Jingle All the Way: Family Fun Edition
Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Rita Wilson, Jake Lloyd, Sinbad, Jim Belushi, Robert Conrad, Phil Hartman
Director: Brian Levant
SUNY Purchase '05
"I don't compromise my values and I don't compromise my work. I won't give in." -Michael Moore
Jingle All the Way: Family Fun Edition
Review By: Rocco Passafuime
Jingle All The Way:Family Fun Edition
The exciting film career for former-bodybuilder-turned-larger-than-life-megastar Arnold Schwarzenegger hit a rocky road for much of the 1990's. For every spectacular success such as The Terminator series and True Lies came equally spectacular disasters like Last Action Hero, Junior, and Batman And Robin. However, no disastrous film for Schwarzenegger proved to be more spectacular than the Christmas comedy Jingle All The Way, now available on DVD in an all-new "Family Fun Edition"Â.
Howard Langston (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is a well-meaning, but workaholic mattress salesman. As Christmas draws near, he finds himself increasingly at odds with his wife Liz (Rita Wilson) and his particularly, his son Jamie (Jake Lloyd), who feels that Howard has not put enough effort as a father.
However, more disaster looms for Howard when, after promising to buy Jamie the talking doll of the live-action TV superhero Turbo Man, he discovers one day before Christmas he never got the toy.
When he attempts to correct his mistake, Howard discovers that getting the doll will be no easy task as the doll is the most sought-after Christmas gift of the holiday season. As he goes through every store in town to find one, Howard has to fight through fellow parents determined to get the toy for their fickle child, including Myron Larabee (Sinbad), a frenzied postal worker, a crooked mall Santa (Jim Belushi), who tricks him into buying a low-rent counterfeit knockoff, and a police officer (Robert Conrad) who arrests him when he speeds.
However, things grow increasingly shaky for Howard as he still doesn't have the doll and his obnoxiously model neighbor Ted Maltin (Phil Hartman) begins slowly getting overtly friendly with Liz. Worst of all, when he and Myron are each offered a rare special collector's edition of the doll, the latter is determined to have the doll no matter what and goes to the most extreme lengths to get it from Howard.
The movie's intent, it would seem, is to satirize the rather materialistic and ugly side of Christmas gift-giving. However, this is severely undercut by Randy Kornfeld's rather cynical, patchy, and ultimately irresolute script, which creates problems on all levels.
The sketchy characters, for example, create a problem with the cast. The great Phil Hartman's is saddled with a character that's ultimately underused, Sinbad is saddled with one that is incredibly ambiguous and ultimately pathetic, and Schwarzenegger, despite being charismatic as always, seems woefully out of place here as an absentee, white-collar father.
Another problem is that the film's black satire sours much of the film's otherwise cheery atmosphere through much of the film as a result of the ambiguousness of the film's message. And despite picking up a bit with an admittedly exciting and special-effects laden standoff involving the two fathers dressed up as the TV show's characters, it only further takes the movie over the top and erodes any good intent
The DVD picture quality is in the 1:85:1 anamorphic widescreen aspect ratio, with sound quality in Dolby Digital Surround 5.1. The all-new Family Fun Edition contains both the original theatrical cut and an all-new extended director's cut, which ultimately adds very little to the movie.
The extra scenes you can also view individually in the Added Footage section on the Theatrical Cut section. The DVD is also packed with plenty of special features.
The first is a featurette titled "The Making Of A Hero"Â, which mostly discusses the conception of Turbo Man into the film. It's a bit on the frothy side, but features fascinating behind-the-scenes footage of the stunts during the Turbo Man climax and interviews with director Brian Levant, producer Michael Barnathan, Turbo Man character designer Tim Flattery, and actors Dan Riordan and Arnold Schwarzenegger, the last culled from promotional material from the film's theatrical release.
However, even frothier is the featurette "Super Kids"Â, which interviews a bunch of random children who talk about what they like in a superhero. "Turbo Man: Behind The Mask"Â is a mock-documentary about the superhero that is not only frothy, but ridiculous.
Also included are some games, which are mildly fun for young viewers. They consist of a navigation game called Christmas Rush and a memory game called Guess The Gift. Rounding out the special features is a photo gallery slideshow, set to the score, that shows many behind-the-scenes photos.
All in all, Jingle All The Way seemingly sets out to satirize against the uglier and more materialistic side of Christmas. However, its hazy script, flat characters, and ominously cynical tone ultimately hurts any positive effort whatsoever and seemingly turns this family-targeted holiday film into the most disparaging of its kind.
Movie Grade: D
DVD Features Grade: C
Overall Grade: D