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Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Review: Jingle All the Way

Some people are very punctual. Others can hardly get on time for anything. Howard Langston (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is one of those people that's always working, hardly ever making time for his family. It comes to a head on the night before Christmas Eve, when Howard misses his son's belt test. He makes it up to his son by promising to get him a certain toy for Christmas- one that he has failed to get. When he lies to wife about going to get it at the office, when in reality he's making a mad dash to the toy store to buy it, he finds out to his chagrin that this particular toy is the hottest selling toy of the year. Things get worse when mailman Myron Larabee (Sinbad) strikes up a rivalry with him in their mutual quest to obtain the Turbo Man action figure. Who will win? Who will lose? Will Howard realize that there's more to Christmas than material gain? Will the audience?

From the start, Jingle All the Way (originally made in 1996) is a genuinely good comedy. The gags are all wonderfully written and timed, and the movie moves right along at a brisk pace. Howard and Myron's antics are funny to watch, bolstered by the good acting of the hapless Schwarzenegger and Sinbad. I still crack up over the bomb scene, as does my dad.

There are a few downsides to this movie though. In addition to not making completely clear that there's more to Christmas than material gain, this movie suffers from sub-par acting on the part of Jake Lloyd, who plays Howard's son Jamie. As much as I hate to besmirch the reputation of any actor, I'll have to agree with those who say that Lloyd's acting leaves much to be desired. In addition, this movie is very nineties-ish, reveling in the excesses of that age. There's also a smattering of profanity that may deter families.

On the whole, Jingle All the Way has a lot going for it, but it's flaws weigh it down a little. It may be a genuinely good comedy, but it's hardly a genuinely good Christmas movie. To paraphrase Roger Ebert, I'd like some more good will toward men in my Christmas movies.

RATING: 8.5/10

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