Apr 3, 2018
Santa with Muscles (1996) (part 2 of 11)
Cut to Hulk in his own pink doo-rag as he lays down the rules with the captain of the other team, a guy in a blue doo-rag. They agree on the rules, then Hulk immediately shoots the other captain with a pink paintball. He laughingly says, “Never trust the enemy, Captain!”
The captain of the other team screams and yells as Hulk runs to his Hummer and peels off. The guys with blue doo-rags then get in their own vehicles and chase Hulk down the street. So, wait, is this some new form of paintball that’s played on city streets? Interesting.
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Well, the fun is only just beginning, because we cut to a police car parked on the side of the road. Inside is this week’s Embarrassed Actor, Clint Howard, best known for playing Balok, as well as a NASA engineer in Apollo 13. So, I guess Ron wasn’t making any movies that month, was he?
Clint is playing with a radar detector, even making all the “boop boop”, “bzzzzzz”, and “whoo whoo whoo” sound effects. He then blows on the tip of the radar gun like a pistol [?], so I guess he was pretending like it was a phaser, or something? Hey, maybe that’s how they tricked Clint into appearing in this movie, by telling him he was doing another guest spot on Star Trek. (Hey, if the Rock can guest star on Voyager, why not the Hulkster?)
Regardless, a dirt bike soon comes flying over a hill and rides right across the hood of Clint’s police car. Next, Hulk and his Hummer convoy roar past. Clint yells into his police band radio, saying they must be “militia or terrorists” [!] before taking off in pursuit.
Instantaneously, Hulk’s Hummer is being pursued by three cop cars, with Clint taking up the rear. Hulk’s buddy in the passenger seat, proving to be the only sensible character in the movie, asks Hulk why he doesn’t just pull over. Hulk cries, “Rule #20: Never surrender!” Which I assume is also known as the Galaxy Quest Rule.
“Besides,” Hulk adds, “This is fun!” For who, exactly? Hulk asks for his paint gun, but when his buddy hands it over, he accidentally shoots Hulk in the side with it. This will turn out to be somewhat important later, but certainly not important enough to justify it being included at all.
Anyway, Hulk turns and starts shooting at one of the police cars, covering the windshield with paintballs. And if this were the LAPD, Hulk would already be lying face down on the asphalt with a nightstick up his rectum.
Instead, the police car does a standard Smokey and the Bandit-style spin out as Hulk literally thumbs his nose in the rearview mirror. The pursuit continues as they all pass a sign that says “North Pole – 5 miles”, and then another sign that says “Visit Santa at the Lakeville Mall” along with a drawing of Santa Claus. So, something tells me it’s supposed to be around Christmastime here. But there’s no snow on the ground, the sun is shining, and everyone’s wearing short sleeves. I have to assume we’re somewhere in California, but of course no one ever says.
Hulk decides to head for Lakeville because there’s lots of places to hide there, adding, “I grew up there!” Which will also become somewhat important later. But again, take the term “important” with a grain of salt. The biggest, hugest grain of salt you can find.
Meanwhile, a cop fires a shotgun out his window, which hits the Santa sign and “hilariously” blasts out both of Santa’s eyes. Hah! The weird thing is, he only fires once, and yet we actually see two distinct bullet hits.
Cut to Lakeview Mall, which could pretty much be Anymall, USA. I’m pretty sure there’s a Wetzel’s Pretzels, a Wet Seal, and one of those kiosks where you can put your face on a t-shirt just out of camera range. There’s also a “North Pole” and “Santa’s Cottage” set up in the middle of the mall, complete with fake snow and white picket fence.
Nearby, an old woman snoozes under a banner that reads “Help Save the Childrens [sic] Mission”. On the table in front of her is a picture of the orphanage from the opening credits, along with a big, open, inviting bowl full of cash. And don’t think that won’t be important later. Er, I mean, “important”.
A long line of kids waits at the cottage and stretches past the Sam Goody, and we see their parents impatiently looking at their watches. A bleach blonde in a miniskirt stands at the front of the line and yells into her walkie-talkie, asking after the whereabouts of “Mr. Claus”. The guy on the other end of the line says there’s no trace of Santa, but offers her “a midget in a clown suit” instead [??].
