Looking back at Santa With Muscles, with Hulk Hogan

It's nearly Christmas, so it's time to watch, er, Santa With Muscles. Because not enough films feature Hulk Hogan as Santa.

Who amongst us can honestly say they’ve never looked at Santa Claus and thought ‘Where are his muscles? And shouldn’t he be sleeveless with a handlebar moustache?’

I’m not saying Christmas would be better if Hulk Hogan was Santa Claus, but it would definitely be different. In fact, no, I am saying that Christmas would be better if Hulk Hogan was Santa Claus. Of course it would be. 2am Christmas morning and Santa kicks down your front door, tears off his shirt, leaves you some presents, eats a mince pie, smashes somebody in the face with a steel chair and then leaves. That might be the sexiest thing I’ve ever written.

You’ll never read this sentence on Den Of Geek again, but I’d advise you to take a moment to ice down your nether regions before proceeding with the article.

Santa With Muscles is a family action comedy that tells the story of aggressive millionaire fartblaster Blake Thorne who, while hiding from the police because of his dickish behaviour, hits his head. Thorne loses his memory, is tricked into thinking he’s Santa Claus by a man dressed as an elf and then sets about saving an orphanage from an even worse millionaire fartblaster.

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The film starts with a voice over that represents a kid writing to Santa and it’s here that it first gets something wrong. The kid is telling Santa about a bad man (the even worse millionaire fartblaster) who lives locally. Kid, that’s not how you write to Santa. You introduce yourself, tell him you’ve been good (lying if necessary) and then provide a list of Argos pages and catalogue numbers. If there’s something you really want, it’s okay to cut out the picture of the item and stick it onto your letter.

Worse still, this kid is writing to Santa to ask for something for someone else. What a suck-up. I know your game, suck-up kid. You think that asking for stuff for someone else will make you look good and then you’ll get more presents. Nice try, but it never works because it’s such a classic suck-up move that everyone, especially Santa who deals with thousands of other suck-up kids like you every year, knows exactly what you’re doing.

Then you find out that the kid is an orphan and you feel just terrible about the whole ‘suck-up’ thing.

So my first complaint about the film is on me. That was me being judgemental and the film can’t be held accountable for that. I think you’ll find I’m entirely blameless for all of the other ridiculous things in Santa With Muscles, though. That’s what this article is; a look at some of the ridiculous things that go on in this.

I’m sad to report that Santa With Muscles is a film with some problems. Let’s start with the biggest problem of all, which occurs on Hulk Hogan’s face. I’d like to direct you attention to the picture below. Anyone care to explain what the fuck is going on over Hulk Hogan’s top lip?

Where is his proper moustache? At first I thought it was just part of the plot, that the sides of his moustache had been kidnapped and that the film would be about him trying to get them back, but no. For no reason at all, Hulk Hogan just has a normal moustache rather than a Hulk Hogan moustache. It feels particularly cynical, because his real moustache features on the front cover, which you’ll find pictured below (please note that shirtless pro wrestlers are not included in this film).

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So, in other words, Christmas is ruined.

We’re introduced to Hogan’s Blake Thorne as he fights his entire house staff on the grounds of his mansion. He likes to stay combat sharp, you see. The fight scenes are a bit like The Raid if The Raid was… nah, I’m not doing that joke. To credit the team behind Santa With Muscles, they’re able to effectively communicate that Blake Thorne is a dick within 30 seconds of introducing him. There is an issue, though, in that the scene continues for another few minutes afterwards, really jamming the point home.

In fact, the whole film is much too long. If your movie stars Hulk Hogan you only need 80 minutes. An hour and 20 minutes is exactly the right amount of time for Hulk Hogan to get the job done, regardless of what the job is. Anything more and you’re stretching your Hulkamania out too thin. There is, obviously, a Rocky III exception. And none of this is to insult Hogan’s performance; his hammy turn here is exactly for the tone. What’s he meant to do in an action comedy that features so many scenes of him relaxing happily?

Lights, camera, inaction!

The film’s villains, meanwhile, are trying to shut down an orphanage. It’s no wonder they’re the villains. It turns out, right, that there’s a cave beneath the orphanage that’s filled with electric crystals worth millions of dollars. The main villain, played Ed Begley Jnr., sends his assistants, evil scientists who are all wearing fancy dress for no reason, out to cause trouble for the orphans. This element of the film is a bit odd.

For a start, we have a scene where these idiots in novelty costumes are laughing at Hulk Hogan because he’s dressed as Santa. Who am I meant to make fun of here? Also, even when they get harassment right, which doesn’t feel like a huge accomplishment, we are still left pondering just how many stages there were in the decision making process of a film that features a scene where a millionaire pays a buffoon to brick the window of an orphanage for basically no reason.

