Today’s feature is the 1996 holiday comedy Jingle All The Way, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sinbad.
Jingle All The Way was written by Randy Kornfield, whose only other particularly notable film was the horror comedy Eight Legged Freaks.
Jingle All The Way was directed by Brian Levant, who also helmed such esteemed flicks as Snow Dogs, A Christmas Story 2, The Flintstones, Beethoven, and The Flintstones In Viva Rock Vegas.
The cinematographer for the movie was Victor J. Kemper, who shot movies like Hot To Trot, Clue, Xanadu, Mr. Mom, Slap Shot, Dog Day Afternoon, and National Lampoon’s Vacation.
Jingle All The Way featured three credited editors: Adam Weiss (Dracula: Dead And Loving It, Bull Durham), Wilt Henderson (Howling II, Gremlins 2), and Kent Beyda (S. Darko, Jonah Hex, The Flintstones, Saturday the 14th, This Is Spinal Tap).
The team of producers for Jingle All The Way included Michael Barnathan (Pixels, Monkeybone), noted director Chris Columbus (Home Alone, Nine Months), Paula DuPré Pesmen (The Cove, Mrs. Doubtfire), Warren Zide (Final Destination 5, American Pie), Dick Vane (The Phantom, Harry and the Hendersons), and Mark Radcliffe (The Help, Home Alone).
The makeup effects for the film were provided by Louis Lazzara (Be Cool, Face/Off, Friday the 13th Part V, American Ninja II, Teen Wolf Too), Sheila Evers (Family Matters, Good Burger), Jeff Dawn (Deep Blue Sea, Be Cool), Greg Cannom (Van Helsing, Son Of The Mask, Space Truckers, Thinner, Highlander II, Captain America, Dr. Alien, Titanic), and Keith VanderLaan (Space Truckers, Van Helsing, Son of the Mask).
The special effects work on Jingle All The Way was in part done by William Aldridge (Halloween III, Class of 1999, Demolition Man, The Fifth Element), Jon G. Belyeu (Halloween III, Tango & Cash, The Dead Zone, The Goonies), Chris Burton (Interstellar, Lethal Weapon 3, Lethal Weapon 2), and Jay Bartus (Dark Angel, Action Jackson),
The visual effects unit for Jingle All The Way included Todd Boyce (Stealth, Hollow Man), Rhonda Gunner (Swordfish, Timecop), Richard E. Hollander (Daredevil, Timecop, Face/Off), Gregory L. McMurry (Predator 2, Con Air, The Core), Glenn Neufeld (The Core, Paycheck), Derek Spears (Daredevil, RIPD, Face/Off), Rich Thorne (Monkeybone, Evolver).
The musical score for Jingle All The Way was composed by David Newman, who also provided music for movies like The Spirit, Death To Smoochy, Little Monsters, War of the Roses, Heathers, Critters, and Throw Momma From The Train.
The cast of Jingle All The Way includes Arnold Schwarzenegger (Hercules in New York, The Running Man, The Terminator, Kindergarten Cop, Junior, Commando, Predator), Sinbad (Houseguest), Jim Belushi (Taking Care Of Business, Abraxas, The Principal, Red Heat, Mr. Destiny), Phil Hartman (Saturday Night Live, Small Soldiers), Jake Lloyd (Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace), and Rita Wilson (Auto Focus, Mixed Nuts).
The plot of Jingle All The Way is summarized on IMDb as follows:
A father needs to get a Turbo Man action figure for his son just before Christmas. Unfortunately, every store is sold out of Turbo Man figures, and he must travel all over town and compete with everybody else to find a Turbo Man figure.
A sequel, Jingle All The Way 2, was released straight-to-video in December of 2014, and starred notorious blue-collar comedian Larry The Cable Guy.
A lawsuit and subsequent court battle was fought over the screenplay of Jingle All The Way, which was claimed to have been plagiarized from a previously submitted work called Could This Be Christmas?, which was similarly inspired by the public frenzy over Cabbage Patch Kids dolls in 1983.
Jingle All The Way had surprisingly limited merchandising tie-ins thanks to the rushed production schedule, though there was a run of 13.5 inch Turbo-Man action figures the coincided with the movie’s release.
The production budget for Jingle All The Way was estimated at $60 million, on which it grossed just under $130 million in its lifetime global theatrical release. However, in spite of the movie’s profitability, the reception wasn’t particularly positive: currently, it holds an IMDb user rating of 5.4, alongside Rotten Tomatoes aggregate scores of 17% from critics and 38% from audiences.
First off, Arnold Schwarzenegger is totally out of his element and miscast in the lead role of Jingle All The Way. His character seems to be written for an average every-man, which he just isn’t. Arnold is capable of pulling off a fair number of things on screen, but being an average Joe is not one of them. He is more believable as the super hero TurboMan than he is as a suburban dad and small businessman, which undermines a lot of what the movie is supposed to portray.
Jake Lloyd, the child actor who is most infamous for his role as Anakin Skywalker in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, is featured prominently in Jingle All The Way, and he is nothing short of abysmal. His deliveries are astoundingly terrible, even by child actor standards. On the flip side, both Phil Hartman and Sinbad are entertaining in their smaller roles as Schwarzenegger’s foils, but neither get enough time to do a whole lot.
Overall, Jingle All The Way is far from an unwatchable movie. The acting and the effects are certainly lacking, and it never quite delivers on its somewhat interesting premise. That said, it is an easy watch that has some entertaining moments, and is harmless as a cheesy holiday feature. It also has bonus points for being fantastic nostalgia fodder for many people nowadays, which is enough of a justification to revisit it in my book.
You don’t have to dig too deep to find other thoughts on Jingle All The Way. Personally, I recommend checking out the We Hate Movies podcast episode on the movie (as well as their follow-up on Jingle All The Way 2) and the spotlight done by The Nostalgia Critic.