- Directed by Brian Levant
- November 16, 1996 (Mall of America) / November 22, 1996 (US)
Two rival fathers, in an effort to prove themselves to their kids, both desperately try to purchase THE hot Christmas toy on a last-minute shopping spree on Christmas Eve.
I can certainly see the appeal of Jingle All the Way. Most parents have at one point or another jumped through an insane amount of hoops and gone through a ridiculous level of effort to find the perfect gift for their child. The plot of this movie takes that idea to comical extremes.
Schwarzenegger plays stereotypical father Howard Langston (how do you get a name like “Langston” with an accent like Schwarzenegger’s?) who is more focused on work than his family. In his efforts to provide for his family he has pushed them to the background. Not because he’s uncaring but because he started to focus on the wrong things.
Schwarzenegger’s forte is most definitely action films of an 80s type. I’m not saying he’s without talent. Have you seen Maggie? He kills it in that, and that is as far from an action film as he has ever gotten. But I am getting off track. He does well enough with comedic work and I guess this was his effort to make a Christmas classic. It is cheesy and over the top and because of his presence it all comes together.
Howard’s main nemesis is played by Sinbad as postal worker Myron Larabee who views getting that year’s hot toy, a Turbo-Man doll, as his way too somehow fix his life. He has more than a few screws loose. Sinbad was great here, as he was in other lighter comedy, but for some reason he never worked steady in film to the best of my knowledge much beyond the 2010s. Or am I wrong there?
Phil Hartman is wonderful as divorced father Ted. The man was another great comedic actor. He could turn dry with a twinge of slimy into comedy gold. To the adults watching this it is clear that everything Ted is to get with lonely and forgotten wives in the neighborhood. The kids will not pick up on it but you certainly will and it’s funny. Especially the scene where his son remarks that his dad was not as fun or into Christmas before his parents divorced.
Anyone familiar with the Power Rangers craze will see shades of that in this film along with any number of Christmas toy crazes. Getting one of those Power Rangers toys was insane when they first came out. I happened to work at a toy store at the time and was able to secure a Green Ranger for my nephew. I violated several company policies to keep that thing for him.
In Jingle All the Way we have an illegal toy factory filled with Santa’s. We have threats of bombs. And we have a superhero battle during a parade. The weirdness just keeps building in this story all the way to the end.
The story itself is nothing too unique. There are plenty of movies out there with parents trying to achieve some redemption in the relationship with her child on Christmas by getting that hot toy. What makes this movie special is just the pure silliness. It starts off relatively normal and I think it crosses the line into surreal once they hit the illegal toy factory.
Jingle All the Way came out a out of time when Schwarzenegger was trying to transition. The 80s action films were gone. Those types of stars were no longer fashionable which I find unfortunate and this is one of several attempts he did to change his image. It didn’t do anything in that regards but that doesn’t mean it’s not enjoyable.
Jingle All the Way is a well-directed movie that’s enjoyable enough for the kids as well as the adults. There are some laughs and some silliness and you won’t feel as if you wasted 90 minutes of your life watching this. If you want a movie you can enjoy with your kids or by yourself then this is it. I say watch it!