If you haven’t been paying attention to Nick’s Flixmas, it’s okay because that’s all going to change right now. I’m writing about a Christmas film a day for 25 days and am already thirteen posts in. As we get into the Twelve Days of Flixmas, the remaining films will probaably the most recognizable to you all. We’re in the big leagues.
To kick off day fourteen of Nick’s Flixmas is Jingle All the Way, my favorite Christmas film starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. I almost want to say it’s my favorite Schwarzenegger film overall, but there’s plenty of stiff competition. No, you know what? It is my favorite Schwarzenegger film. It’s really hard to top “HE GOT TWO!” or “Put that cookie down, NOW!” or even “I’m not a pervert!”
[Nick’s Flixmas is a 25 day celebration of films Nick watches every Christmas! Nick will do some analysis, review, and just generally walk down memory lane. Hopefully you’ll enjoy the ride. Merry Flixmas!]
Jingle All the Way has been covered on the site before, with both a Cult Club and review, so I’m not sure what exactly I can say that’ll make my article different. But you know what? That doesn’t matter because Jingle All the Way is f**king great. But…it’s also the most terrible thing I’ve ever seen. Jingle is about hard working father Howard (Arnold Schwarzenegger) who tends to work so much that he misses a lot of his son’s terrible, terrible karate events. Seriously, they are terrible. What, the dad misses one event and he’s suddenly the worst father? Shut up kid, you are the worst. It honestly doesn’t help matters that his son Jamie is also the same kid that went on to become one of the worst thing in Star Wars history. Just watching this film after the fact makes me resent the kid so much. He has the coolest Marvel Comics room, however.
So the main thing that sets this story in motion is the fact the terrible kid wants a terrible doll, I mean “action figure.” In order to temporarily buy his spoiled child’s love, Howard has to search and terminate every other person alive to find the single Turboman doll his son wants. You wouldn’t expect a story like that to become the best Schwarzenegger movie, but it definitely surprises you. First of all, lots of notable folks are in the cast and it hides the fact the whole thing is terrible. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sinbad, Phil Hartman, Rita Wilson, Martin Mull, Jim Belushi, Big Show, and even Chris Parnell before he hit it big. But despite everything awful, it’s just so damn fun. It’s hard to hate it when everyone chews the scenery so knowingly. Phil Hartman especially steals so much of the show. The “PUT THE COOKIE DOWN! NOW!” scene remains my favorite to this day.
I’m glad Jingle All the Way is finally starting to get the recognition it deserves. Honestly I would’ve loved to be in the meeting that made it happen. Much like in Kindergarten Cop, who decided to stick tough man Schwarzenegger in a Christmas comedy? Schwarzenegger’s trademark heavy delivery and accent elevate standard lines. That “put the cookie down” line or “HE MACED MEEEEE!” would’ve have worked as well without him. And despite the film’s terribleness, there are a lot of inspired choices. Sure the bootleg conman has been pulled before, but giving that role to Jim Belushi? Having the Turboman speak in Spanish? Taking Howard to a factory full of Santas (and then fighting all of those Santas)? Genius.
So much of this movie shouldn’t work, but it just does. Sinbad’s character in general should be annoying, but he nails it. Those “Rodney King! Rodney King!” adlibs? Oh man. Phil Hartman’s character seeming slimy is more of his portrayal than anything. Then there are a lot of wacky decisions that only make sense because Schwarzenegger is there. The whole thing is comedy influenced by action movies. In a sense, the film is lampooning a lot of their quirkier aspects. There’s a bomb in a radio station, an unlikely duo teams up only for one of them to double cross the other, and everything is so exaggerated by Arnold’s performance. Is her serious? F**k if I know! So great.
And that finale? It’s the best thing I’ve seen in any Christmas movie. Hell, it’s the best thing I’ve ever seen in an action comedy. Jingle All the Way is such a great Schwarzenegger movie, it’s one of the few Christmas films you can watch outside of the holiday season and not feel like a dummy. It’s just full of a charm you can’t get now. The “shopping on Christmas Eve” story still rings true to this day. Although the advent of online shopping relieves a lot of the issues, you could still find yourself in the same shoes. If not, at least everyone will enjoy Schwarzenegger’s yargagaryah out of its standard context. I mean, he punches a reindeer!
Jingle All the Way is loving, cartoonish, and it’s still hilariously quotable. In fact, I’ll just finish this out by quoting a bunch of lines:
“I know who you are, you’re Booster!” “Yeah! And who they hell do you think you are? Mary Poppins?”
“You ever see the movie Vertigo? That mean anything to you?”
“You can’t benchpress your way out of this one.” (what)
“I got a Turboman for my Johnny months ago. It’s nestled safely under our tree.”
“He’s in my house. Putting up my star. On my tree…”
“Ta ta, Turtleman!”
Stay tuned tomorrow for more Nick’s Flixmas!