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Monday, 1 August 2016

Weekend TV Movie Review: Jingle All The Way - Film4 (1996) #Schwarzenegger

Jingle All The Way
Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sinbad, Phil Hartman, Jake Lloyd, Rita Wilson, James Belushi
Estimated Worldwide Gross: $129,832,389

Plot: Workaholic Howard Langston (Arnold Schwarzenegger) wants to make things up with son, Jamie (Jake Lloyd) & wife Liz (Rita Wilson). He promises to get Jamie the hottest toy of the season: Turbo-Man - even though it is Christmas Eve & the toy is practically sold out. As Langston hunts down the elusive gift, he runs into mailman, Myron (Sinbad), another father on the same quest. With the clock winding down, Langston's moral code is tested as he starts to learn the real meaning of Christmas

'A Ho-Ho-Ho Lot Of Fun In This Festive Arnie Comedy Caper'

It is very, very strange and crazy when TV stations and channels air Christmas themed movies during the middle of summer. Yet when this arrived on the TV listings I thought I'd give it a proper shot. When this movie first came out in the mid- 1990s, I as a teenager, instantly wrote it off as a silly farce and not the type of film Arnie should get involved in. After I saw the trailer, I thought this was way too corny for me to ever take any interest in. But that was down to ignorance, because I pretty much felt this way towards many farce comedy movies that came out in the 1990s, that I now love watching and put a smile on my face. 

Things change, attitudes change as people get older and so with a more open frame of mind, I'd watch this again to see how it fares from an adult perspective.

Courtesy of 3 producers, one of them being Chris Columbus who directed 1993's Mrs Doubtfire, Jingle All The Way is a broad comedy choc-filled with hammy, & at times over- the- top humour, acting and crazy and chaotic situations and plotlines. Arnie also gets to be a little embarrassing, and to an extent, much like with Kindergarten Cop, it works. He is one of the very few action movie stars, who is so versatile he can pull off the comedy thing extremely well & successfully too, without coming across as being too corny. & though this is first and foremost a comedy, there are a couple of serious moments in this movie that often makes you stop, think and wonder.  

Arnold Schwarzenegger plays father Howard Langston, who doesn't live up to his son's promises and doesn't spend enough quality time with his family - this rings a bell to 1997's Liar Liar. When Jamie wants the hottest toy of the holiday season, a Turbo Man action figure, Howard goes out of his way to make it up to Jamie in order to get hold of that action figure. But things get even more heated, because the fellow father, mailman Myron (Sinbad of A Different World) also wants to get a Turbo Man figure for his son too. Soon, each of them competes against each other to see who will get that elusive toy, first.  

As well as Byron, Howard also has to keep tabs on the fellow dad turned creep, Tim (the late Phil Hartman), who only has eyes for his wife, Liz, played surprisingly well by Rita Wilson. I didn't really care much for Jake, Howard's son. He didn't make that much of an impression on me. 

There is a Simpsons connection, as both Phil Hartman and Yeardley Smith (Lisa Simpson) appear in this movie. James Belushi, who starred alongside Arnie in Red Heat in 1988 is in this as well, but playing the antagonist this time round. 

Jingle All The Way almost plays out like a version of Home Alone with Howard and Myron in place of Macaulay Culkin, Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern outwitting each other. The unlikely and unconventional pairing of Schwarzenegger and Sinbad, whilst on paper, it looks rather odd, actually works quite well. The film is a fancy stab at the commercialism of Christmas which underlies beneath all the farce and silly antics that happen in the film. Touted as a family film, deep down there are underlying issues surrounding trust, broken promises, materialism and greed.


Sinbad as Arnie's arch-rival was pretty good and it was good to see his comedic skills being utilised here. The battle between Turtle Man- I mean Turbo Man and Dementor in the shape of Myron was a good way to conclude the film, yet silly but lively. 

I was actually surprised at how much I enjoyed watching Jingle All The Way: it is funny, riotous on occasions, entertaining & seeing Arnie smack one of the Santas with a candy cane was 'jolly' good fun (talk about 'deck' the halls...). There wasn't really one dull moment, it managed to maintain my interest throughout. 

Jingle All The Way is arguably far more action-packed than Kindergarten Cop as a standalone family comedy movie, but also the laughs and comedy was a lot more consistent and better. Though I'd previously said before Kindergarten Cop was Arnie's best comedy effort, I take that back and say that I have now changed my mind and as I much prefer this film to the Ivan Reitman movie. Like Mrs Doubtfire, Home Alone and Stepmom, Chris Columbus, - via director Brian Levant - does go overboard with the schmaltz and sentimentality at times, but here in a film such as this, it works because of the holiday theme & tradition where values and morals about greed and materialism are highlighted, if not as explicitly stated to hit you over the head. In essence, it makes a lot more sense here.  

By keeping an open mind and just approach it as a light-hearted comedy, this is a fun movie to watch. 

Final Verdict: 

With some action-packed moments and humourous moments, Jingle All The Way is a (sleigh) ride worth taking a spin. It may not be the best Christmas movie by any means, but as a Christmas- themed family comedy movie, it is certainly underrated and nowhere as horrendous as originally stated. 

As Christmas comedies go, this is up there as my favourite of all-time. 


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