Howard is a loving husband and father whose workaholic ways get in the way. When he once again disappoints his son, he promises to make it up to him by getting him the new Turboman doll for Xmas. Little does he know it’s the hottest toy in town. Can he take down the competition and get Turboman before it’s too late? Find out in… Jingle All the Way.
How?! Howard is just buy sell buy sell wall street stuff all day making the big bucks at his mattress store. Unfortunately the mattresses can’t sell itself and he misses his son’s big karate show right before Christmas. Oh no! You know what that means. He’s gotta buy his son the biggest, hottest toy in town, Turboman, in order to make sure he loves him. Hooray! That toy is hot, and when I say hot I mean people are laughing in Howard’s face when he and a crazy mailman are both attempting to find one on Xmas Eve. Much like Odysseus, Howard begins a long and winding quest that takes him to toy stores around town, to a Santa run counterfeit toy outfit, and finally to a radio station that claims to be giving away the coveted prize. The whole while he is stoking the rivalry with the mailman who eventually snaps and commits a string of felonies including (but not limited to) multiple bomb threats. After striking out at the radio station, Howard returns home to find his smarmy neighbor hitting on his wife and playing dad of the year. Enraged, Howard breaks into his neighbor’s house and steals the Turboman he got for his son. He attempts to return it after realizing what he’s doing is wrong, only to release a wild reindeer (don’t ask) which destroys his neighbor’s house and alerts his family to his misdeed. They go off to the big parade without him and Howard is feeling pretty blue… but this man is the mattress king of Minneapolis and you can’t keep him down for long. So he heads into the city only to inadvertently get dragged into the parade to portray (you guessed it) Turboman. This giant, Austrian man beast is apparently unrecognizable to friends and family in his Turboman costume and he is able to pull his son out of the crowd and give him an extra special Turboman. But uh oh! The mailman is back, Jack and he chases Howard’s son up to the top of a building. Howard uses his Turboman skillz to swoop in and saves his son, after which he reveals himself and his son is like “who needs a doll when I got the real Turboman at home.” It’s an Xmas miracle. THE END.
Why?! Just to jingle jangle, right? Nope, it’s really for love. Awwwww. Howard knows his son is a materialistic monster and that he’s a terrible father. He knows that only the spirit of Christmas can save their familial love… and by spirit of Christmas I of course mean the latest, hottest toy. The only other clear motivation is Phil Hartman’s smarmy neighbor character who clearly wants to get it on with Howard’s wife and would go to any lengths to do so.
Who?! One positive in the Santa mob scene was the brief appearance of the wrestler The Big Show and an uncredited appearance by Verne Troyer. Obviously Arnold fits into the athlete turned actor category and Sinbad is a major actor credited by a mononym. But probably the best credit in the film is Harvey Korman credited as the President of the US. How? Because they show a part of an episode of a Turboman show and there he is. I love it.
What?! Great MacGuffin in the Turboman doll. Both Arnold and Sinbad pull out all the stops to obtain this doll that certainly holds a mysterious power over the love from their children. There was also some fun product placement here with the final Christmas parade and the many Minnesota specific stores and diners and the like. But really the biggest shoutout goes to the Booster action figure that is on sale for a cool grand. They may have hated that giant pink tiger sidekick in the film, but I sure did like him.
Where?! This is a major Minnesota film and perhaps the greatest Minnesota BMT film of all time. They really show off the state with the Mall of America, Mickey’s Diner, Nicollet Island, etc. It would be really hard to beat unless they decided to make some series of films about a youth hockey team that wins big and loves the Minnesota North Stars… but that would be crazy. While a great setting I actually don’t think this is an A… just an A-. Could have been in Chicago? Why couldn’t it have been.
When?! This could be an A+ film and a not so secret Holiday Film, but really are we sure that Jingle All the Way is enough to be certain that it’s set on Christmas?… JK, it is enough and it is an A+, but it is an interesting side note to mention how the film is a Christmas film that is actually never set on Christmas. It ends during the Christmas Eve parade and we get a very brief scene at the end that seems to be still late on The Eve (as the kids call it). Christmas never actually makes an appearance.
The film is bonkers crazy in terms of what it thinks is hilarious for people to watch as they snuggle under a blanket on Christmas Eve with their eggnog (or whatever nog they prefer). Sinbad threatening to blow up a radio station in pursuit of a stupid toy? Hah! That’s not horrifying in the least. There were some jokes I liked (like the intense disdain everyone had for Turboman’s pink tiger sidekick Booster) and then others that probably worked better on paper (the santa mob) and then Sinbad acting like a psycho for the rest of it. Was it better than I thought it would be? No… I think it was just as bad as I expected it to be. The exact level of badness that Jingle All the Way conjured in my mind. Patrick?
