The Scoop: 1991 PG, directed by Burt Kennedy and starring Hulk Hogan, Christopher Lloyd and Shelley Duvall
Tagline: Right suburb. Wrong planet.
Summary Capsule: Strong space guy brings war, not peace, to suburban home
Justin’s Rating: K.O. in one round
Justin’s Review: For some reason, people who are highly successful as a celebrity in one area seem to naturally assume they’ll be awesome in other categories as well. And thus you get writers attempting to be rock stars (Stephen King), models pretending to be actors (Paris Hilton), actors striving to be politicians (Arnold Schwartzenegger), and singers embarrassing themselves all over the place (Britney Spears, anyone who’s ever been on American Idol, Mariah Carey). Why we have to humor their sad attempts at cross-genre appeal is beyond me, except that sometimes it’s an amusing diversion to see someone humiliate themselves so thoroughly.
Enter wrestlers who think that the large crowds cheering them on nightly are actually chanting “ACT! ACT! ACT IN A FEATURE FILM!”, and suddenly we’re plagued with Dwayne Johnson, Jesse Ventura and Hulk Hogan trying to clog our movie arteries. Of course, I can’t blame the Hulk too much – if I had that moustache, I’d think I was capable of anything too.
Trying to construct a movie based around the talents of Mr. Hogan was a shaky endeavor at best. He’s got two primary attributes – balding and hulky – and that’s about it. But there’s something undeniable about his presence, which is why filmmakers have worked around his limitations by putting him in such simple roles as a wrestler (Rocky III, No Holds Barred), superboat-driving mercenary (Thunder in Paradise), nanny (Mr. Nanny), and, um, Santa With Muscles. (Just a thought – Santa Without Muscles would be an incredibly freaky-looking red-and-white blob, would he not?) I have yet to see all of the aforementioned, but after sacrificing my eyes to the minor-level deity known as Suburban Commando, I think they found Hulk’s niche: gung-ho intergalactic bum.
You’d naturally assume that a movie starring a wrestler who plays a space commando forced to hide out in suburban Earth for a few weeks would be appallingly bad. And it is, don’t get me wrong. But unlike many bad movies we’ve covered on this site, Suburban Commando is wall-to-wall entertaining, even through its silly machinations. It was obviously made for young kids who idolized the WWF/WWE back in the day, and as such, there’s no shortage of cartoony stunts, not-so-snappy one-liners, and thoroughly ridiculous situations that everyone takes in stride as matter of fact.
Hulk plays Ramsey, a one-man army who is seen at the outset taking out a Star Destroyer’s worth of bad guys without breaking too much of a sweat. Unfortunately, his ship runs out of power (or something) and he’s forced to land on Earth and take an extended paid absence from brutal mass murder in the name of intergalactic justice. Now, this would’ve been a much different movie had Ramsey landed in the middle of Indonesia (Jungle Commando) or Iran (Infidel Commando) or Canada (Hockey Commando), but – like all movie characters, ever – Ramsey has a soft spot for California, and decides to slum it out at Christopher “Great Scott!” Lloyd’s pad while he waits for his ship to recharge.
His new landlord is a wimpy soul who gets railroaded by his boss and has to endure wife Shelly Duvall’s constant come-ons (brr!). His stress factor is not helped by the discovery that his new tenant is prone to ‘roid rage and is an alien to boot. Christopher Lloyd seems to be stuck doing his Doctor Brown freak-out impression – you know, from when he goes on the whole “1.21 JIGAWATTS!!!!” rant. Now stretch that rant to roughly half the film, and that’s the pleasure you’ll be missing.
Most of the movie is your typical fish-out-of-water tomfoolery – Ramsey keeps beating up a mime, Ramsey foils crime for some reason, Ramsey finds Earth customs quaint, Ramsey shows off how strong he is, Ramsey scares little kids half to death. It’s only toward the back end of this snappy flick that a pair of space bounty hunters (one of whom is another wrestler, The Undertaker) track Ramsey down for a showdown of wits and bravado.
As I said, it’s an entertaining sort of bad, such as when robbers steal Ramsey’s freeze gun to rob a bank and end up putting a small crowd into frozen carbonite, or when Hulk Hogan sports a pair of jams and tries to learn how to skateboard.
Ah, the early 90’s. So young. So naïve. So full of bad, bad taste.
- Wow, that opening shot was not ripped off of Star Wars at ALL!
- You know he’s a bad guy when he has an extensive collection of human skulls in glass containers
- Galactic Narc Duty sounds 100% awesome
- Christopher Lloyd as a mad inventor? Get out!
- What an absolutely rockin’ opening theme
- So he lands in the middle of a 1970’s disco?
- Ah, suburbia, where your raving neighbor sits in a decommissioned army jeep and your other neighbor fixes his drag racer in front of your house.
- Shelly Duvall… not sexy. Please stop trying to be sexy. Please.
- Even space-faring cultures use hand-drawn sketches on paper for wanted ads
- All arcade games come with little white flags for surrender
- It’s suburbia scored by Jamaican bands
- Nobody honks at you if you have a frozen corpse standing half out of your car
- Mmm… Surfin’ Burger
- The film was originally titled “Urban Commando”, and was intended for Danny DeVito and Arnold Schwarzenegger who opted to make Twins instead.
- The machine that Ramsey used to find the freeze laser is the PKE Meter from Ghost Busters
- Special effects technician Michael Colvin was accidentally killed on the stage of the second unit visual effects shoot when he fell through a trap door while testing it.
- At least once, Shelley Duvall’s character is referred to as ‘Shelley’ rather than ‘Jenny’ in the film.
Charlie Wilcox: I was FROZEN today!
Margie Tanen: Strike out?
Charlie Wilcox: I didn’t even get up to bat.
Shep Ramsey: They’re here.
Charlie Wilcox: Who’s here?
Shep Ramsey: A couple of leeches that make their living of the blood of others.
Charlie Wilcox: Investment bankers?
Shep Ramsey: Bounty hunters!
If You Liked This Movie, Try These:
- Santa With Muscles
- Kindergarten Cop
- Back to the Future