Suburban Commando (1991, New Line Cinema)
In 1991, the winds of cultural change were upon us. The age of ’80s excess was over and the country was headed for a recession. Despite all of this, the Hulk Hogan vehicle Suburban Commando made its way into theaters that June and then received a wide release in October. It is a family comedy/sci fi action movie with a decidedly goofy “eighties” feel featuring a good guy intergalactic warrior stranded on Earth who ends up renting a room from a family and the typical fish-out-of-water comedy and chaos ensues. Of course, there is a heartfelt message underneath all the humor as the muscle-bound Shep Ramsay character and the Wilcox family all come out better people who having known each other.
Yes, I guess you could say this is a “kids” movie. I certainly remember dragging my mom to the theater to see it when it came out. Maybe it’s just nostalgia but I still find some parts of this movie funny. Maybe not laugh out loud funny, it’s all very hokey and Hulk was never a great actor but the movie still has some charm to it and sometimes clever writing.
According to Wikipedia, the movie was originally title Urban Commando and the roles of Shep Ramsay was offered to Arnold Schwarzenegger while family man Charlie Wilcox was offered to Danny DeVito. Both passed and ended up making Twins together instead. The script was later bought by New Line and Hogan was plugged into the role. I’m not sure how much of the script was changed since Hogan came on board but watching the movie now, it is obvious this fun romp could have been improved greatly if a better actor was in place as Shep. Christopher Lloyd’s performance on the other hand is just fine.
As a kid though, I didn’t think about casting choices. I was just excited to see Hogan on the big screen. Then (and now) I think he looks pretty cool in his body armor. Man, I wish this movie would’ve been a hit so I could’ve had a Shep Ramsay action figure or even a Suburban Commando 2. I remember desperately hoping a sequel would come about only that time I would have wanted it to take place in space and be more of an sci fi action/adventure film. I really enjoyed the opening minutes of the film when it actually did take place space (where now it’s pretty hilarious to see Shep leave the planet’s president for dead). I wanted to see what Shep could really do out there across the galaxies! My thoughts on Christopher Lloyd at the time were that I thought it was extremely weird seeing him in a role other than Doc Brown.
I rented this movie a lot when I was younger but never owned it until about 2002 when I special ordered a VHS copy from the video I worked at… It’s still sealed! It was released on DVD later that year much to my dismay (I wasted five bucks!) but I haven’t upgraded yet. I’m sure I could head over to Walmart right now and a find a copy in their $5 DVD bin. It’s also available on one of those 2 movies in 1 DVDs along with Mr. Nanny (which is another fish-out-of-water family comedy starring Hogan) but Mr. Nanny was awful.
Now if only New Line could release No Holds Barred… I still can’t figure out why they haven’t.