Arnold Schwarzenegger isn’t traditionally associated with kids movies or Christmas. 1996’s “Jingle All the Way” delivered a hilarious, albeit unintentionally so, seasonal comedy. Though the dialogue, cinematography, and overall plot are admittedly corny, the great cast, adorable storyline, and commentary on consumerism make “Jingle All the Way” as delightful as a glass of spiked eggnog, which aid in the viewing experience of this fine flick.
Dedicated mattress salesman Howard Langston (Arnold Schwarzenegger), concentrates on his job a tad too much, allowing it to take precedence over his son Jamie (Jake Lloyd) and wife Liz (Rita Wilson). Next door neighbor Ted Maltin (Phil Hartman) on the other hand, appears as the epitome of the father figure. After disappointing Jamie by missing his karate class graduation ceremony, Howard vows to correct his mistake by obtaining the elusive Turbo-Man action figure for his son.
Naturally, everyone including fellow frantic postal worker and dad Myron Larabee (Sinbad), is rushing to buy a Turbo-Man. Langston’s search, not surprisingly, erupts into a bevy of near misses. There’s a particularly comedic run-in with a sketchy mall Santa, portrayed by Jim Belushi. The jolly Santa scams Howard, which feels realistic considering how many contemporary knock-offs have emerged in the past few years. There’s also a radio station giveaway, a similar let down, and like most free giveaways, there’s a catch. The finale consists of a ridiculous sequence where Howard dons a Turbo-Man outfit in the Christmas parade, and saves Jamie with a functioning, flying suit.
“Jingle All the Way” doesn’t have the quaint charm of a Bing Crosby holiday film or the memorable sentiment of the countless animated and claymation Christmas classics. What makes “Jingle All the Way” a December staple is the self-aware goofiness. Under the corny jokes and the predictable gags lies a brief commentary on society and the materialism fostered by holidays. With the growing accounts of violence and mayhem on Black Friday and before Christmas, it’s a thought-provoking, even if unintended, theme. Additionally, Larabee and Langston share a smooth chemistry in their continuous race for the Turbo-Man.
Ultimately, while it might not be Arnold Schwarzenegger’s best overall flick, there’s a reason “Jingle All the Way” begs for a viewing each season. It’s simply an adorable, hilarious, romp depicting a fairly accurate shopping frenzy. Plus, Arnie’s puns make any movie fantastic, eliciting a string of laughter. For a proper experience, wear a tacky Christmas sweater while watching this gem of a Christmas story