Archive Review: Jingle All The Way (1996)

This was a film I loved a lot as a child, and I was so scared I would love it as much as an adult.  It’s a bit dated, but I still had a blast.

Certificate: PG

Director: Brian Levant

Screenwriter: Randy Kornfield

Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sinbad, Phil Hartman

Genre: Adventure, Comedy

Runtime: 99 Minutes

Rating: 3.5

Reviewed by: Pearl

Meet Howard Langston, a salesman for a mattress company is constantly busy at his job, and he also constantly disappoints his son, Jamie. After he misses his son’s karate exposition, he tries hard to come up with a way to make it up to him. Jamie says he all he wants for Christmas is an action figure of television hero Turbo Man. Unfortunately for Howard, it is Christmas Eve, and every store is sold out of Turbo Man figures; now Howard must travel all over town and compete with everybody else including a mail man named Myron to find a Turbo Man action figure, and to make it to the Wintertainment Parade, to make his son’s Christmas Wishes come true. – From IMDB

When I was a kid, and films needed to do a lot less to entertain me, and Arnie’s weird accent didn’t seem weird and out of place, this was one of my favourite Christmas films.  I forgot about it for such a long time, until this year when I saw it in HMV as part of a Christ movie Promo they were offering, (I also bought Scrooged and The Polar Express as part of this promo, reviews for those will be up before Christmas.)  My thirty year old self was equal parts excited and terrified to revisit this.  What if it was just awful, and not in the fun way.  Well, it is awful, but no more so than a lot of kids Christmas movies, and I am glad I am now able to add this to my annual Christmas Watchlist.

This film mostly focuses on Schwarzenegger’s character Howard as he runs around the city, fighting off other rowdy Christmas shoppers on his hunt for Christmas’ most sought after toy.  Basically it is showing every parents worst nightmare, and exactly how Christmas really is, if a little over dramatized.  And that really is my main criticism of this film.  Everything is just a little too over the top.  Howard is a little too incompetent to be realistic, their neighbour Ted is a little too nice and perfect, he is almost Ned Flanders like.  The superhero/supervillain showdown at the end with Myron the crazy postman is something that would never, ever happen in a million years, but we let it all happen because it’s comedy, and because it’s Christmas, and those are the only two excuses for such weird and unreasonable behaviour.

Arnie still makes no effort to sound even a little bit less like himself, a trait I find both infinitely irritating, and kind of endearing.  Even when they put the computer altered voice on when he is in the Turbo Man suit, it still just sounds like him, but a little distorted.  How that kid didn’t recognise his dad’s very obviously Austrian Accent is completely beyond me.

A great Christmas film that I will come back too every year.

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