Jingle All The Way (1996)
Christmas is the most wonderful – but unfortunately also the most commercial – time of the year. With all the running around, racking up debt, and obsessing over finding the perfect gift, it is easy to forget the true reason for the season. A long time ago, a very special boy was born, who changed the world for all of us, for the better. And that boy was Andre The Giant. So take a little time out over the next few weeks to think about that.
When you are not worshipping Andre The Giant and trying to track down the latest electronic gizmo for your Aunt Hazel, you should be sitting back and enjoying some gifts from Hollywood. For year after year, the studios fill up their sacks and deliver the finest Christmas-themed films to theatres and TV screens all over the world. This week, I’ll be taking a look at one of the greatest Christmas films of all time. Nay, one of the greatest films of all time, period. It is my honour to review the Arnold Schwarzenegger classic, Jingle All The Way.
In Jingle All The Way, Schwarzenegger portrays Howard Langston, a father who is so obsessed with his career that he often neglects his wife Liz (Rita Wilson) and son Jamie (Jake Lloyd). In order to get back in his family’s good graces, Howard attempts to acquire the hottest toy of the Christmas season for his son: a Turbo-Man action figure. This proves to be easier said than done.
Taking inspiration from the Cabbage Patch Kids craze of the 1980s, Howard’s goal of getting his giant, meaty paws on a Turbo-Man figure for his son provides an endless array of side-splitting moments. While we are lucky to live in an age where you can pick out nearly anything on a computer and have it delivered to your home within days – be it a toy, an iPad or a Russian bride – but it wasn’t always so. Parents used to have to queue up for hours and be prepared to engage in fisticuffs in order to land the toy for their child. It’s a little known fact that the early Ultimate Fighting Championship cards were entirely comprised of fathers trying to win Power Ranger dolls for their young’uns. It was all worth it, though, when your child opened that bloodstained toy on Christmas morning.
Howard develops a rivalry with Myron Larabee (Sinbad), an equally eager dad who also has his eyes on the Turbo-Man prize. Myron and Howard engage in a thrilling and hysterical game of cat and mouse as they encounter a crooked mall Santa (James Belushi), cops, robbers and every obstacle under the sun as they battle it out to see who can win their child’s affection.
Schwarzenegger delivers a tour-de-force performance. It is clear that Schwarzenegger was drawing on his own experiences running around, trying to obtain presents for his children, both the legitimate and illegitimate ones. We always knew that Arnold was a great politician and a tremendous action hero, but Jingle All The Way proves that this man’s true forte is making people laugh.
Speaking of making people laugh, few do it better than Arnold’s costar in this film, Sinbad. I don’t know how somebody with “bad” in their name can be so good, but this man accomplishes it. It takes a hell of a performer to equal Arnold in the laughs department, but Sinbad manages the impossible. This performance netted him the prestigious Blockbuster Entertainment Award for “Favorite Supporting Actor – Family”. You know who has never won that award? Daniel Day-Lewis, Anthony Hopkins and Denzel Washington, just to name a few.
I would be remiss if I did not also single out the excellent work in this film by Jake Lloyd. Lloyd delivers the greatest performance by any young thespian that I have ever had the good fortune to witness. Lloyd shines as Jamie, a boy who desperately wants his father’s love, and a Turbo-Man figure, although not necessarily in that order. It is no wonder that George Lucas cast Lloyd as young Anakin Skywalker in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace in a grueling audition process that made The Hunger Games look tame in comparison. Lloyd went on to great things, such as providing the voice of Anakin Sywalker in the Star Wars: Super Bombad Racing video game. But he is perhaps best known for his role as the voice of Anakin Skywalker in the Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds video game.
This Christmas season, instead of pumping a bunch of money needlessly into the economy, give your loved ones the greatest gift they could possibly receive. Gather them all in front of the TV, and show them how much you care by pressing play, and watching Jingle All The Way. After that experience, you may never have to buy them another gift.