Usually I like to write these a few days in advance, correct the typos, maybe even do a second draft, but I was pressed for time and just finished watching this steaming heap of offal about 30 seconds ago, so I'm afraid you're getting the raw data...
"We'll do it live!"
Jingle All The Way (1996)
Director: Brian Levant
Writer: Randy Kornfield
You know how you’ll be walking along, and suddenly notice footprint-shaped smears of dog crap, realize some pet must have deposited a pile on the sidewalk somewhere behind you, and wonder if you stepped in it too? Well, this film doesn’t keep you guessing. From the first seconds, where a jetpack-powered hero named Turbo Man throws boomerangs at the Power Rangers on what appears to be the set of Turkish Star Wars, you realize you’ve plowed knee-high through a dog doo drift. By the time it’s revealed that we’re watching a kid’s TV show with Jake Lloyd, from Star Wars: Episode One: The Phantom Menace, you give up hope of scraping your waffle-tread sneakers clean with a toothpick and just throw them in the trash.
Jake’s dad is Arnold Schwarzenegger, who is a terrible father because he misses Jake’s karate promotion, and is also apparently a fugitive from justice, since he’s living under the obviously assumed name of “Howard Langston.”
Arnold tries to compensate for his failure as a parent by barging into Jake’s room, tying the new karate belt around his forehead and lampooning Ralph Macchio in Karate Kid as a gesture of respect for all his son’s hard work. But Jake remains pissy, so Arnold decides to bribe him with a hunk of molded plastic from the Philippines. (On a personal note, my dad didn’t come to my purple belt graduation either, nor did he try to make it up to me with an action figure, which has always stung, even though I was thirty.)
So now Arnold has to get this stupid doll on Christmas Eve, but of course it’s sold out, so he goes on a picaresque journey in which he meets various mythological creatures, such as Sinbad, an unstable postal worker who rants about racism and alimony and tries to choke a random woman to death, presumably because women be different from men, i.e., more chokeable. The two race each other to the Mall of America, where Arnold gets into the ball pit at Camp Snoopy with a little girl and shouts, “I’m not a pervert!” Somehow this phrase sounds even more disturbing when bellowed in a thick Austrian accent.
Arnold falls in with a gang of toy smuggling mall Santas who try to cheat him with a Spanish-language Turbo Man doll. Arnold goes berserk and a fight breaks out, which climaxes with a dwarf getting punched so hard he flies across a warehouse, because the filmmakers were afraid the comic afterglow of the lady-choking scene was starting to wear off.
Arnold takes a moment to call home and scream at his son, then he and Sinbad share a tender moment where they drink and try to kill each other. Later, they go to a radio station to beat up Martin Mull, and Sinbad makes not one but two bomb threats, but only the second one is real, and he blows up Robert Conrad.
Meanwhile, Arnold sneaks into his neighbor Phil Hartman’s house and steals the gift-wrapped Turbo Man from under his tree, but he accidentally sets the nativity scene on fire and gets caught by his own wife. Arnold realizes he's been a dick, shows genuine contrition and struggles to make amends...I'm just kidding; he goes into a steroidal rage and punches out Phil’s pet reindeer, but he makes up for it as soon as the animal regains consciousness by getting it drunk. Tragically, he can’t be bothered to do us the same courtesy.
Phil drives Jake to the parade, then makes unwanted sexual overtures to Arnold’s wife in the car, because everybody in this movie is a sociopath. Meanwhile, Arnold runs into Robert Conrad, whose hands are hideously burned from the earlier explosion, and scalds him with coffee just to make sure. Then the parade organizers just happen to mistake Arnold for the guy who plays Turbo Man, so they strip him and dress him up in an elaborate costume while he stands there and mildly protests. It’s the kind of thing which could happen to anybody, and is exactly how I wound up standing in front of Sam’s Club dressed in a felt Pikachu costume. Twice.
Arnold rides around in the parade in his accidental costume, then summons Jake -- who he happens to spot amongst the hundred thousand people lining the route -- onto the float and gives him a special edition Turbo Man doll. But even though his own son doesn’t recognize him behind the mask, Sinbad does, so he dresses as Turbo Man’s arch enemy and they have a lame fight, which comes to a merciful end when Jake kicks Sinbad in the nuts (didn’t think that dull karate subplot was going to pay off, did you?)
But Sinbad didn’t hesitate to strangle a woman or blow up the star of Ba Ba Black Sheep, and he’s more than willing to murder a child, so he chases Jake onto the roof of a building, then up a Christmas tree. Fortunately, Arnold’s parade-quality superhero costume contains a real, working jetpack with an unlimited fuel supply, and he takes off and starts flying around downtown Minneapolis like the Rocketeer, pausing only to crash through and demolish the apartment of a black family who were just sitting down to dinner and probably didn't even know they were in this movie.
Arnold immediately masters the jetpack and can suddenly throw a boomerang like Crocodile Dundee. He knocks Sinbad off the rooftop Christmas tree where he tragically falls to what turns out not to be his death, then pulls off his mask and tries to convince his son that he’s secretly Turbo Man and has a very busy Power Ranger-fighting schedule, so Jake will understand when he doesn’t show up to any of his future school events, extracurricular activities, or birthday parties.
Okay, technically there was some other crap going on, but screw it, I'm calling time of death. THE. END.
Merry Christmas, everyone!
Oh, the pain...the pain...
Thank you, Dr. Smith. I knew you'd understand.
I think it's quite telling that Jake Lloyd was a co-star in this pile, but it still took "Phantom Menace" to sour him on movie making completely.
Holy crap, I think I watched this.....
I saw this stinking pile on an intercontinental airplane flight.
O god the pain. The pain.
And I watch the Mexican "Santa Claus" several times a year and genuinely enjoy it.
And then there's this:
So I take it you WON'T be writing about the sequel?
(On a personal note, my dad didn’t come to my purple belt graduation either, nor did he try to make it up to me with an action figure, which has always stung, even though I was thirty.)
Hey, that's about when I got my purple belt. And my dad didn't come, either. (Of course, I was in NYC and he lives in D.C.)
I'd heard of this movie but never seen it. Thanks, Scott, for taking the bullet. I will make sure I never watch this.
Fess up though. Wasn't "Octopussy" more enjoyable that this?
Alice, Octopussy was as knowing and witty as an Ernst Lubitsch film, as light and iridescent as a soap bubble compared to this tasteless, chewy chunk of Black Forest ham.
Wow. Just ... wow. Sinbad and Schwarzenegger? That's like deliberately slamming a couple of big chunks of radioactively bad acting together and spawning a runaway chain reaction of awfulness. I thought I just watched one of the worst Christmas movies ever, but I'll pass the medication to someone who obviously needs and deserves it far more than I.
Imagine Predator shot on location in the Mall of America. That would be Jingle All the Way.
That's gonna leave a mark...
he’s living under the obviously assumed name of “Howard Langston.”
Yeah, about that...WTF's up with casting a dumbass musclebound Austrian with an accent you could cut with a schnitzel as one Midwestern American type after another? My tinfoil hat whispers that the Hollywood Liberals knew that said DAMAWAAYCCWAS was a) box office whether he could act or not, as long as there was enough splodey going on, and b) was too stupid to realize they were fucking with him. Mostly I ignore my Chapeau d'Alcoa, but this time, I think it's on to something...
Meanie, "Chapeau d'Alcoa" needs to become the Official Term of Art.
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