My Favourite Arnie Movie – Jingle All The Way (1996)

With Arnold Schwarzenegger returning to the big screen in The Last Stand, the Flickering Myth writing team look back at their favourite Arnie movies. Next up, Matt Smith with 1996’s Christmas epic Jingle All The Way…

A father must stop at nothing in order to get his son the toy he really wants for Christmas. Makes you wonder why he waited until the last minute though… also Sinbad’s in it, which is good because it’s the 90s.

Alternatively, a multi-faceted, bad tempered repeat offender takes five minutes to pay attention to his family who he tries to placate by buying high-in-demand goods. On the way, he strikes out at various strangers violently, is the direct cause of thousands of dollars worth of damage, attempts to escape from a hard working police officer, poses as an undercover agent in order to cover his tracks and misuses highly dangerous and highly experimental space-age technology. A Christmas lesson is learnt.

Okay. Wow. I’d forgotten how… this film is, and what it’s like. It’s something. Another Arnie attempt at comedy, this one ranking below Last Action Hero and Twins, but also below Junior.

What has the capacity of being a satire about the modern way of commercialism and modern culture, and how we don’t communicate as oh who cares, Arnie has to find that toy in time or his son’s world will explode or something.

Yes, anyone hoping for a biting satire of modern culture and the Christmas spirit should take a quick look at the tagline. It’s a family comedy and has the words ‘No prisoners’ on the poster, so any hope for anything related to clever comedy has been quickly and succinctly chased away by a fake reindeer, punched by a professional wrestling Santa and shoved on a jet pack.

The film is full of plot holes. The jet pack at the end criminally overlooks basic scientific principles, completely ignoring the reality of the situation. It also makes you wonder why the first thing you’d do after inventing a jet pack is give it to someone who wasn’t even involved in the parade in the first place. Why you’d give it to someone involved in a parade in the first place is another question entirely. But Arnie does outdo Jean Claude Van Damme’s punching of a snake by knocking out a reindeer, so well done him.

It doesn’t help that the direction is ordinary to say the most. I have no time for this, what I call lack of any certain style. It’s one step above a bad sitcom, and to confirm that James Belushi has a bit part. In all fairness, his character (a mall Santa who offers Arnie a last minute get out clause in the form of a badly made Turbo Man rip-off) is the only one who strikes a satirical chord. He’s the snake from the Garden of Eden given the job of Santa. His character provides darker commentary on what people will do to reach their last minute Christmas objective.

But what of the other funny people? Well, Phil Hartman is criminally underused, but that’s always the case if Phil Hartman isn’t the main character or doing voice work for The Simpsons. Sinbad tries far too hard, kind of like me except I’m not wearing a funny hat. Ahem.

Sinbad reportedly missed his first audition and screwed up the rescheduled one. He then decided to improvise instead of sticking to the script. He of course got the part and got second billing underneath the $20 million star. The film was, for some reason, not critically successful.

Arnold Schwarzenegger, reportedly excited about playing a human, doesn’t seem to stretch himself in this film. He’s like someone should varnish him and use him to eat at. It’s like he’s been assembled from an IKEA box that has too many of some parts and not enough of others. He has the acting capacity of something that you’d use to create a fire. He’s very wooden, is what I’m saying. Just like the film, always end on a good joke.

Matt Smith

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