Christmas Cracker: Santa With Muscles (1996)
Currently sitting at #74 in the Bottom 100 Movies list on IMDb, I expected Santa With Muscles to be a real endurance test. Unbelievably, it wasn’t actually that bad. Well, not that bad for a Hulk Hogan vehicle that also wants to celebrate the spirit of Christmas.
Hogan plays a rich man who lives life by a set of cyncal and self-serving rules. He’s definitely more of a “bah, humbug” type than a “ho ho ho” kind of guy. Which makes the situation all the more amusing, allegedly, when a series of circumstances lead to him losing his memory and being tricked by a mall elf (Don Stark) into thinking he is Santa. As Santa, he gets involved with some kids from a local orphanage, helping them avoid the plans of a scheming villain (Ed Begley Jr.) who wants to evict them and get his hands on their property. And I am sure you can guess how everything plays out.
Take a pinch of Christmas amnesia (although it’s more often the real Santa who ends up forgetting that he’s actually Santa in other Christmas movies), a little bit of Home Alone, and a whole lotta Hulk Hogan and this is what you get. The rest of the cast includes Clint Howard (playing a hapless traffic cop), Robin Curtis, Garrett Morris, and a teeny tiny Mila Kunis. Steve Valentine gets to play a panto villain, portraying the main assistant to Ed Begley Jr.
Directed by John Murlowski, this sits halfway between acceptably competent and slightly shoddy. The script, written by THREE people, doesn’t help. Surely Jonathan Bond, Fred Mata, and Dorrie Krum Raymond just got together for a couple of hours, drank a couple of hot chocolates, and then knocked out a script that consisted of 60 pages with the words “Hulk Hogan in a Santa suit alongside kids” typed on every page.
But let’s not rush to be unduly harsh. It’s clear from the silliness of the opening sequence that this is aimed at kids, and it just about works. I am no apologist when it comes to family fare, especially when movies “for kids” have grown even more sophisticated and rewarding in the past few decades, but I also know that some of the over the top shenanigans on display here, and some of the obvious overacting, will actually entertain younger viewers more than any adults watching.
Certainly a film worth avoiding, if possible, but I am sure there are many worse options out there. And if they somehow remade this with Dwayne Johnson in the lead role instead, I’m not going to lie, I’d be down with that.
DIRECTOR: JOHN MURLOWSKI
WRITER: JONATHAN BOND, FRED MATA, DORRIE KRUM RAYMOND
STARS: HULK HOGAN, DON STARK, ROBIN CURTIS, GARRETT MORRIS, MILA KUNIS, ED BEGLEY JR, CLINT HOWARD, STEVE VALENTINE
RUNTIME: 97 MINS APPROX