Monday, 10 December 2012

Jingle All The Way

Title: Jingle All The Way
Director: Brian Levant
Released: 1996
Staring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sinbad, Phil Hartman, Rita Wilson, Robert Conrad, Jake Lloyd, James Belushi

Plot: Howard (Schwarzenegger) is a workaholic mattress salesman who constantly disappoints his son Jamie (Lloyd), but after missing his karate graduation he sets out to make things up to him by getting him an action figure of his favourite TV superhero “Turbo Man”. Unfortunately it is also the must have toy that everyone is keen to get their hands on as he now finds himself in a mad dash across town to find one, while finding himself especially in competition with mail man Myron (Sinbad) who is also out to find himself a Turbo man doll.

Review: Well tis the season once again be merry or for those of us who work in retail, the season to try and survive as if anything is guaranteed to bring out the crazies it is Christmas and it is only fitting that someone would finally get around to making a film about the sheer consumerism of Christmas yet alone the rush to hunt down that must have toy and the random act of violence amongst shoppers which usually accompany this pursuit.

FMarking the start of Arnie’s bronze period of film making, which saw a sharp decline in the quality of films he was making, with the majority of these films being of such poor quality they would no doubt have going DTV had it not been for his still relatively strong star power still being able to bring in the box office dollars. Looking back at this film it now serves almost as a warning of what was to come before his retirement from acting to pursue his new career as the govenator and while it is certainly in no way as bad as the likes of “Batman and Robin” or “End of Days”, it is still a film best viewed as a piece of mindless holiday cheese rather than trying to compare it to any of the films from his golden period, especially when it features Arnie trying to tackle another comedic performance, especially when he is not exactly renown for his comedy timing.

Right from the start the film essentially sets its tone, especially as we get to see Arnie attempting to pull off with some limited degree of success a crane kick with his sons karate belt wrapped around his head. Still considering the spoilt little shit he has for a son played here by future Anakin Skywalker Jake Llyod, who lets not forget is renowned for pulling a strop and quit acting over being teased for his role in Star Wars, yet bizarrely not for this film?? Still with a moody kid like this you kind of realise why Howard spends so much time at the office. Still seeing how running out on your family is hardly the most festive of viewing we instead get this madcap rush around the city, as Howard continually gets foiled in his attempts to get hold of the doll, while being shadowed by the madcap mail man Myron, because it is never enough to have just once blundering attempt at comedic, especially when you can have two! However despite the questionable comedic talents of Arnie and Sinbad, the first hour of this movie is still pretty entertaining, especially as they go from one ludicrous situation to the next, ranging from an out of control lottery to a showdown with an army of shady Santa’s in their less than kosher workshop. Sadly this is essentially thrown away in the final half hour, as plausibility is completely thrown out of the window in order for Arnie to engage in various super powered mishaps when he is mistaken for the guy playing Turbo man in the wintertainment parade, while the film turns into stilton.

I guess for myself one of the big surprises here is the distinct lack of a big evil, for there is no corrupt toy executive or money grabbing TV executive to foil, but instead the closest we get is Howard’s superdad and generally smug next door neighbour Ted (Hartman) who essentially represents his mirror opposite, let alone committing the ultimate evil of daring to put the star on Howard’s tree!! As you can tell he’s a real twisted SOB and did I mention he also baked festive cookies!! Okay he does also creepily attempt to seduce Howard’s wife Liz (Wilson) aswell, but perhaps because of this lack of villainy on offer here, that it could explain why the character of Myron is so frenzied let alone the fact he hinders Howards attempts to get hold of a turbo man doll almost as much as he unwittingly assists him, with the idea of Myron as a badguy only further enforced by the ludicrous finale were he dresses up as Turbo Man’s arch enemy dementor. Perhaps if Joe Pesci the original casting choice for the role has taken on the part it would perhaps have been more recognisable as to which side he stands on. Infact some of the most villainous behaviour in the film is at the hands of Howard who not only attempts to steal the Turbo man ted has bought for his son, but also almost burns down his house and punches out his reindeer and this of course is the same guy we are supposed to be rooting for.

Had the film not randomly switched modes into full on slapstick with its last half hour, perhaps it would be a film remembered more fondly but as it stands this last half hour is just so over the top, it generally detracts from the more enjoyable first hour. Meanwhile it unwittingly manages to ride the message of the materialism of Christmas rather than a more traditionally wholesome message, which it kind of attempts with the ending, only for it to essentially make you wonder why Howard bothered in the first place. Still in many ways the film is now kind of twee throwback to the mad season rampages which seem to be happen less these days, especially in these times were todays most wanted gift is nothing but a mouse click away. If anything though this film proves that thanks to Arnie’s raw charm even the most flawed plotting and questionable direction choices can still make for enjoyable yet still highly disposable fun even if the message given by the film is more than a little questionable.


  1. I kind of like this favorite scene is the one with all the santa elves kicking arnolds ass...not a bad holiday flick in my opinion, but I agree with you, this one marked a decline in Arnold's career. It was when I saw End of Days and The 6th Day that Arnolds "fall" became really evident to me. And then Collateral Damage assured it. Here's looking forward to the new batch of films he's got lined up.

  2. "Collateral Damage" was painful in how far he had fallen even after the atrocity of "End Of Days". Still I'm feeling positive about his Resurrection period he has now just begun, especially after seeing the latest trailer for "The Last Stand" as he is going for a look of more power than bulk, while playing the aging action hero much like Clint Eastwood does in films like "Unforgiven" and "Grand Torino" and in many ways how Stallone has adapted his own characters like Rocky and Rambo. In many ways I think that his Expendables appearances really showed him warming up and figuring out how to work this latest phase.


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