Meanwhile, the police continue to pursue Hulk into town. Hulk opens the door to his Hummer and tells his buddy, “Rule #21: When in doubt, get out! Later!” He then jumps out [!] of the speeding Hummer and lands on the pavement completely unscathed. Then there’s a shot of his buddy in a panic as he climbs over into the driver’s seat, and during this the little warning bell lets him know the door is open. Okay, that almost made me smile. I’m man enough to admit it.
Back at Santa’s Cottage, the kids start chanting Santa’s name like they’re at a Van Halen concert. An “elf” peers out the front door of the cottage to take a gander at the crowd, and if you look closely enough, you can actually see a guy dressed as Santa Claus wandering around inside the cottage. Oops! Guess we weren’t supposed to see that!
Cut to inside the cottage where, in an inspired comic twist, all the “elves” are playing poker. Meanwhile, some other “elf” is on his cell phone talking to his loan shark, or his bookie, or somebody he owes a lot of money. This is Lenny, and sadly, he’ll be one of our main characters. Even sadder, he’s played by Don Stark, better known for later playing Donna’s dad on That 70’s Show.
Just then, Bleach Blondie in the miniskirt walks in and offers fifty bucks to the first elf that can find her a Santa Claus. Lenny gets a whiff of the cash and tells the guy on the phone that his “luck may have just changed”, and hangs up.
On the other side of the line, we see the elf was talking to one of Ebner Frost’s goons. Huh? Ebner Frost is a loan shark? This will never be explained in a satisfactory way, so you can stop hoping now.
“Lighthearted” orchestral music takes over at the Frost estate, and Frost’s goon, a guy with a British accent dressed like the Doctor from Prince and the Revolution, stands outside and makes a note into his hand-held tape recorder. He says, “Seek payment from Lenny today, or cause mass hemorrhaging!”
He then turns to someone unseen and introduces himself as Frost’s personal physician, Dr. Blight. As in, the blight this movie will leave on the actor’s resume? Blight is played by Steve Valentine, who’s a regular on Crossing Jordan. (Unless they already cancelled that show. I’m not really sure.)
Anyway, we see the guy Blight is talking to, namely a dude in a business suit who’s hanging upside down in gravity boots. Of course, we get the obvious “camera is upside-down, then turns right-side up” shot to reveal him. The guy cries out for help as a TV monitor is wheeled before him.
The monitor comes to life to reveal a live picture of Mr. Frost himself, Ed Begley, Jr. Oh, boy. Not to be unfair towards Mr. Begley or his body of work, but when was the last time you said, “Oh, sweet! Ed Begley’s in this?” In other words, he’s affordable. And not to preemptively give anybody Repeat Offender status, but you’ll soon be seeing Ed on this site again in his landmark role of “Rescuer #1”.
Anyway, Begley demands that Upside Down Guy sell his shoe store. Meanwhile, Dr. Blight heads towards the house, taking great care to pass through jets of steam on his way inside. He even passes through an archway covered in Saran wrap. So, no freezer burn on this estate.
Meanwhile, back on the TV monitor, Begley makes an idiotic “hanging around” quip before introducing his three henchmen. In accordance with the stupidity of this film, each one has been given his or her own “quirky” (i.e., “brainless”) defining trait.
First up is “world-renowned geologist” Mr. Flint, a guy in safari clothes. Flint takes a brush to Mr. Upside Down’s face and calls him an “interesting fossil”. These actions suggest to me an archaeologist, not a geologist, but hey, I’m not the professional screenwriter here.
Next up is “Canadian chemist” [??] Mr. Vial, with full, unwelcome pun on “vile”. He’s got ammo belts criss-crossing his chest, but instead of shotgun shells, they’re filled with test tubes. Mr. Vial is a weasel-y looking bald guy with buck teeth who sprays green mist at Mr. Upside Down, declaring it to be methane. Apparently, methane comes in green these days. Vial calls it “nature’s perfume!” So what they’re trying to imply here is, the man likes the smell of his own farts. Classy.
Finally, there’s the “electrifyingly beautiful” Ms. Watt. What? Watt. She’s a bad Betty Page clone with gray streaks in her hair, and she’s wearing a leather jacket, a leopard-print head-scarf, and sunglasses. Sultry music plays as she holds a rose while cartoon electrical beams dance around her hands. She grips the rose tightly until electricity causes it to explode [?]. Okay, sure, electricity can do that. Why not? “Ah,” Ms. Watt sighs, “Spring!”