There comes a time in the life of every macho action movie star where they have to make a movie for the kids. Not only is it fun to watch a burly guy get humbled by everyday situations, but these scenarios effectively print money. Moviegoers enjoy watching muscle-bound protagonists deal with ridiculous and family-friendly scenarios as much as, if not more than, watching them suplex space terrorists.
The tradition of blockbuster beefcakes showing their G-rated sides started in the ‘90s, like so many delightfully awful things, with the perennial Kindergarten Cop. Genuinely funny though this film was, its successors were little more than cash-grabs. Thanks to Arnold showing his sensitive side, we’re stuck with TBS re-runs of Suburban Commando, The Pacifier, Tooth Fairy, and worse. Terrible as those films are, they pale in comparison to Jingle All the Way.
As our way of celebrating the holidays here at The Progressive Cinema Scorecard, we’re subjecting the nanobots to the hot cup of yuletide sludge that is Jingle All the Way. How long can their tiny robot stomachs contain the ham-fisted cautions against rampant commercialism before they ho-ho-ho all over this hackneyed portrayal of what parents subject themselves to year after year for their ungrateful children? Let’s find out!
- For featuring Harvey Korman being held hostage by Bull from Night Court, Turbo Man is the best kids’ show you never saw. = +4pts
- Why, if it isn’t adolescent Darth Vader dancing around like his Ritalin wore off! Just looking at him makes the nanobots sad. = -10pts
- Arnold Schwarzenegger is such a shark of a salesman that he can’t stop selling mattresses to pinch his secretary’s ass at the Christmas party. = -5pts
- Missing Annie Skywalker’s karate class. = +6pts
- Phil Hartman’s portrayal of Ted, the passive-aggressive, housewife-fucking lothario. = +7pts
- Arnold’s Bruce Lee impersonation. = +12pts
- Annie is reassured that he will not be a loser. = -3pts (Too late.)
- Arnold saying, “It’s turbo time!” = +8pts
- Despite the movie making it clear that Arnold is too busy with his job to complete even the most basic of tasks, his wife has no foresight to ensuring that he purchases a Turbo Man action figure for their spazzy son. = -11pts
- Sinbad’s insane mailman is made complete when, in a paroxysm of rage, he punctuates his rant by strangling a nearby woman. = +5pts
- Dr. Spaceman’s cameo appearance as the complete dick working at the Hollywood equivalent of KB Toys. = -3pts
- Arnold reveals his sociopathic side by nearly breaking Sinbad’s neck after tripping him with an RC car. = -6pts
- eBay was founded in 1995. This movie came out in 1996. The nanobots are keening in misery. = -16pts
- Arnold’s reaction to Phil Hartman getting all up in his cookies has become an Internet sensation. = +7pts
- Whosever idea it was to have a Turbo Man doll raffle with bouncy balls as tickets has most likely been trampled to death under the snowboots of rampaging parents. = -6pts
- Being labeled a pervert after chasing a child of indeterminate gender through a playplace does not deter Arnold from his quest to get his hands on a Turbo Man doll. = +5pts (That’s dedication!)
- Arnold goes Oldboy on a warehouse full of black market Santas. = +5pts
- The Big Show punches Mini-Me from one end of the room to the other. = +7pts
- It’s all fun and games until the fuzz busts Santa’s thieves’ guild. = -4pts
- We’re pretty sure that “swap recipes ” is suburban sex lingo for “dirty anal.” = -6pts
- Arnold yelling at future Darth Vader for being a twerp. = +4pts
- After failing to weaponize Christmas cards and holiday packages, Sinbad brandishes a mail-bomb to menace a ponytail-sporting Martin Mull. = -9pts
- Sinbad uses his sickle cell anemia as a reason not to get punched in the face by Arnold Schwarzeneger. We’ll remember that the next time we’re in California. = +4pts
- A police officer’s near-death experience with an explosive package is played for laughs. = -3pts
- While regretting the decision to steal Phil Hartman’s kid’s Turbo Man, Arnold sets a deranged reindeer loose in the house and engulfs a plastic Balthazar in flames. = -16pts
- Instead of going to the Wintertainment Parade with his family, Arnold celebrates a traditional Austrian Christmas by punching out a reindeer and then getting it drunk. = +7pts
- Booger from Revenge of the Nerds dressing up as a pink tiger in a golden Speedo. = -12pts
- With Arnold outfitted as Turbo Man and Sinbad as his arch-nemesis Dementor, the two grown men battle it out Power Rangers style on a parade float. = -4pts
- Booger is thrown from the parade float and immediately attacked by a wild pack of children. Given that he’s never seen again, it’s unlikely he survived. = +4pts
- Arnold Boba Fetts through the air and ruins a black family’s dinner by crashing through their window. We’re pretty sure that this is a sloppy-ass metaphor of some sort, but the nanobots are under too much duress to decipher it. = -6pts
- When your own wife and child cannot see through your disguise or recognize your identity by your ludicrous accent, it’s time to take a vacation from selling mattresses. = -4pts
- Annie Skywalker single-handedly undoes capitalism by idiotically giving his limited-edition Turbo Man doll to an arrested Sinbad immediately after the insane mailman placed him in mortal danger over it. = -17pts
- Sinbad is no longer under arrest and Arnold’s family loves him again because of what? What in the actual fuck was the point of this movie, that Christmas sucks and you should give away your prized possessions to the undeserving? Screw whatever ham-fisted message this movie tried to convey. Christmas is great and so are personal belongings. Long live commercialism!= -30pts
- The Brian Setzer Orchestra’s terrible rendition of "Jingle Bells." = -3pts
- That the filmmakers included the possibility for a sequel as a stinger means that Jingle All the Way 2: I’m Dreaming of a Turbo Christmas may befoul the box office (or Wal-Mart straight-to-video vat) in the future. = -8pts
Available on: Netflix streaming, TBS
Jingle All the Way can best be summed up as a middle finger to the Christmas season. Its attempts to appeal to parents with a message that will make them think, “Haha, I’ve done something like that for my kids before!” make it as entertaining as watching old news coverage of toy stores with Cabbage Patch Dolls shortages.
Without Arnold’s comical accent and Phil Hartman’s performance as a horny divorcee, the movie would have stagnated under the over-the-top acting and frenetic pacing. If not for the deluge of awful modern Christmas movies, this film would be among the worst. Thanks to the combined atrociousness of Santa Buddies, The Search for Santa Paws, and Santa Paws 2: The Santa Pups, Jingle All the Way barely scratches the surface of mediocre. One positive thing to say about this film is that it mortally wounded Sinbad’s acting career. May he rest in peace.
The Progressive Cinema Scorecard wishes you a Merry Christmas far away from this film. If you’re going to brave Jingle All the Way, either ironically or driven by morbid curiosity, be sure to slip this scorecard in your stocking.
Score Technician: T. J. Geise