Quick Movie Review: Santa With Muscles (1996)


It’s no surprise that Hulk Hogan’s film career never really took off. The only lines he can deliver convincingly are the ones that don’t require any eyebrow movement. Even Arnold Schwarzenegger was able to make good comedies.

But sad to say, I’m not sure Schwarzenegger could have saved this one either. Though, he would have made it a little bit more funny.

The film is doomed from the start. The script is awful. There are plot holes you can drive a train through, and the dialogue is cringy–containing unique lines such as, “See ya! Wouldn’t wanna be ya!” and “‘Never turn your back on someone in need.’ A friend of mine once told me that.” Also, it builds up speed slower than my ’88 Volvo on the freeway. You start looking at your watch a mere 15 minutes into it. Luckily though, if you stick around long enough it gets slightly better I suppose.

The movie follows Blake (Hogan), a rich and selfish millionaire who gets hit on the head and wakes up thinking he’s Santa Claus. He has a sudden urge to help out an orphanage in danger of being closed down illegally.

It’s a clever concept full of potential, and actually has some glimpses of brightness shining through. But it fumbles most opportunities it has to be better, often choosing silliness over quality.

It’s one of those films where they give the strong protagonist all kinds of unrealistic powers, like the ability to throw a grown man over a 7-foot fence. It’s so ridiculous. I guess we have to remember it’s a movie targeted at children.

But then, why are there cops shooting RPGs at a car during a high-speed chase?

Also, what was the artistic decision to have it set in California rather than a snowy city? That simple change would have made it a lot more Christmasy.

Still, it has a touch of unexpected science fiction and some interesting twists that have pretty much no business in a film this poor, making it end up being way better than it starts out. Unfortunately, before these things come into the story, most viewers will have likely stopped watching already.

Twizard Rating: 48


Quick Movie Review: Jerry Maguire (1996)

I love movies that can’t necessarily be classified by a single genre. Jerry Maguire isn’t a chick flick, but it’s not a sports film either. Nor is it a traditional comedy. It’s possibly all three, but never just one. That’s what makes it great. It appeals to both genders equally without alienating either of them.

The title character is played by Tom Cruise in one of his best performances. He’s a slimy sports agent who, one day, has an epiphany, realizing he no longer wants to sell lies to his clients, but real relationships. The only problem is he doesn’t even know how to have a real relationship in his personal life. At work, he sends out a mission statement that lauds the idea of having less clients to improve quality. This sudden life-changing notion wins over the approval of his cohorts, but his high-level agency disapproves and fires him.

Starting from the ground up, Jerry has nothing and no one to work with. The only people that follow him are a low-level employee, Dorothy (Renee Zellweger) and Arizona Cardinals wide receiver, Rod Tidwell (Cuba Gooding, Jr.).

The chemistry between Cruise and both of his costars is natural that you can’t imagine anyone else in those roles. You see him seamlessly transform over the course of the film, only taking notice of it in the end. Honestly, it’s very much reminiscent of Pacino in the Godfather–only backwards.

Jerry Maguire equally covers the depth of multiple characters brilliantly. The film not only goes inside the mind of a scuzzbag-turned-nice-guy, but of an athlete. Gooding plays a talented football player with a chip on his shoulder. He’s not on his way out of the league, but he’s no Jerry Rice either. He’s on a middling NFL team and thinks he deserves a bigger paycheck than he gets. He knows he’s good, but no one else sees it. The film brings very relatable themes to seemingly unrelatable people. There is more to the movie than demand for money. It’s about friendship and knowing what’s important in life amidst all the menagerie.

Writer-director Cameron Crowe has a knack for storytelling–already evident by his previous work–but he outdoes himself with this one. Nothing is ever truly predictable, which is an impressive accomplishment considering the type of film. Never is there a dull moment, and the dialogue is so effortlessly perfect without ever feeling contrived. The sappy moments are never that, when any other writer would know no other way. It’s a rom-com for the ages and may even be the pinpoint for redefining the genre.

It has aged so well and is still a great watch to this day. Highly recommended for those of you who haven’t seen it and are arguing with your other half about what to watch on movie night. I promise you’ll both enjoy it.

Twizard Rating: 100

Quick Movie Review: Independence Day (1996)


Roland Emmerich has his hands all over this film–which isn’t a bad thing. Up until July of 1996, the best special effects we’d seen were still from Jurassic Park. But Independence Day came out one year before Titanic, so it held the title that whole time.

And for good reason. It’s so visually stunning that 20 years later, we’re still in awe of what we’re looking at. It sure helps make this film feel less dated.

Less dated. 20 years is long enough that we can say that, right?

Unfortunately, the schmaltzy dialogue doesn’t help its case. It may seem that most of the cast can’t act, but that’s just a result of a marginal script (besides Vivica A. Fox, who, in fact, can’t act).

Taking place around the fourth of July, a worldwide alien invasion is imminent, and the country is in a true panic. Amidst the many eventually-connecting subplots, the film concerns itself most with that of pilot Steve Hiller (Will Smith) and computer-wiz David Levinson (Jeff Goldblum). Both carry the film well and help provide levity to lighten an otherwise dry-by-today’s-standards action movie.

Judd Hirsch plays Goldblum’s father and has some truly brilliant scenes. Harry Connick Jr. and Randy Quaid give us a little something as well.

All of these attributes allow this film to hold up well. And it’s even more impressive despite its several pitfalls. It’s a true product of the ’90s, and even where it seems dated, it’s just enough to make us nostalgic.

Watching ID4 again reminds us how amazing Will Smith’s whole underachiever schtick is, making us want it back again. Hopefully he’ll step away from his Oscar-worthy performances and give us a well-deserved comedy one of these days.

Twizard Rating: 93

Quick Movie Review: Swingers (1996)


The movie that made us know Jon Favreau and Vince Vaughn will surely not disappoint. It’s humor is unique to the two leads, and is organic in the sense that it hits home for them. They believe what’s happening because they lived it.

Written by Favreau and loosely based on he and Vaughn’s life and friendship, Swingers is about a group of struggling actors who are involved in the ’90s Hollywood swing revival. It follows Mike (Favreau), a New York native who can’t get over his ex-girlfriend. But his friends, most notably Trent (Vaughn), try getting him out of his depression by forcing him back out onto the playing field.

Both leads are fantastic. Vaughn wows the audience with his unique brand of fast-talking humor. And Favreau is so convincing as a wallowing sad sack that you genuinely feel bad for the guy.

The scene towards the beginning where the pair of friends go to Las Vegas sets the tone for the entire movie. It establishes a style that is vehemently consistent throughout.

Swingers has everything that will make you want to drive to Los Angeles and Las Vegas right this second. It ties together the glitz and glamour of both cities, seamlessly connecting the two. But I think what captures the neon vibe of the film’s locations is the juxtaposition of failing to make it. This failure, of course, isn’t stressed. It’s still opportunity. It’s optimism.

Neither Mike nor Trent have had much success in the industry, but Trent is still having the time of his life, while Mike’s only reason to be down on himself is his breakup. The film paints a perfect portrait of confident mediocrity, and being complacent with it.

The story’s exposition takes its time, but in a perfect way. Every scene has a sincere purpose and contributes to establishing the depth of its characters. But it’s beyond just the characters. A movie is refreshingly good if even the circumstances have depth. In fact, that’s when it’s great.

Twizard Rating: 97