[pullquote cite=”” type=”left, right”][amazon text=Amazon&template=carousel&chan=That Film Guy&asin=B00DDRP386][/pullquote] Arnold Schwarzenegger was one of the highest grossing actors of the 1980s, with films like The Terminator and Predator rocketing him to superstardom. By the mid-1990s however he had exchanged action-adventure for family-friendly comedy films like Twins and this seasonal caper, Jingle All the Way. Made for $75m, it took almost twice that at the box office and is a favourite around Christmas because of its portrayal of a parents manic rush to buy the ˜must have’ Christmas toy for their children.
Howard Langston (Scharzenegger) is desperate to prove to his son Jamie (Jake Lloyd) that he does care and isn’t a bad parent, so he sets out to buy his son a Turbo-Man doll for Christmas. Unaware that the toy is the biggest seller and that everywhere is running low during the festive season, he finds himself in a race against other parents, notably Myron Larabee (Sinbad) whom becomes his nemisis in the search for the gold-dust-like toy.
Jingle All the Way is a fascinating thesis on the consumerisation of Christmas. It sets out to show that for a parent who has treated their child with disregard and something bordering on content that buying a simple toy would fix all the wrongs. It seems that the film-makers wanted to try and satirise such materialism, but in the process have made an entire film that’s premise relies upon the very thing that it is mocking. It’s saying, look at this poor man trying to make up for months of bad parenting by buying his way out of it. Then in the end, the resolution proves that this is in fact the way that all parents should deal with problems of this kind.
If you remove this heavy-handed sub-metaphor then Jingle All the Way is actually good fun. Scharzenegger is on fine form and his neurotic performance shows that when his unique charisma is used properly, he can be a thoroughly entertaining comic performer. The various ˜action’ scenes stop the over-sentimental scenes from making Jingle All the Way truly awful and there will be plenty in there that parents recognise from their own experiences around the busy Christmas shopping period.
Not the best Arnie comic caper, but it’s no Batman & Robin either. Jingle All the Way is a joke of a premise that is given enough character and charm by its leading man to become a TV staple around the Christmas period.