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One of these assistant villains essentially sprays farts into people’s faces, which I’m on board with. Weirdly, though, he’s carrying little fart tanks around and using a fart hose. You hate to point this out to people, but to the guys behind Santa With Muscles; that’s not how farting in someone’s face works. It’s not even how regular farting works. Also, because of this character at one point your movie appears to spray farts all over itself.

The strangest character of the film, though, is Don Stark’s Lenny. Lenny is introduced to us playing an elf at the mall. He finds an unconscious Blake Thorne and, when the muscle bound millionaire awakes, tells Blake that he’s actually Santa because he just does, okay. To be fair to Lenny, I’m not sure whether it’s worse to tell a confused, likely concussed, man that he’s Santa Claus or Hulk Hogan.

As the film played out I found I had some questions for Lenny. Here are some of them.

Seriously Lenny, what is going on with you?

Why do you keep making Hulk Hogan be Santa when you’re yet to find any way for it to benefit you?

Where did you get an adult size sheep onesie in an orphanage? Do you just carry it around with you?

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Are you alright?

Actually, Lenny is trying to steal Blake’s money, and tricking Blake into thinking he’s Santa helps him achieve that in no way. He figures he can just take Blake’s money out of a cash machine using the wallet he stole from him, and in order to do that, he needs some of Blake’s DNA. I’m not one of those people who goes on about science having to be accurate in films, but for the plot for this film to work you have to not know how cash machines work. That’s quite a niche audience.

This all leads to a slow motion shot of Hulk Hogan drinking milk while a grown man dressed in a sheep onesie imagines a computer offering him money. Ladies and gentlemen, this film had a theatrical release!

Santa With Muscles should end much sooner than it does, and not just out of mercy for the audience. Rather, Hulk almost saves the day at the end of the second act. He beats up all of the bad guys but then he gets thrown off the roof of the orphanage by Christmas decorations. No, honestly, he does. Incidentally, how did this film do at the box office? It tanked? No, I get it.

Blake hits his head again when he tumbles off the orphanage and his memory returns, but he decides to help the orphans anyway. Isn’t that nice?

The film really struggles with the memory loss concept. Hulk Hogan thinks he’s really Santa, right? But if he thinks he’s Santa, what does he make of the fake beard and wig? And, unrelated, are his leather gloves making anyone else feel uncomfortable? It takes Hulk Hogan an hour to suspect that he might not be Santa Claus. If they’d told him he was Jesus we may have gotten a sequel.

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Hulk also finds out that he grew up in the orphanage but had forgotten, even though he already has his memory back by this point. Just how many times did he get hit in the head? Also, why did the orphanage people not tell him? He’s been hanging out with them for the entire film, thinking he’s Santa, and they never think to mention that they actually know him and that he’s not.

Perhaps it’s the nature of memory loss films; the character doesn’t learn to change, they’re tricked into it and then they have to retain their reprogramming when they inevitably hit their head again. It sort of only works because the dangerous blow to the head doesn’t have the same effect second time around. The Hulkster is only able to save the children because he ends up with a particularly convenient brain injury. Still, if Hulk Hogan is able to save an orphanage due to a brain injury, who am I to complain? A win’s a win.

Post memory return, we’re offered a parallel with an earlier scene to demonstrate how Thorne has been changed. We’re shown Thorne leading Clint Howard, playing a police officer, and several other cops in two high speed car chases; the first chase is selfish millionaire fartblaster Thorne, and the second is Santa Thorne, muscle-bound friend to orphans. He’s doing the exact same awful thing, leading the cops on a chase, but this time he’s being chased by the police en route to performing a violent deed for a good cause! If anything, the second time around, he appears to be actively trying to kill the police. Hulk Hogan started this film as a violent egomaniac, but after spending some time helping orphans, he’s somehow gotten more dangerous.

And as if all that wasn’t bad enough, the film somehow manages to make car chases boring. It’s a Christmas unmiracle!

Less forgivably, Santa With Muscles somehow manages to botch the concept of Santa Claus.

“Look, Santa’s beating some guy up!” shouts a kid in the mall, as Hogan first steps out in costume to tackle some charity-box stealing bumblefucks. Then, in front of a crowd of awe-struck little’uns, he pummels the shit out of two guys. Seeing Santa in a state of Hulkamania surely can’t be good for children. As fun as it would be in a proper guns and explosion action film, in a light action family adventure film a zero tolerance violent Santa Claus just doesn’t feel like a good idea to me. Really, all Santa preaches is ‘be nice and you’ll be rewarded’. That’s Santa’s whole deal. As Santa, Hulk Hogan finishes the film teaching orphans to laugh at prison inmates.

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So, er, that’s Santa With Muscles, then. It’s inoffensive and undeserving of vitriol, but I can’t even begin to imagine what you could find in this film to enjoy. Asides for an appearance from a young Mila Kunis, this one is really only notable because it exists. And it’s taken me over 2000 words to say that! Makes you question who the real villain is, doesn’t it?

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