It started innocently enough. We sacked off Sky Movies after a couple of months, the way most people tend to. But, for some reason, when we phoned to cancel, they let us keep the even numbered channels free of charge. Trade secret: they don’t show any of the good films on the even numbered channels. What they do show are a great many Christmas films, on repeat, all year around. And so began my love affair with Jingle All The Way.
Following in the footsteps of Bruce Willis and Mel Gibson, Arnold Schwarzenegger swaps action movies for good old fashioned Christmas spirit. There’s something oddly refreshing about seeing The Terminator throwing his significant frame into normal, everyday things, like operating a VDU mattress ordering database, and arguing with his missus. The film is set on Christmas Eve, and boasts a stellar bell-heavy soundtrack. Not only is it festive as fuck, it showcases Schwarzenegger in all his glory. Arnie on a climbing frame, Arnie taking a field sobriety test, Arnie running through the streets chanting ‘Dasher; Dancer; Prancer; Vixen; Comet; Cupid…’, Arnie wearing intense amounts of lycra.
Inspired by the real life high demand toy hunts of Christmases past, Jingle all the Way tells the tale of the fist fights and general screaming involved in trying to track down the much sought after TurboMan action figure. I experienced this struggle first hand, in December 1993, when my parents attempted to procure a Talkboy (the variable speed cassette player which originated in Home Alone 2: Lost in New York) for my little brother. He ended up with two. Which proves the competition for toys was not so intense in the East Midlands. Either that, or my dad is secretly Arnie.
Featuring the usual festive check list of dead beat dad, department store shenanigans, someone nailing fairy lights to the roof of a house, and a reindeer being punched in the face. Seriously. We follow Howard (Arnie) and a corrupt postal worker (Sinbad) as they attempt to partake in a little last minute holiday panic buying. Sinbad, a noted stand-up comedian, improvised the majority of his lines in the film. Apparently, Schwarzenegger also ‘improvised many of his responses in his conversations with Sinbad’s character’. Bless.
The action culminates at the ‘Wintertainment parade’, where Howard, still having been unable to buy one of the bloody dolls, stumbles his way into a TurboMan costume, and onto the main float. His turn as a live version of the action figure is so authentic that, later, he conducts a full five minute conversation with his wife and son without either of them realising who he is. That small strip of yellow plastic (pictured above) manages to conceal not only his eyebrows, but his thick and distinctive Austrian accent. Clearly he really has been spending too much time in the office.
Supporting cast includes Rita Wilson (Mrs Tom Hanks) in the role of long-suffering wife of a mattress salesman, the late Phil Hartman (Troy McClure) as the sleazy neighbour, and Jake Lloyd (young Anakin Skywalker) as the spoilt kid who couldn’t just be satisfied with a skateboard. Plus a random but always welcome cameo from Jim Belushi. Oh, and did I mention Arnie punches a reindeer in the face? Happy Holidays.
Read the 12 Days of Christmas Films series, or watch Jingle All The Way on Sky Movies almost every day from now until Christmas.