The notion of wrestling's blond behemoth Hulk Hogan caring for a couple of poor little rich kids has sweetly comic possibilities, but they're flattened out in the needlessly crass and lethally heavy-handed "Mr. Nanny" (citywide). Hogan, who is 6 foot, 6 inches and weighs in at 293 pounds, comes across as a genial giant with a sense of humor and a pleasing personality, but he's no actor.
Luckily, he's surrounded by reliable pros like Austin Pendleton and Sherman Hemsley.
Pendleton, who's unusually well-cast, plays a scientific genius who's become a computer tycoon. He's just invented an anti-ballistic device that has brought him a string of threatening calls and has hired Hogan, a down-on-his-luck wrestler, as a bodyguard for his two children (Robert Gorman, Madeline Zima).
Pendleton's Alex Mason is a loving father but also a self-absorbed workaholic widower. Spoiled on the one hand and neglected on the other, his children have turned into a pair of monsters with a relentless passion for playing pranks on their endless string of nannies. Clearly, they've met their match in Hogan's Sean Armstrong, who finds himself playing parent as well as protector.
It's too bad that director and co-writer (with Edward Rugoff) Michael Gottlieb didn't set his sights higher, because his movie should have been so much more fun. Gottlieb possesses little sense of rhythm and pacing, elements crucial to making Hogan's attempt at acting as effective as possible and to keeping the action and the comedy fast and furious.
But "Mr. Nanny" (rated PG for comic action and mild language) is a leaden business from start to finish, and the film's stars, plus Hemsley as Hogan's lively sidekick, David Johansen as the crazed villain of the piece and Mother Love as Pendleton's feisty cook, can't overcome Gottlieb's shortcomings.
Terry (Hulk) Hogan: Sean Armstrong
Austin Pendleton: Alex Mason Sr.
Robert Gorman: Alex Mason Jr.
Madeline Zima: Kate Mason
A New Line Cinema presentation. Director Michael Gottlieb. Producer Bob Engleman. Executive producers Benni Korzen, Micheal Harpster. Screenplay by Edward Rugoff, Gottlieb. Cinematographer Peter Stein. Editors Earl Ghaffari, Michael Ripps. Costumes Marianna Astrom-De Fina. Music David Johansen, Brian Koonin. Production design Don De Fina. Art director Jose Duarte. Set designer Ed Castiniera. Set decorator Barbara Peterson. Sound Henri Lopez. Running time: 1 hour, 23 minutes.
MPAA-rated PG (for comic action and mild language).