-poly as Hal, I would not confront a muscular guy like Lundgren with such a childish claim.
With the exception of the kids, the acting in this film falls flat. It’s really all about them. They’re adorable. Lundgren is just as wooden as his chiseled good looks. His boss Mike Giardello (Watley) tops the boring scales with his overacting, but never quite evens out the balance. The audience is left with only the children to care about as characters, and they’re being natural.
There are several attempts at humor. Some succeed, some are ruined by Lundgren’s off-hand delivery. Maybe if he had an accent? The writing is good but only the six-year-olds and Sarah Strange know how to handle punch lines. Even at the climax of the film, it’s the children reenacting a scene from the Trojan War who save the day. But it doesn’t save the movie. There's a good reason it went straight to video.
Rating: 2 out of 5 Martini glasses.
377 Boston Post Road, Orange, Conn.
After two days of touring the Catskills and a Chinese take-out dinner with my godson’s family, my sister, brother-in-law and I had our sights set on a lovely Italian dinner in Milford, but it was booked for the time we preferred. The search for a dining experience ran the gamut of places previously visited to places none of us wanted to visit. And then we hit upon a Mexican restaurant none of us has tried.
On the main road in Orange, Puerto Vallarta stands out. The adobe hacienda-style design of the restaurant is eye-catching and as the sun goes down, the strings of multi-colored twinkle lights edge every curve of the Alamo-like entrance. Inside the front door is a colorful mural of a welcoming señorita with carved dark-wood benches lined up around tall tables in both directions. Sun motifs are on the walls as well as brightly painted artworks framed by authentic Mexican tiles.
Our server, Lupe, introduced herself and offered the possibility of cocktails. I chose the Puerto Vallarta Cosmolito – a Mexican twist to an American favorite with Don Julio Silver Tequila, Grand Marnier, cranberry juice, and fresh lime juice. It was mostly sweet with a little tart overtone and that beautiful rosy color.
Not seeing a small appetizer-sized salad on the menu as a side, my sister tried asking for a “tossed” salad. I ordered the Sopa de Albondigas (meatball soup) – fresh-minted beef and pork meatballs, with seasonal vegetables in a clear broth, served with diced onions, fresh mint, oregano and warm tortillas in a ceramic crock. The salad was dinner-sized and enough for both my sister and her husband. My soup was just right for me, a good-sized bowl filled with sliced summer squash, cauliflower, green peppers and savory tender meatballs.
The Enchiladas Suizas – corn tortillas filled with a choice of cheese, chicken, ground beef, or “picadillo” (shredded beef) topped with green tomatillo sauce and Monterrey Jack cheese and sour cream – were a little disappointing and lacking in flavor for my brother-in-law and the refried beans were not to his liking. My sister had the Fajita Quesadilla – large flour tortillas filled with melted cheese, marinated grilled strips of chicken or steak, sautéed onions and bell peppers with guacamole, sour cream and Pico de Gallo. The meat was tender and well-cooked and flavorful. She enjoyed it but found the portion a bit too large.
My Chamorro Pibil – lamb shank marinated overnight in wine, wrapped in banana leaves and baked, served with white rice, beans and salsa verde (fresh tomatillos, avocado, chilies and special Puerta Vallarta spices) – was excellent. The meat fell off the two bones into the rich sauce. I took some of the white rice and mixed it with the beans and a little sauce and was very happy and the salsa verde added just the right touch of heat.
For dessert, my two companions shared the Tres Leches (three milks) Cake. It was moist, fluffy and sweet and just the right size. I had the Dulce de Leche Cheese Cake and it was amazing. There were three layers, the sweet milk on top, chocolate cheese in the middle and cream cheese on the bottom, all laced with caramel syrup and topped with a cherry.
And for a finisher I had a coffee called Mexican Dream – coffee with Kahlua, brandy and Bailey’s Irish Cream. Even when I was in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico I didn’t eat this well. I’m sure we’ll all return.
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