I admit it. I love Jingle All the Way. It’s one of the few not so great Arnold Schwarzenegger movies of the mid to late 90’s. The movie is about a disappointing dad who sets out of Christmas Eve to attempt to find the toy his son wants for Christmas.
Also known as Chris Parnell’s first movie!
I’m sure a certain amount of my love for this movie comes from the fact that I watched this when I was a kid and I’m a sucker for nostalgia. Usually as you grow up you realize how terrible the movie really was and you only like it for the nostalgic way it makes you feel, but Jingle All the Way is not like this for me. I think even when I was 8 years old I realized that this movie was ridiculous. Other than It’s the Wonderful Life and How the Grinch Stole Christmas (animated version) I’m pretty sure I have watched this movie the most (more than Die Hard I think too…).
Watch out! Spoilers!
Something I loved about this movie is that although you know the story is going to work out and that he will likely somehow find his son a Turbo Man doll – you don’t really see the extravagant conclusion coming until just before it happens. It’s foreshadowed nicely in the opening scenes while his son (little Anakin) is watching the Turbo Man TV show and it’s mentioned that Turbo Man will be at the parade, but you never really expect that Arnold’s character, Howard, would end up “being” Turbo Man. Maybe it’s more obvious to adults but since I watched it as a kid first I had no clue.
There is also something extremely satisfying about seeing Arnold show up the smarmy jerk (neighbour Ted) who is trying to steal his wife. I mean, Howard is practically never present for his family throughout the movie but it is clear that he does care about them and is making a huge effort (though greatly delayed) to make them happy. I do think that the movie does make it clear that he would go to great lengths for his son despite his mistakes. Though his wife, Liz, smacking Mr. Smarmy on the head near the end of the movie is my favourite.
This line also has a special place in my heart.
Both as a kid and an adult I have majorly enjoyed the physical comedy (mostly violence) of Jingle All the Way. I mean the police officer’s main purpose in the movie may be to add snares to Arnold’s plans but he ends up being the brunt of a lot of the physical comedy. Oh and let’s not forget the amazing Santa fight sequence where Arnold gets to show off his muscles a bit. Though if the movie was ever remade I’m sure there would never be a scene with an actual bomb in it. You cannot get away with bomb humour anymore not with everything that has happened in the world since 1996.
As an adult this movie sums up how I feel about shopping close to Christmas. Luckily I do not have kids so I do not have to do the search for the very particular hot toy of the season (I remember my parents scavenging for Tickle-me-Elmos and Furbies in my childhood). I do however avoid malls like the plague and attempt to do all my shopping via Amazon because people get crazy.
I can only imagine how the people working at those popular retail stores feel when December comes around. You would think that this movie would be a good example of why you should complete your Christmas shopping before the Christmas rush but sometimes you just cannot change the way you are programmed to prepare for Christmas (nothing like the impending gift giving to finally drag yourself out to get the gift!).
How I feel prepping for Christmas shopping.
Overall this movie has a wonderful charm that for me has never gotten old. It is definitely dated now (20 years later!) but the theme of merchandising and commercialization of Christmas is something that is still present in holidays now. Also like most Christmas movies, it enforces the importance of family – a concept that will never grow old.
What do you think about Jingle All the Way? Let us know in the comments!