‘Ello everyone! Jingle Jangle Jingling with them Janglin’s … let’s go!
P’s View of the Preview – Have I seen Jingle All the Way, you get right on outta here! Of course I have. I was what? Ten when it came out, I wouldn’t be terribly surprised if I was told that I saw it in theaters. It certainly isn’t a good movie though, even ten-year-old me must have known this through the multiple viewings on cable. The preview reminded me that Jingle All the Way was filmed in Minneapolis / Saint Paul, which is where I lived at one point, so that’s a fun new viewpoint to bring to this Christmas viewing. What were my expectations? It was obviously still going to be terrible. But seeing classic Arnold in a comedic role was going to be a blast from the past, and as mentioned, I want as much Minnesota stuff in my face as possible.
The Good – Yes, this film is materialistic, but there is a nugget of wholesome family-is-more-important-to-money-and-toys message laced throughout the entire film which maybe saves it a bit. Arnold is just so goddamned charming, it is no wonder his comedic efforts fared far better than Sylvester Stallone’s from the same era. And I’m sure that children would enjoy the grand finale of the film, and some of the more absurd bits as well (like the kung fu santas and whatnot). If only Arnold had an amusing male secretary he made fun of (but ultimately became indebted to) throughout the film. Fifteen years later and that character would have been played by like … Clark Duke or something and definitely would have been in the film. Best Bit: Arnold.
The Bad – For the most part the film is pretty down to Earth … and then out of nowhere Sinbad will blow up a police officer with a bomb like a cartoon, and Arnold will crash headfirst into a building only to be stunned like Wile E. Coyote. Those moments smash you out of the film so hard it is pretty unforgivable. And then the B-story is all about how Phil Hartman wants to steal Arnold’s wife!! The film is perplexing in that sense, and probably reflects the understanding that their lead actor doesn’t exactly have classical comedy chops. Fatal Flaw: Materialistic and cartoony.
The BMT – We finally knocked off one of the Calendar’s special Christmas films which is nice. This is also one of the Razzie nominees of that year. I should go through and do another analysis of Razzie films. As bad as that award is, completing the worst picture nominees (for example) would be a nice achievement as far as challenges go. Did it meet my expectations? If by “meet” you mean I was filled with holiday cheer, then yes. The film isn’t good, but it was fun to watch it with Jamie and reflect on just how wild some of the choices being made in 1996 were. Also huuuuge Minnesota film, just a Where’s Where of Minnesota wonder.
Roast-radamus – There is a sneaky Planchet (Who?) here in the form of Booster, Turboman’s sidekick which everyone hates and dunks on throughout the film for no reason. I’m going to give it a solid Product Placement (What?) for Grain Belt, the local corn-flavored beer from New Ulm, Minnesota which Arnold is sadly day-drinking at the end of the second act of the film. An amazing Setting as a Character (Where?) for the Twin Cities in general. A Not-So-Secret Holiday Film (When?) for it being an incredible Christmas film. A huuuuuge MacGuffin (Why?) in the TurboMan Toy. And a good Worst Twist (How?) for little Anakin Skywalker revealing that all he wants for Christmas is … his dad. Awwwwwwww. That’s a clean sweep boys! I like this in the BMT category.
StreetCreditReport.com – Jingle All the Way has cred up the wazoo. First some stats. Top 10% in BMeTric and Notability for 1996, and around top 15% for Rotten Tomatoes meter. I think being in the top 25% for any of those is qualifying and it has all three. Second, it has a straight-to-video sequel made nearly 20 years later in 1994. Nothing says cred like trying to cash in on that sweet IP with nostalgic twenty-somethings. Third, it had a Razzie nomination for the director, always nice to see. This is also, weirdly, the number six funniest Christmas movie according to IMDb. And, maybe most notably, it is mentioned on Jeopardy! as a subject of a $1,200 clue in the category “One-Named Personalities” 13 years after it was made in 2009 … that’s real deal cred.
You Just Got Schooled – You might me thinking, of course, Jingle All the Way 2. Wrong! I couldn’t bring myself to do it. Instead I just went with another classic Christmas film I had never really seen all the way through National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. I really rather enjoyed this film, it is very similar to the original Vacation film in tone and structure. There are definitely some cartoony bits (like Chevy Chase flying around on a magic super-lubricated sled), and it is maybe one of the more anxiety-inducing films I’ve ever seen, but once it builds to the inevitable crescendo of Clark Griswald having a breakdown, it ends on a particularly high note in teaching his eeeeeevil greedy corporate boss a lesson about Christmas cheer. B+, maybe a bit too much of a carbon copy of the original as far as plot points, but still funny.