Everyone has that one Christmas movie they utterly enjoy but is of questionable Christmas spirit. For some, it can be Die Hard, which is a Christmas movie for some. It can be something like The Nightmare Before Christmas, Bad Santa and, heck, let’s even add Krampus to the list. They still have Christmas as their central theme so I think it’s okay to give them a pass. My extra favorite off-beat film of the holidays may not be as outlandish nor as counter to the traditional warm fuzzy feeling other classic Christmas movies supposed to give us. I do think it’s still underappreciated because of how demented and cynical it is towards the season.
That movie is Jingle All The Way, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Jingle All The Way focuses on Arnold Schwarzenegger’s character, Howard Langdon, and his attempts to get the hottest toy, a Turboman action figure, for his son as a Christmas gift. It might seem like a simple endeavor but, as it is the hottest toy of the season, all the stores don’t have it in stock anymore. So Arnold (I can’t really call him Howard because it is plainly Arnold Schwarzenegger in my mind) goes on a wild and wacky journey in the quest to find a Turboman action figure.
I saw Jingle All The Way at the wee age of around 4-year’s old and, like a lot of little girls at the time, I wanted to get a new Barbie doll for my birthday and Christmas. I wanted every relative who would give me a present to give me a Barbie doll. So when I didn’t get one, I was still happy to get some new toy or something but there was always a twinge of disappointment of not getting my favored doll.
How does my experience at the time tie into Jingle All The Way? Well, I totally understood the premise of the film! I got why a popular toy was difficult to get; it’s because my friends and I wanted to get it! I also understood the concept of inept but well-meaning adults who would get something “like a Barbie doll” but wasn’t a Barbie doll. At best, they would get me something that was related to Barbie but wasn’t Barbie. You know, like Turboman’s sidekick, Booster. Sorry, but no one likes Booster!
The odd thing is, despite Jingle All The Way being released more than 20 years ago, the same frenzy over the “hottest toy” of the season still rings true today! Even just recently with the release of the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X and the consoles being sold out and hoarded by scalpers, Jingle All The Way’s central theme rings true. This just proves it’s a little more contemporary than you may think!
Come to think of it, Jingle All The Way just might be my first Arnold Schwarzenegger movie. I think he’s actually one of the reasons why I love the movie a lot. That’s because the man has a funny accent! His tone of speech is completely his own and it’s one of the reasons why Arnold is Arnold and one of the biggest action stars ever. However, when you’re a kid and you hear that voice coming out of his mouth for the first time, it’s incredibly funny! I mean, him saying “Put that cookie down!” still gets me every time!
As a kid, I loved the slapstick humor of Jingle All The Way. Oh, I could follow the general plot of the movie and Arnold going to different places in the vain attempt to find the unicorn that is the Turboman action figure. Being a kid’s movie, of course everything is supposed to be played for laughs but some of the jokes just seem weird. I’m glad the explosive device Simbad had was mostly harmless but, man! What luck that, first, Simbad actually got a bomb and, second, the bomb exploded like some kind of Looney Tunes explosive!
This does neatly segue to another reason why I love Jingle All The Way: Simbad. He’s the disgruntled postal worker also hunting for a Turboman action figure who becomes a thorn on Arnold’s side. Their motives are actually incredibly similar and a part of me did want them to work together… but a part of me is glad they didn’t. Simbad is a great foil to Arnold here and I do think, while this is still Arnold’s movie, Simbad plays a great psuedo partner. I kind of wish Jingle All The Way had a sequel showing the events of the film from Simbad’s point of view and his adventures!
While I do like all of the kiddie humor and some of the cartoony violence the film offers, I do appreciate the more adult jokes and commentary now. I didn’t get a lot of the somewhat adult humor that’s been built into the film. Jingle All The Way is a Christmas movie through and through but it’s one of the most cynical Christmas movies I’ve seen and it’s something I didn’t realize until I got older. You have to understand, as a very young child, Christmas wasn’t good cheer and all that jazz. Christmas was about all the presents and the parties you would attend! Sure, it’s the unadulterated commercialization of the holiday but, to a kid, that’s what it’s all about! Jingle All The Way, though is played using satire, kind of connected with me as the “true” meaning of the season.
Of course, I didn’t understand it was satire then but, as an adult, I do get it now. I also like how, unlike most Christmas movies, there isn’t a lesson to be learned nor do the characters actually show any real growth. Heck, even the kid, who’s supposed to be doing the altruistic deed by giving the Turboman figure to Simbad isn’t doing it because he’s good. No, he’s doing it because he doesn’t need it! He doesn’t need to brag that he has the new toyto his friends. He can say that his father is actually Turboman!
So, is Jingle All The Way a good movie? I can’t really say it is but what I can say is it’s an enjoyable movie. It’s the kind of film you can turn off your brain and just let the dumbness wash over you. It’s a strong guilty pleasure of mine. Even now that I’m older and can see the cracks and niggling bad bits of the film, I can overlook the weird mix of slapstick and satire. Sure, it may be the nostalgia talking and taking over my mind but I can’t help but enjoy Jingle All The Way. If it’s on, you can bet I’ll be watching it… even if it’s not Christmas.
Have you seen Jingle All The Way? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comments section below!