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Jingle All The Way Review

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Howard Langston (Schwarzenegger) is a man so busy that, come Christmas he has forgotten to buy his son (Lloyd) a present. The boy wants what every other boy wants - Turbo Man. Unfortunately, they're so popular, by Christmas eve they can't be found for love or money. Desperate not to disappoint the lad, Harold sets out on an odyssey of consumerism.

★★★★

This was 1996's second film about a man on a quest in the snowy Twin Cities region of Minnesota. There, however, all similarities between Fargo and Jingle All The Way must end - because this is Arnie and this is Christmas, and would you please check your brain in at the door as you join the queue for the popcorn?

The film starts, and ends, like an episode of Power Rangers. In between we are asked to believe that Arnie is Howard Langston, a high-powered business man (he sells beds) with a wife (Rita Wilson, trapped in a horribly one-dimensional stereotype) and so few organisational skills that he forgets to buy his only son (Jake Lloyd) a single Christmas present - namely the hero du jour action figure Turbo Man. As Arnie sets out on Christmas Eve to rectify the situation, we are introduced to the loathsomely perfect divorcee next door (Hartman) - who has already secured a Turbo Man for his son (a lad predicatbly much fatter and uglier than Arnie's) and has just brought home a reindeer, to boot - and the idea (presumably due to some catastrophic production cock-up) that Turbo Man has completely sold out. Joining Arnie in his quest is hapless postman Myron Larabee (Sinbad, trying desperately to be funnier than his hat).

As in his cartoon-style nightmare that was The Flintstones, director Levant blitzes the screen with primary colours and here has no qualms about lacing a kiddie's movie with gags based on lecherous divorces, alcohol and - most worringly - parcel bombs. He gives the Austrian Oak no leeway for the one kind of comedy he can handle - tongue-in-cheek self-depracation - and, other than an animatronic reindeer, seems to save almost all the budget for a final effects sequence that sees Arnie save the day by putting on a Turbo Man suit. Yo-ho-hum.

Anything as wooden as Arnie in a Christmas movie would normally be wearing flashing lights. His assistant was presumably on call to sweep up the needles at his feet. The one saving grace is Lloyd, who gives a terrific and lively potrayal despite some horribly sentimental lines. He is the movie's guiding star, a lone bright light in a string of dud bulbs. Otherwise, beware.

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