Jingle All the Way (1996)

jingle all the way poster 1996 movie
4.0 Overall Score
Story: 4/10
Acting: 5/10
Visuals: 4/10

Potential in script

Should have been adult and not kid friendly

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Jingle All the Way

Studio:  1492 Pictures/20th Century Fox

Genre(s):  Comedy/Family/Seasonal

Release Date(s):  November 16, 1996 (Premiere)/November 22, 1996 (US)

MPAA Rating:  PG

jingle all the way arnold schwarzenegger sinbad

Let’s just do this…

Feeling he’s failing as a father, Howard Langston (Arnold Schwarzenegger) makes a promise to his son Jamie (Jake Lloyd) that he will get him the Turbo-Man action figure for Christmas. Howard doesn’t know as he sets out on Christmas Eve that the Turbo-Man figure is the hottest toy on the market. Now a battle has begun between Howard and a mailman named Myron Larabee (Sinbad) to find the elusive toy so they can both be heroes to their sons. Meanwhile back at home, Harold’s neighbor Ted Maltin (Phil Hartman) is putting the moves on Harold’s wife Liz (Rita Wilson), and it could threaten his marriage.

Directed by Brian Levant, Jingle All the Way is a Christmas family comedy.  The film was critically panned, but it still did well at the box office.  It also faced a lawsuit (later dismissed) that the idea had been stolen from a script called Could This Be Christmas?  The film was nominated for a Razzie for Worst Director.

Jingle All the Way goes down as the I watched on a flight back from spending months abroad.  I had no interest in the film, and the film wasn’t good, but it passed the time while easing me back in to “America”.  Watching the film now, it still is bad, it still is mundane, but you can argue that it also is still America.

jingle all the way jim belushi santa arnold schwarzenegger

Battle of the Santas!

Whenever some action star makes a comedy movie, the red flags automatically go up. Schwarzenegger really can’t do funny.  He has had success with movies like Twins, Kindergarten Cop, and Junior, but it always feels more due to the fact that he is awkward in the roles and less about his delivery. He delivers each line like he’s still in one of the action movies and just seems very wooden. When the comedy becomes physical, it doesn’t do much better. He tries really hard, but Sinbad…who is a comedian…also falls flat.  The movie has lots of supporting cast from Jake Lloyd (aka Anakin Skywalker) to Phil Hartman, Martin Mull, Jim Belushi, Laraine Newman, Harvey Corman, Richard Moll, Rita Wilson, and Robert Conrad.

The problem is that the script is really bad, which is too bad because it actually had potential. I could imagine this as a really dark (probably R-Rated) comedy and it would work. A lot of critics attacked the sheer commercialism of the movie, but at least the movie was honest about what Americans often value about the holidays. I just wish it had gone farther. Sinbad makes the efforts to get the toy actually dangerous near the end (and also talks about bombing places), but if the whole movie had more of a hint of danger, it would have worked. It could have been a kind of Rushmore with the holidays.

jingle all the way turbo man arnold schwarzenegger jake lloyd

Son…you have a world full of disappointment coming

The movie has that cheesy comedy look that it not only displays, but it also fully encompasses.  It feels like an ’80s comedy, but unfortunately for Jingle All the Way, it was made in the later half of the ’90s.  It doesn’t have any great action scenes or any really memorable tender heart-felt scenes.  It just feels like you are being fed holiday paste.

Jingle All the Way with a stronger script and a more appropriate cast could have worked. As it stands now, it is a mess. There are moments that are almost laughable (that are suppose to be), like Schwarzenegger breaking into his neighbor’s house to steal presents, that were kind of funny…but then the characters have remorse and “do the right thing”. If only they had no remorse and just went all out evil for the holidays.  Cold-hearted and cruel parents bent on making the perfect Christmas and no drunk reindeer…that is a Christmas movie I’d watch.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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