Sunday, May 16, 2010

Cheap Thrills: Suburban Commando (1991)

Cheap Thrills is a column on The Following Preview featuring movies that can be had new at certain stores for $5 or less. Today's movie is the action-thriller Suburban Commando (1991), which I found at a Big Lots! store for $3.00.

There were three movie series I grew up on: Ghostbusters, Back to the Future, and Home Alone and that was pretty much it. I was only allowed to see movies that were rated G or PG, and instead of bothering to look for other things to capture my imagination, the seven films that comprised those three franchises at the time were basically my comfort zone.

Eventually, my parents started to resist my desires to just watch the same thing over and over, and I was forced to branch out. I chose to take baby steps, and just followed the actors. This led me to movies like Groundhog Day, Richie Rich, Life With Mikey, and Suburban Commando.

I vividly remember getting the VHS tape from behind the counter at Safeway, and discovering that while the box said the film was rated PG, the tape itself had the PG-13 logo on it. I was excited. Time to see some intense stuff, I thought. When the movie started and the human-looking villain has his hand chopped off, the image burned itself into my brain.

Today, Suburban Commando is fascinatingly disjointed. For about 10 minutes, the movie moves at a normal pace and even appears to have a plot, but then it suddenly and decisively devolves into a Greatest Hits compilation of Hulk Hogan doing impressive feats. He's lifting the kids! He's throwing a skateboard into space! He's bench-pressing workshop machinery! After 20 minutes of this, the movie gets bored and devolves further into random wacky antics. Hulk squishes a melon in an old lady's face! Hulk tries to skateboard! Hulk punches a mime! Whoooooa!

Miraculously, Suburban Commando stays pretty fast-paced and earnest about all of this nonsense (as opposed to insistent and belabored), which actually creates some goodwill towards the movie and Hogan's character. Sure, he's not a very good actor (his range seems to consist of how wide he has his eyes opened), but he seems relatively cheerful regardless of what's going on, even when he's supposed to be annoyed.

I wrote the above paragraphs about two months ago, and I don't want to delete them. However, other than mentioning what appeared to be an attempted rape sequence (which Christopher Lloyd heroically foils), I've already forgotten everything about Suburban Commando, which probably sums up the viewing experience in a nutshell. The movie is so forgettable, it's actually managed to partially delete the hand-capitation that I claimed had "burned itself into my brain". (If anyone finds me and I've become a complete and total amnesiac, blame Suburban Commando.) The DVD comes with widescreen and full-screen presentations, and a set-top game of some sort. Sadly, I can't recommend it. Save your three dollars for something more critical, like a third of a city parking fee, and rent the movie on Netflix instead, if you have to see it again. I guarantee it will be 90 minutes of surprisingly-pleasant-but-also-moronic childhood memories.

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