Welcome back to 1 out of 5 – Would Recommend, where no one’s childhood is spared – not even mine. As part of our month long Christmas celebration, we’re tackling the 1996 ode to crass commercialism known as Jingle All The Way.
What’s The Plot?
Howard Langston (Arnold Schwarzenegger, who will just be called “Arnold” from here on in because he’s not exactly Daniel Day Lewis) is a neglectful workaholic dad who forgot to get his son the hot toy of the season. To avert ruining his marriage, the kid’s life, and Christmas in general, he…once again neglects his family to hunt down the toy on Christmas Eve. But it’s all OK at the end, because he gained super powers and beat up Sinbad to prove that he loved his wife and son.
Who Made This Beautiful Garbage?
20th Century Fox. Other than the Governator, the movie’s cast includes the aforementioned Sinbad, the late and lamented Phil Hartman, Jim Belushi (who fails to live up to the comedy legacies of TWO dead guys in this movie), and Jake Lloyd, prior to The Phantom Menace ruining his life. It’s an all-star cast, using the standards of Dancing With The Stars.
Five Reasons to See It
- Arnold beats up a warehouse full of crooked Mall Santas. ‘Nuff said.
- Tough as may be to believe, Sinbad’s actually pretty damn funny in this. He plays a disgruntled divorcee postal employee who is very much in the same boat as Arnold’s character, desperate for a toy that can “fix” the relationship with his kid. Sinbad ramps up the character’s mania as the movie drifts further and further from reality, and it works.
- Phil Hartman’s character, a neighborhood dad who became a super attentive parent when his wife left, is transparently trying bang Arnold’s wife throughout the movie.It’s one of the relatively few movies Hartman made before his tragic death, and he does a good job even if the movie sucks.
- In the film’s climax, Arnold accidentally infiltrates a holiday parade and put into a fully functional Turbo Man costume – he zips around on a jet pack, throws an incredibly accurate metal boomerang around, and fires off a disc launcher. I…I think this film grossly overestimates the budget of the Minneapolis Christmas Parade.
- “Put that cookie down. NOW!” – One of Arnold’s most quotable (and remixable) lines ever.
Look, Jingle All The Way is really just an average not-very-good family movie. The plot’s an excuse for slapstick, it’s an ode to the crass commercialism that better movies (Miracle on 34th Street comes to mind) decries, and the real life Turbo Man dolls…actually go for quite a bit on eBay, unlike most real “hot Christmas toys”. But I saw in theaters when I was six and therefore it holds a special place in my heart. Just avoid last year’s “sequel”, starring Larry The Cable Guy.
NEXT WEEK: We see the “origin” of everyone’s favorite Christmas character, The Ice Cream Bunny, in 1972’s Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny!