FOR THE LOVE OF FILM: Jingle All The Way

For The Love Of Film is a weekly column from film nerd and lover of all movies Justin Proper. Sometimes you need some help to figure out how to enjoy movies, and we are here to help! No longer will you need to fear movie night because your friends have no taste in film. With this column you will be able to love even the worst gems to ever grace the silver screen.

It is officially December and that means all the dumb Christmas (and Hanukkah…Chanukah…how the hell do you spell it?) stuff will be pretty much unavoidable. Instead of pretending that I hate the winter festivities I have decided to fully embrace them this year and dedicate this month to enjoying holiday films that most people consider less than spectacular.

If you don’t think Santa With Muscles is a cinematic masterpiece we cannot be friends.

There is no doubt in my mind that Christmas exists solely because of children. There also was some celebrity born that day like a million years ago or something (the creator of The Twilight Zone I think), but mostly because of kids. Every movie or TV special centers around kids in some way and nearly every other commercial that airs in December is for some new toy or video game. Instead of being a celebration of friends and families the holidays instead become a dark consumerist nightmare. One holiday film had the guts to expose this side of Christmas, and that film is Jingle All The Way.

Pictured: pure holiday terror.

Jingle All The Way stars Arnold Schwarzenegger as a dad who is struggling to find his kid the hot new toy (a superhero named Turbo-Man) in time for Christmas. Along the way he becomes enemies with Sinbad (the comedian, not the pirate) who is also trying to acquire the sweet new action figure for his son. At one point in the film Arnold gets a counterfeit toy operation (led by Jim Belushi) shut down, which is apparently a real thing.

Seems legit.

Eventually through some more zany antics Arnold ends up playing the Turbo-Man character in the holiday parade and tries to give his son the special toy only to be foiled by Sinbad, who ended up dressed as Turbo-Man’s villain. A scuffle ensues and Arnold’s kid ends up in danger. Arnold utilizes the Turbo-Man suit’s jetpack and saves his kid, then reveals his secret identity as The Terminator. Sinbad gets taken away by the cops and then in a heartwarming twist Arnold’s kid gives his toy to Sinbad’s kid because he thinks his dad is the real Turbo-man.

That smile is either pure joy or pure insanity. Either way someone should take that child away from him.

So what could possibly be wrong with this movie that sounds so amazing? A lot, evidently. The film is universally hated by critics. A lot of people found Arnold Schwarzenegger’s acting to be sub-par (some even calling it “wooden”) and that he did not really fit the role. Another complaint is that the script felt like a 90 minute sitcom instead of a true film. Others claimed the film existed only to sell merchandise.

You can actually still buy these on eBay. All of them sold by Arnold Schwarzenegger.

This is usually the part where I explain that all those critiques are wrong. Not this time. Those are all valid complaints. The reason Jingle All The Way is a good movie is because it is real. I do not mean real like the events in the film actually happened, I mean real like it took a thing that happens every year and made a movie about it. The holidays turn people in to vicious animals when it comes to shopping, and this movie nailed it.

Animals that fight violently over shit they do not need.

Jingle All The Way actually is a clever satire disguised as a family film. It is a commentary about how people become monsters to get their kids what they want. A bunch of Santas become a criminal organization. A working dad literally becomes the villain of his kid’s favorite show. It is just perfect.

11 months out of the year this man is completely normal.

Sure, Jingle All The Way is predictable. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s performance is, well, exactly what you would expect. The movie kind of drags on and on in the second act. But if you take the time to watch it as more than what is on the surface you will realize that this film is smarter than nearly any other holiday film released in the last two decades.

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