Jingle All The Way has been a staple part of my Christmas since its release in 1996 and this year was no different, despite my placing it at number eight on Vulture Hound’s list of the Top 10 Worst Christmas Films this time last year. I still agree with everything I said but I will still continue to watch it every single year too.
Jingle All The Way focuses on the commerciality of Christmas, drawing inspiration from the high demand of toys such as Cabbage Patch Kids and Power Rangers action figures in the late eighties and early ninties and the crazy lengths shoppers would go to, often including violence, in order to get their hands on them before Christmas. The films producer Chris Columbus experienced a similar situation in 1995 when he attempted to get a Buzz Lightyear action figure from the film Toy Story, released that year. As a result, he rewrote the original script and it was accepted by 20th Century Fox. Columbus was always “attracted to the dark side of the happiest holiday of the year”, so wrote elements of the film as a satire of the commercialisation of Christmas.
In all honesty, its not the films story that keeps me coming back each year, rather its Arnold Schwarzenegger’s unique delivery of lines and his constant puns and one liners that just make the film hilarious, all though I am not entirely sure that its intentional.
The film sees Arnie play the roll of Howard Langston, a business-obsessed father who has routinely been absent from the majority of his sons most important events, including being there to watch him acheive his green belt in karate. Realising how terrible he has been he vows to get the toy his son so desperately wants, a “Turbo Man action figure with the arms and legs that move and the boomerang shooter and his rock ‘n’ roller jet pack and the realistic voice activator that says 5 different phrases including, ‘It’s Turbo time!’ Accessories sold separately. Batteries not included.”
The only problem is these dolls are the must-have item of the year and are now totally sold out and Howard hasn’t got one yet, despite his wife asking him to buy one months ago. The morning of Christmas Eve sees him heading out to try and purchase the elusive Turbo Man figure and thus chaos ensues.
On his adventures in retail Howard is often accompanied by loveable but slightly unhinged Myron Larabee, a postal worker and father also desperately trying to buy a Turbo Man doll for his son. Myron is desperate to not disappoint his son as he blames his father for his current failings, he never recieved the Johnny Seven O.M.A toy gun. I can definitely relate to this as I don’t think my dad has ever fully healed from the childhood memory of his uncle John from Canada coming to visit one Christmas and gifting his two older brothers with a Johnny Seven O.M.A each…my dad got, in his words, ‘a stupid glove puppet thing.’
Ultimately, the Howard sees the error of his way and vows to be a better father and husband and Myron finally gets his hands on a Turbo Man for his son and all is right in the world. We will just overlook the fact that Howard broke into his neighbours house, set it on fire, broke furniture, punched a reindeer in the face and then gave it beer to drink…