Review: ‘Santa with Muscles’

"Santa With Muscles" is a 98-pound weakling of a comedy, with other movies certain to kick sand in its face during its limited theatrical run in regional release. The Hulk Hogan starrer may generate some business as a sell-through homevideo item, but even very small children won't find much here to ho-ho-ho about.

“Santa With Muscles” is a 98-pound weakling of a comedy, with other movies certain to kick sand in its face during its limited theatrical run in regional release. The Hulk Hogan starrer may generate some business as a sell-through homevideo item, but even very small children won’t find much here to ho-ho-ho about.

The Hulkster toplines as Blake Thorne, a Scrooge-like millionaire who becomes a real sweetheart when, through a series of plot contrivances, he comes to believe he is the real Santa Claus. Ironically, this transformation is the total reverse of Hogan’s recent real-life career move, as his rep has gone south since his glory days as a pro wrestler.

Thorne has amassed a fortune by marketing health food and dietary supplements , but wealth has turned him into a selfish, self-indulgent brute. Fleeing the police after a rowdy paint-gun battle gets out of hand, Thorne hides in a shopping mall and dons a Santa suit as a disguise. But after he receives a blow to the head, he develops amnesia. Lenny (Dan Stark), a shifty character who’s working as an elf in a Christmas display, takes advantage of the situation: In the hope of gaining access to the big guy’s wallet, he convinces Thorne that the millionaire is the genuine Santa.

Taking his new role very seriously, Thorne wanders off to a needy orphanage. Unfortunately, the establishment just happens to be on a site coveted by Ebner Frost (Ed Begley Jr.), a mad scientist who knows rare, energy-charged crystals can be mined far below the building. Aided by flunkies who are naughty, not nice , Frost plans to evict the orphans. Thorne, of course, has different ideas.

“Santa With Muscles” is written, acted and directed in the style of a second-rate Saturday morning kids’ show from the 1970s. The orphans are cloyingly cute, the bad guys are frenetically cartoonish, and the humor is broad , physical and painfully unfunny. Hogan evinces little of the charisma he has displayed in previous bigscreen outings most notably, “Suburban Commando” and gives a performance that seldom rises above the level of good try. The supporting players range from barely adequate to thoroughly obnoxious. Clint Howard is particularly embarrassing as a highway patrolman on Thorne’s trail.

Working from an irredeemably bland screenplay, John Murlowski directs with all the enthusiasm of someone going through the motions to pay off a debt. Michael Gfelner’s cinematography is likewise bland, and other tech credits are equally unremarkable. Call it the movie equivalent of coal in a Christmas stocking, and you won’t be far off the mark.

Santa with Muscles

Production

A Legacy Releasing presentation of a HIT Entertainment production in association with Cabin Fever Entertainment. Produced by Brian Shuster. Executive producers, Harry Shuster, Jordan Belfort, Danny Porush. Co-producers, James R. Rosenthal, M. Charles Cuddy. Directed by John Murlowski. Screenplay, Jonathan Bond, Fred Mata, Dorrie Krum Raymond.

Crew

Camera (color), Michael Gfelner; editors, William Marrinson, Stephen R. Myers; music, James Covell; production design, Chuck Connor; costumes, Cathryn Wagner; sound (Dolby), Patrick M. Griffith; line producer, Paula F. Major; assistant director, David Vincent Rimer; casting, Tom McSweeney. Reviewed at AMC Meyer Park 16 Theater, Houston, Nov. 11, 1996. MPAA rating: PG. Running time: 97 MIN.

With

Blake - Hulk Hogan
Lenny - Don Stark
Leslie - Robin Curtis
Clayton - Garrett Morris
Elizabeth - Aria Noelle Curzon
Taylor - Adam Wylie
Sarah - Mila Kunis
Helen Chu - Jennifer Paz
Hinkley - Clint Howard
Ebner Frost - Ed Begley Jr.
With: William Newman, Robert Apisa, Pierre Dulat, SteveValentine, Kai Ephron, Diane Robin, Kevin West.
Want to read more articles like this one? SUBSCRIBE TO VARIETY TODAY.
Post A Comment 0

Leave a Reply

No Comments

Comments are moderated. They may be edited for clarity and reprinting in whole or in part in Variety publications.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

More Film News from Variety

Loading