Review: Jingle All the Way

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For the most part, I’m a bit of a grinch when it comes to Christmas. I hate this time of year and even more than that, I hate holiday themed movies. With that being said, Jingle All the Way has a special place in my heart.

I think it’s safe to say that everybody knows that Jingle All the Way is a terrible movie. With a holiday themed film staring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sinbad, how could any good come out of this movie? Still, mention Jingle All the Way to anybody born in the late 80s/early 90s and there’s bound to be some level of endearment towards the film. Inspiring many memes and feelings of nostalgia, it’s a wonder how a film with a 15% rating on Rottentomatoes.com can gain such a cult following.

For the most part, I'm a bit of a grinch when it comes to Christmas. I hate this time of year and even more than that, I hate holiday themed movies. With that being said, Jingle All the Way has a special place in my heart.

I think it’s safe to say that everybody knows that Jingle All the Way is a terrible movie. With a holiday themed film staring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sinbad, how could any good come out of this movie? Still, mention Jingle All the Way to anybody born in the late 80s/early 90s and there’s bound to be some level of endearment towards the film. Inspiring many memes and feelings of nostalgia, it’s a wonder how a film with a 15% rating on Rottentomatoes.com can gain such a cult following.{{page_break}}

Schwarzenegger plays mattress salesman Howard Langston, a workaholic who neglects his wife and son. After missing his son’s karate recital (lulz) for the umpteenth time, his only chance to redeem himself is to buy him a Turbo Man doll for Christmas. Easy enough, except it’s the day before Christmas and Turbo Man is the hot ticket item this year.

Jingle All the Way sticks closely to Murphy’s law of “anything that can go wrong, will go wrong”, as any and every kind of obstacle will be thrown at Schwarzenegger’s character. What should seemingly be a simple task is thwarted by the likes of rabid reindeer, an enraged Sinbad, terrorist threats, and ninja Santas (not to mention that Phil Hartman trying to f*ck Arnold’s wife throughout the entire film). It’s through the heightened degree of sheer ridiculousness that this film is able to gain any kind of entertainment value.

There’s a sense of bizarreness that’s evident throughout this film. Ignored is the fact that Arnold Schwartzenegger’s character really is a terrible father and the only thing that can redeem his awful parenting to his wiener kid is a doll. It’s insane that his prick of neighbor owns a reindeer and has bedded half of the neighborhood with his sights now set on Arnold’s wife. More ludicrous is the fact that Arnold fights a gang of singing con men in Santa Suits, ranging from midget Santa, ninja Santa, and even wrestler Santa (played by Big Show of WCW/WWF fame). At one point, a mail bomb explodes in a police officer’s face, and miraculously he survives like he’s in a Looney Toons cartoon. Because of the subtle dark subject matter wrapped in an awful Christmas movie, the film takes on a level of ridiculousness that you can’t help but enjoy.

By no means does anybody in this film deserve any kind of merit as far as acting or comedic timing. Arnold Schwarzenegger playing a suburbanite mattress salesman is about as believable as Bronson Pinchot playing Malcolm X. Arnold’s wiener kid is just as annoying as he was in Star Wars Episode I and I’m pretty sure Sinbad just stumbled unto the set and is really that crazy. Even the late Phil Hartman hams it up on screen, but somehow it works so well because it’s Phil Hartman and he plays home wrecker with such manic glee. It's this level of cheesiness, bad dialogue and awful one liners that only add to the value of this film.

Part of what has kept Jingle All the Way relevant is its uniqueness among other holiday films. Though you get a cheesy half-assed ending where everybody learns the true meaning of Christmas, most of the film is a cynical take on the shallow commercialization of Christmas. It’s because of this plus it’s sheer lunacy that makes it so enjoyable despite being an awful movie. It's part of the "So bad, it's good" group that is often hard to get into, but celebrated when it's achieved.

Overall Score: 5.20 – Bad. 5s are movies that either failed at reaching the goals it set out to do, or didn’t set out to do anything special and still had many flaws. Some will enjoy 5s, but unless you’re a fan of this genre, you shouldn’t see it, and might not even want to rent it.

Jingle All the Way is a terrible movie if you take it seriously. Once you strip it down and accept the ridiculousness of it all, despite being a terrible movie, it’s so much fun. Despite giving it such a low score, I can’t help but recommend grabbing a couple of beers and seeing this with friends. If you ever wanted to see Arnold Schwarzenegger punch a reindeer in the f*cking face, this is the movie for you.

Also, because this is the season of giving, I present to you “Jungle All the Way”: