Suburban Commando

Movie review by
Barbara Shulgas..., Common Sense Media
Suburban Commando Movie Poster Image
Goofy '90s Hulk Hogan comedy has lots of slapstick violence.
  • PG
  • 1991
  • 90 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

With Shep as an example of courage, Charlie learns to be brave. Self-esteem can come from standing up for yourself.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Shep fights intergalactic evil. Charlie works hard and protects his family.

Violence

Using superhuman strength and wiles, Shep shoots, punches, crunches, and tosses around bad guys. The mayhem is mostly played for comic effect, much of it shot to echo Three Stooges stunts with rubber hammers and the like. General Suitor's hand is cut off, and a scary lizard-like one grows back. His life threatened, Charlie grabs Suitor’s testicles, which triggers the bad guy to shed human form and appear as his slimy eight-foot lizard self. Charlie mock-drag races with his fellow commuters every morning. Shep falls while trying to skateboard. Mechanics next door block Charlie's driveway and threaten him. A purse snatcher is caught, and seeming rapists (one says, “She’s mine first”) are thwarted. Shep upends the sports car of two teenagers who drive recklessly through the suburban neighborhood.

Sex

Charlie's wife appears in wig, black lingerie, silk robe after he’s had a hard day; he says he's "not in the mood." A secretary presses herself up against Shep while describing how she enjoys watching football’s "big burly boys beating the crap out of each other."

Language

"Shut up," "Christ," "smart-ass," "piss ass," and "crap."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Cocktail party guests drink. Shep drinks antifreeze to avoid being frozen by a space weapon.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Suburban Commando is a '90s movie starring Hulk Hogan. The violence is mostly slapstick and played for comedy, although the slimy and lizard-like alien villain may frighten small children. Spaceships and space weapons take a back seat to the Hulk’s brawn in many funny physical confrontations. Much of the humor and violence derive from his unfamiliarity with earthly ways. General Suitor’s hand is cut off, and a scary lizard-like one grows back. His life threatened, Charlie grabs Suitor’s testicles, which triggers the bad guy to shed human form and appear as his slimy eight-foot lizard self. Expect some innuendo and drinking; profanity includes "ass," "Christ," and "crap."

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What's the story?

Intergalactic enforcer Shep Ramsay (Hulk Hogan), the "suburban commando" of the title, is ordered to lay low on Planet Earth while seeking a power source to send him back home to the farther reaches of the universe. He's thwarted another plot by the evil General Suitor (William Ball) to rule said universe, so other minions of evil are out to get him. When he rents a room from Charlie (Christopher Lloyd) and his family in a nice suburban California community, he brings peril, however comic, to their doorstep. Charlie is an overly cautious draughtsman who learns to be daring from Shep, while Shep learns compassion from Charlie. Many comic situations stem from Shep's unfamiliarity with earthling ways.

Is it any good?

Given the banging, punching, and physicality you can expect of a Hulk Hogan movie, this guilty-pleasure comedy is surprisingly well-paced, clever, and fun. When Shep appears in a small town wearing his Star Wars getup, one pedestrian quips, "Guess you don’t shop off the rack much, huh, buddy?" Later, the intergalactic bounty hunters who dog him are even bulkier than Shep, but when one opens his menacing mouth, he speaks in a child's voice. "You’re a dead man, Ramsay," he peeps. Hogan plays Shep winkingly, without any pretension to great acting, which works fine here. Christopher Lloyd is solid as the underappreciated milquetoast Charlie. Music is used well to enhance the comic plotting and imagery, including a calypso "Jingle Bells" over images of frozen bank customers and the rousing William Tell Overture as Shep rides away into space.

Don’t expect an overarching sense of reality, though. When Shep gets ready to blast off in a new ship, you wonder where such a complex piece of rocketry came from and why no federal agency arrived to have a chat after the giant explosion his old ship caused. And some of the movie looks dated. But some kids may get a kick out of this silly story.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the movie's premise. Is it more of a comedy or science fiction?

  • Do you think space creatures live somewhere else in the universe? Why, or why not?

  • What's the appeal of cheesy, silly movies such as this? Does this one stand the test of time, or does it feel dated?

Movie details

For kids who love action and adventure

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