Movies In My Collection #165: In Defense Of… Jingle All The Way

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Time once again for another edition of In Defense Of…

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Hey, you know what yesterday was? The 22nd of November, and you know what was released 20 years ago yesterday…Jingle All The Way with Arnold Schwarzenegger:

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Ah yes, you all remember this movie, don’t act like you don’t because you know good and goddamn well that you do.

Jingle All the Way is a 1996 American Christmas family comedy film directed by Brian Levant and starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sinbad, with Phil Hartman, Rita Wilson, Jake Lloyd, James Belushi and Robert Conrad. The plot focuses on two rival fathers, workaholic Howard Langston (Schwarzenegger) and stressed out postal worker Myron Larabee (Sinbad), both desperately trying to get a Turbo-Man action figure for their respective sons on a last minute shopping spree on Christmas Eve.

Inspired by real-life Christmas toy sell-outs for products such as the Cabbage Patch Kids and Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, the film was written by Randy Kornfield. Producer Chris Columbus rewrote the script, adding in elements of satire about the commercialization of Christmas, and the project was picked up by 20th Century Fox. Delays on Fox’s reboot of Planet of the Apes allowed Schwarzenegger to come on board the film, while Columbus opted to cast Sinbad ahead of Joe Pesci as Myron. Jingle All the Way was set and filmed in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul at a variety of locations, including the Mall of America. After five weeks filming, production moved to California where scenes such as the end parade were shot. The film’s swift production meant merchandising was limited to a replica of the Turbo-Man action figure used in the film.

Although some critics felt the film was good family entertainment, it was met with a broadly negative response. Much criticism was attached to the film’s script, its focus on the commercialism of Christmas, Levant’s direction and Schwarzenegger’s performance. Nevertheless, it proved a success at the box office, generating $129 million worldwide. In 2001, Fox was ordered to pay $19 million to Murray Hill Publishing for stealing the idea for the film; the verdict was overturned three years later.

Jingle All the Way is also Sinbad and Hartman’s second collaboration after Houseguest (1995).

I know what you thinking, Arnold Schwarzenegger, one of the biggest action stars of all time, in a silly family Christmas movie??? I mean, it’s not like he hasn’t done comedy before, Twins, Kindergarten Cop, Junior, so why does this surprise a lot of people that he did a Christmas movie for children? Well…it’s just that Arnold Schwarzenegger taking on a role that would be more suitable for somebody like Jim Carrey or Adam Sandler or Kevin James or any popular comedic actor we have out there but Arnold Schwarzenegger just seems odd of a choice for a film like this. But then again, it could’ve been a lot worse, he could’ve done Tooth Fairy that later went to Dwayne Johnson, which was written for Schwarzenegger in the 90s, or that other Christmas movie that Schwarzenegger associated himself with. I’ll delve more into that in December but extra points to anybody in the comments who can tell me the other Schwarzenegger Christmas film out there.

But anyway, let’s talk about Jingle All The Way and honestly, it’s what it is. The movie is perfectly aware at how silly and stupid it is and it just goes all out with how insane they can get, it’s got the cheesy Schwarzenegger lines, it’s got the over the top comedy, it’s got that sense of we don’t give a fuck what we’re doing, we just want to have fun mentality to it and for that, I admire the movie for how stupid it is. It never takes itself seriously whatsoever.

Plus there are things to actually admire about the movie, Schwarzenegger and Sinbad surprisingly work off each other really well, Phil Hartman’s that great asshole character we’ve come to know and love him for, some of the jokes actually do work really well here and the concept of a comedy about getting a Christmas gift at the last minute is a funny concept and could be done decently well in a movie and this film definitely does do that.

But yeah, some of the other acting is pretty bad, Rita Wilson is kind of wasted here, Jake Lloyd shows no charisma here whatsoever as Schwarzenegger’s son and many of the jokes fall apart pretty badly.

Then again, here’s the difference between Jingle All The Way and recent Christmas films such as Surviving Christmas, Christmas With The Kranks, Deck The Halls, A Christmas Story 2 and even the horrendous Jingle All The Way 2 with Larry The Cable Guy, this movie actually had effort put into it, the effort is definitely here, the people who made this movie knew that what they were making was stupid but they said, “hey, let’s go with it and just have fun with it.” And like with Space Jam, released in the same year, there’s definitely that sense of this cast having fun with the material given to them here, regardless of how dumb it is.

By the way, the less I say about Jingle All The Way 2 the better, fuck that pile of dreck.

With Jingle All The Way, it’s Arnold Schwarzenegger, the biggest star in the world at the time, in a Christmas movie. Need I say more? Stupid and nonsensical but fun to watch for how bad it is nonetheless, it’s the perfect definition of a nostalgic guilty pleasure.

MOVIES MENTIONED IN THIS POST

Jingle All The Way

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