Jingle All the Way (1996)
Jingle All the Way is not a great film, nor a good one. It’s actually stupid as heck. Yet, I can’t help but not watch it because it’s so ingrained in my memory from childhood that I have. Plus, the fact it has freakin’ Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Terminator himself, as the lead character only makes watching a must.
Howard Langston (Schwarzenegger) is a busy business man who is constantly more focused on work than his own family. This type of story was not uncommon in the 90’s. His wife Liz (Rita Wilson) is constantly wondering when Howard will attend Jamie’s (Jake Lloyd) karate graduation, all while nosey neighbor Ted Maltin (Phil Hartman) tries to prove he is a better man and father than Howard. After a long day of work and missing the graduation, Howard plans to win back Jamie’s admiration with a Turbo-Man action figure. One problem though: It’s already Christmas Eve and the you is sold out everywhere. Howard decides to venture across the Twin Cities in search of Turbo-Man while avoiding kung fu Santas, a wild reindeer, Ted’s annoyance and the most terrifying thing of all… Sinbad’s humor.
Jingle All the Way is a dumb movie with dumb humor and tons of just stupid moments. Yet, just like some bad movies, it’s so bad, it’s good. Schwarzenegger does his damnedest and finest to get through the over-the-top ridiculous nature and it is pretty hilarious to see such a strong man get his ass handed to him every step of the way. Sinbad is just okay with trying to add his brand of humor, but that manages to fall flat on his face. Everyone else in this movie, for lack of a better word, is kind of an asshole. Hartman is a frickin’ jerk, the wife is a bit naggy, the son is whiny as hell and everyone Howard comes across gives him nothing but shit on a stick. It comes off as unfunny and just mean spirited with the rest of the holiday. Hell, even The Big Show as Santa is a prick. Then again, that man was the New Year’s Baby.
The one promising film is the premise. It tackles the concept of commercialization and consumerism around Christmas time showing the ludicrous nature of it all. It is always there to help guide the movie along to show that isn’t important around Christmas time. Unfortnately, the film falters in that aspect. Another thing I can give this film credit for is the climax. The ending of the film with a giant action scene in a parade makes sitting through all this random stuff worth it. Arnold in a Turbo-Man suit fighting Sinbad makes this movie still worth going through forced comedy and tedious crap. I still watch it and know it’s awful, but I get joy out of it.
Jingle All the Way is so bad, it’s good with a clear message that is lost underneath silly humor, odd performances and needless moments.
NExt time, we enter the 21st century with a familiar Christmas icon.