Jingle All The Way is a 1996, comedy/family film, rated PG for action violence, mild language and some thematic elements.
The movie stars Arnold Schwarzenegger, Rita Wilson, and Sinbad, with cameos by Robert Conrad, Phil Hartman, Martin Mull, James Belushi, and Harvey Korman and Laraine Newman. (See if you can spot them as you watch.)
I admit that I enjoyed watching Arnold’s movies back in the day. There is something really funny about a big body builder playing comedic roles, like in Twins, and Kindergarten Cop (I liked the sci-fi films he did too, particularly The Terminator films), and then there’s True Lies. I didn’t doubt that Jingle All The Way would be a funny film I’d like.
Howard Langston (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is a successful, driven businessman, overworking to the point that he neglects his son Jamie, and is seldom there for his wife Liz (Rita Wilson). All comes to a head when he realizes he did not get the one thing in the entire world his son wants for Christmas, a Turbo Man action figure.
With mere hours to spare, he sets out to find this elusive action figure doll that has sold out in every store. He meets another late shopper, postal worker Myron Larabee (Sinbad), and they proceed to travel their way around the city in search of Turbo Man.
Meanwhile, Ted (Phil Hartman), a divorced single father, is putting the moves on Liz, eating Howard’s cookies, and ingratiating himself with his neighbors by somehow getting a real live reindeer for his yard.
It is a fight to the end as to who will nab the last of the Turbo Man action figures. Lots of slapstick comedy ensues, and Howard gets to come to the rescue as he stumbles upon the Wintertainment parade float featuring Turbo Man. Here Arnold gets to do a turn in a bigger than life role reminiscent of other action heroes he has portrayed, redeeming himself with his son and wife in the process.
I liked the film, it was funny and made me laugh, sometimes just at Arnold delivering his lines in his famous Austrian accent. It was fun seeing all the actors from 20 years ago, and how the world has changed (no cell phones around; Howard has to use a pay phone). In a world where commercialism runs rampart around Christmas time and in fact begins much earlier, pre-Thanksgiving and then with Black Friday, these scenes of mad, desperate shoppers should not be foreign to anyone tuning in. There is a poignant sadness to the distance between father and son and husband and wife brought on by materialism and a disregard for the important (do not allow the urgent to displace the important).
The soundtrack features plenty of familiar Christmas songs you’ll like. If you let the credits roll while you’re cleaning up the popcorn you spilled, you will see a final scene with Howard and Liz at the Christmas tree. A priceless moment after all Howard has been through.