CHRISTMAS MOVIE COUNTDOWN #10: Jingle All The Way

The Christmas movie countdown is our way of sharing the movies that get us in the festive mood, every day until xmas (kinda like an advent calender, minus the chocolate, sorry)

I don’t know about you, but nothing gets me in the Christmas spirit quite like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sinbad, and baby Anakin Skywalker.

jingle

“Jingle All the Way” came out in 1996, when I was but a wee three-year-old. My older brother, who was my childhood idol, loved this movie. Every year, without fail, we would cozy up on the couch, pop in this VHS, and excitedly scream, “IT’S TURBO TIME!” This film brings me back to a time when Santa was undoubtedly real and Arnold was a maybe a bit more attractive. A time when I wanted nothing more than to make paper snowflakes and hang the ornaments on my advent calendar. Even though this film seems quite silly to me, now, I still love it, because I associate it with my once pure hearted, childlike appreciation for Christmas.

The film stars Arnold as Harold Langston, a workaholic who pays very little attention to his son, Jamie (Jake Lloyd aka young Anakin). In a sad attempt to win back his son’s favor, Harold goes on the hunt for TurboMan, the en vogue action figure of the year. Back home, Harold’s recently widowed next-door neighbor, Ted, is relishing in Harold’s absence and attempting to seduce his wife, Liz. As if Ted’s lecherous behavior was not enough to set Harold on edge, the toy his son so desperately desires is sold out everywhere. He travels all across town, going head-to-head with young children, other parents, and a band of “bad elves” in the hopes of acquiring the action figure. Of course, no good adventure would be quite complete without a rival, which Harold finds in mail carrier, Myron (Sinbad), who is also hunting for the elusive Turbo Man.

As silly and unrealistic as this film is, I really appreciate its focus on the role of fathers in the family unit. Harold, Myron, and Ted are all desperate fathers attempting to ameliorate their poor familial relations. Harold is desperate to win back the love of his son and prevent the dissolution of his marriage to Liz. Myron, battling similar family relationship problems, insists that he and Harold are really the same, even if Harold refuses to accept it. The hostility of the interactions between Harold and Myron escalate throughout the duration of the film, but, in a ridiculous, costumed battle on a parade float, the two fathers begin to see eye-to-eye. Who knew that peace could be achieved through jet packs and mascot-like creatures?

What this film lacks in character development and strong plot, it makes up for in bizarre slapstick humor. Though Jingle All the Way captures the tensions, stresses, and consumerism of the holiday season, it is this lighthearted humor that allows the film to remain a “family friendly” comedy. Though Harold is portrayed as the “hero,” because he saves Jamie’s Christmas by obtaining Turbo Man, it is really not the toy that matters, it is his commitment to being present in Jamie’s life that makes him not heroic, per se, but a pretty decent guy.

My favorite scene of the film would have to be when Harold tries to buy a Turbo Man from a mall Santa (James Belushi) who is the ringleader of a crew that distributes counterfeit toys. Harold accuses this Santa of diminishing the true meaning of Christmas, catalyzing a battle with the gang:

But really, I can’t help but keel over in laughter during the scene in which Harold calls home only to have Ted answer while eating one of Liz’s cookies:

DOES IT PASS THE BECHDEL TEST??

This film does not pass the Bechdel Test, due to Liz being the only notable woman in the film. However, I don’t find this to be particularly negative, because the film’s focus is on father-father and father-son relationships.

By Katarina

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