Santa with Muscles (review)

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Ho Ho No!

Who was it who said “Comedy is not pretty”? This is what he meant.

Santa with Muscles is a deeply awful comedy — not that I am in the least bit surprised, with a title like that. Even the cast and crew must have been embarrassed to be a part of this, because the opening credits appear onscreen in an illegible red type, as if no one involved really wanted any public acknowledgment of that fact.

For what turns out, in the end, to be a pretty stupid reason, big bad meanie Ebner Frost (Ed Begley Jr.) — a fruitcake of Howard Hughes proportions, with his aversion to breathing regular old air — wants to take over the orphanage in a small California town. (At least, I assume it’s California, because there’s a lot of desert and people are walking around in shirtsleeves on Christmas Eve. Perhaps since only the moms of the cast and crew would ever be expected to sit through the flick, no one figured that that small audience would need to be told where the action was taking place. And if Mom did wonder, well, an answer was only a phone call away: “Where was it that you worked on that movie, dear?”) Wee blond orphaned tyke Elizabeth (Aria Noelle Curzon) writes a letter to Santa, asking for his help.

Her wish gets answered, unfortunately, by health and exercise guru Blake Thorne (Hulk Hogan — you thought he couldn’t act? You were right.), “the richest man in ten states,” thanks to his own line of health foods and products. Blake is the kind of man who requires his employees to memorize his rules — all 386 of them — which are such insightful gems as “Never surrender.” For reasons too inane and contrived to go into… Oh, okay: During a paintball game gone awry, Blake is forced to flee from dimbulb cop Hinkley (Clint Howard: EDTV, Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me). He hides out in a shopping mall and disguises himself in a Santa suit. Then — and here’s the really stupid part — a bang on the head makes him think he’s really Santa. And then he foils a robbery of charity money intended for the orphanage, and decides to head over there to see if he can be of any assistance. If a knock to the noggin is all it takes to turn a self-centered prick like Blake into an altruistic crusader, can we try this with, say, Donald Trump?

Did I say “comedy”? Alleged comedy, I should have said. Believe me, it’s even dumber than it sounds.

In charge of the orphanage is Leslie (Robin Curtis, aka Star Trek‘s Saavik — what does an actress think when she’s offered a role like this? Perhaps it’s just a deep sigh, and At least there’s no nudity.). Leslie invites “Santa” and his creepy helper “elf” Lenny (Don Stark) to stay at the orphanage. Why? Even the scriptwriter doesn’t know. Here’s the scary bit, though: During the night, one of the few remaining orphans alters Blake’s Santa suit: whittling it down to a V neck with muscle sleeves, and adding a Batman-style utility belt and studded black leather gloves. Now, what I want to know is this: What are studded black leather gloves doing in an orphanage? Exactly what are Leslie and the caretaker, Clayton (Garrett Morris: Twin Falls Idaho), getting up to in the evenings?

There are many endless fist fights as Blake takes on Frost and his ridiculous henchmen. There is also much bad acting, and some bad puns to boot, like “Santa, you sleigh me.” It hurts. It really does.

A thoroughly nonheartwarming tale of fisticuffs, Santa suits with muscle shirts, protein powder, and a Cindy Brady clone with a squeaky lisp who sings to her dead mother, Santa with Muscles is one of the most nonsensical movies I’ve ever seen, truly silly in no good way.

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