Tammy and the T-Rex (1994) — Denise Richards dates a dino

“Is that really you in there? Oh Michael, what have they done to you!”

Justin’s rating: This premise isn’t that uncommon. I actually dated a velociraptor named June for two weeks in high school myself.

Justin’s review: Tammy and the T-Rex is exactly the kind of cult movie that I love to discover. It’s the type of film where the more I hear about its setup, the more I’m like, “Yes. I am in like Flynn. How did I never hear about this before?”

Because what we have here is a movie that was solely made because the writer and director got unfettered access to a T. Rex animatronic and wrote an entire movie around it. That’s not me being mildly clever; that’s actually what happened. It’s also a movie that, by the way, stars Denise Richards (Starship Troopers) and Paul Walker (The Fast and the Furious) and has to do with a guy’s brain getting transplanted into a robotic dinosaur and his girlfriend kind of being cool with that.

I’m not going to pull the lever for hyperbolic speed here and say that this is the greatest idea for a movie ever, but if it ran for president in 2024? I’d vote for it.

At the core of this 17-time Academy Awards winner is a love triangle between Tammy (Richards), her new boyfriend Michael (Walker), and Tammy’s psychotic ex-boyfriend Billy (George Pilgrim). We’re barely out of the opening credits when Billy drags Michael down into a wonderfully ridiculous fight that includes at least 20 seconds of both guys grabbing each other’s Vin Diesels, squeezing, and screaming. As all of this is going on, the background performers ham it up to a ridiculous degree.

As these things go, this conflict leads to Michael getting mauled by a lion in the zoo and his crazy scientist uncle (who was the titular stiff from Weekend at Bernie’s) transplanting his brain into a jerky T. Rex robot. Mind you, this dinosaur can’t walk and can only move as much as any animatronic you might find in a science museum, but its limitations are overcome by the sheer acting will that’s wrapped around him. Anyway, crazy scientist, teenage brain in a dino, check.

While it takes a few minutes for Tammy to adjust to this update to her Facebook relationship status (“Going steady with a cyborg dinosaur”), she stays quite loyal to her sweetie. Even when sweetie goes on a murderous rampage against the teenage gang of kids that led to his problematic status. Actually, she seems to be even more into him than before, if that was possible.

There isn’t a part of this movie that’s not dumb beyond belief and yet stellar beyond the stars. Considering it was made by the same director who did Mac and Me and The Ice Pirates, I am not surprised at the unhinged weirdness on display here. It’s silly, glorious trash that knows exactly what it is and how many heads the audience wants to see bitten off.

Didja notice?

  • The titles call this “Tanny and the Teenage T-Rex” which I guess is close enough for government work
  • Bad cheerleading chants and Dutch angles! And that song about dinosaurs!
  • Paul Walker’s unfortunate midriff shirt
  • These guys fight like they’re in WWE — it may be the best high school fight scene ever, if only for the background performers
  • Lots of crotch grabbing during this fight. Whole lotta crotch grabbing.
  • Gangs of teens have no problem with barging into houses
  • Running away from lions and jumping into a tree with a jaguar is not a good survival tactic
  • Tammy’s always-amazing outfits in this movie
  • This hospital will let anyone into an ICU, apparently
  • “I did all I could” said the doctor who pounded his chest five times only
  • For a guy who got mauled by a lion, he has no blood on him whatsoever
  • Helga has a magic punch
  • This is a very unhygienic surgery
  • It’s Pedro from Napoleon Dynamite!
  • Apparently you can run for a while without your head
  • The T Rex’s hands and feet closeups are so, so bad
  • There’s no way the T Rex’s little arms could stretch as far as this movie wants you to believe
  • Nobody seems to notice a giant dinosaur spying on their party
  • The T. Rex tripping people
  • You can roll up flattened bodies
  • Dino charades!
  • Nobody wears anything appropriate to this funeral
  • Apparently the human body can decay a whole lot in 24 hours
  • There’s a whole chase scene with a T Rex in the back of a truck to make up for its lack of movement

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