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Brian Levant
Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sinbad, Phil Hartman, Rita Wilson, Robert Conrad, Martin Mull, Jake Lloyd, James Belushi
Writing Credits:
Randy Kornfield

Two Dads, One Toy, No Prisoners.

A father needs to get a Turbo Man action figure for his son just before Christmas. Unfotunately, 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.

Box Office:
$60 million.
Opening Weekend
$12.112 million on 2401 screens.
Domestic Gross
$60.573 million.

Rated PG

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 93 min. (Extended Version)
89 min. (Theatrical Cut)
Price: $29.99
Release Date: 12/2/2008

• Both Theatrical and Extended Versions of the Film
• Extended and Deleted Scenes
• “The Making of a Hero” Featurette
• “Super Kids” Featurette
• “Turbo Man: Behind the Mask” Featurette
• Previews


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


Jingle All The Way [Blu-Ray] (1996)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (October 19, 2015)

In 1996’s Jingle All the Way, Arnold Schwarzenegger attempted to make himself lovable. He’d taken steps in that direction with prior comedies like Twins and Kindergarten Cop, but Jingle actually tried to cast the Austrian beefcake as an ordinary dad.

Did it work? Yes and no. The movie took in $60 million, a figure that kept it from “flop” territory. However, that total seemed pretty mediocre for a big-budget holiday release from a major star, so Jingle fell in that nebulous territory between hit and bomb.

Which is probably where it belonged. Jingle could have been worse, but it also could have been a much more clever and insightful examination of the stress that can accompany the holidays.

Workaholic Howard Langston (Schwarzenegger) never seems to have enough time for his young son Jamie (Jake Lloyd) despite pleas from wife Liz (Rita Wilson). When Howard misses a ceremony at which Jamie gets his karate purple belt, he promises the boy he’ll do anything to make it up to him. Jamie begs for a Turbo Man action figure as a Christmas present, and Howard swears he’ll deliver the goods.

This shouldn’t be a problem since Liz told him to pick up one weeks earlier. Predictably, however, Howard forgot to do so, which leaves him without the toy on the day before Christmas. Howard figures it’ll be no problem to grab one, but Turbo Man is the hottest toy of the year, which makes it virtually impossible for him to find.

During his hunt, Howard meets disgruntled postal employee Myron Larabee (Sinbad), another busy dad who didn’t get his shopping done earlier. Myron needs a Turbo Man for his own son, which sets up the pair as rivals. Eventually Myron offers a truce to make the pair partners, but Howard prefers to go it alone. This bothers Myron and makes sure they’ll go against each other the rest of the movie, though the focus consistently remains on Howard’s travails.

I can still remember the near-riots that accompanied parental searches for Cabbage Patch Kids back in the early Eighties, and other toys like Tickle Me Elmo inspired similar frenzies. This took Jingle into territory ripe for comedy, but the film largely fails to fulfill its potential.

That’s partly because it can’t quite decide its focus. On one hand, Jingle engages in a lot of broad slapstick connected to holiday themes. We see many battles among shoppers over the action figure, and we even get a massive battle that takes place in a warehouse filled with faux Santas. Half the movie acts like a huge cartoon.

On the other hand, Jingle also wants to connect with the usual holiday sentiment. It’s rare to find a Christmas movie without various attempts at touching, emotional elements, and Howard’s strained relationship with young Jamie prompts those. It’s totally obvious where this will go, as everyone should expect a sappy conclusion that makes everything happy and joyful among the family.

At its heart, Jingle presents a rather cynical view of parental responsibilities. Clearly Howard’s neglected his family for quite some time, but we’re meant to believe that if he just tosses a toy his boy’s way, he’ll prove himself as a caring father.

Granted, I see that the toy acts as a symbol; it’s Howard’s last chance to prove that he can follow through on his promises. But still, it seems sad that all his transgressions will become forgiven just because he delivers a crummy action figure.

Maybe it’s too much to expect that a light holiday comedy will engage in greater depth than that, though the classic A Christmas Story manages to do so. The relationship between that flick’s Ralphie and his Old Man seems vastly more realistic than the interactions between Howard and Jamie. That’s partially because the BB gun for which Ralphie lusts isn’t the whole point of the flick; despite the Old Man’s crustiness, we know he cares for his kids with or without a present. Howard doesn’t enjoy such a benefit of the doubt, which makes his necessary gift a tacky gesture.

This turns Jingle into an exploration of the inevitable with a very predictable storyline. It goes out of its way to put Howard in many wacky circumstances, all so he can eventually redeem himself as a good dad. Most of this exists as little more that an excuse for plenty of wild shenanigans, and the film awkwardly blends broad comedy and mushy sentiment.

I’m also not sure who thought it’d be a good idea to cast Schwarzenegger as an average suburban father. On what planet does he make sense in this role? At least the presence of Sinbad ensures that he’s not the worst actor in the cast. The has-been comedian delivers such an over-the-top performance that he makes Schwarzenegger look like a study in realism. Neither shows much of a comedic connection, though they don’t get much of a chance to do so; the film only sporadically uses Myron as a comedic foil, so he doesn’t pop up very frequently.

Occasionally, Jingle All the Way manages some minor humor, such as the scene with the seedy Santas. It also enjoys a pretty good supporting cast with talents like Phil Hartman and Rita Wilson in tow. Nonetheless, it focuses its energy on cheap humor and easy sentiment, which makes it both sappy and unfunny much of the time. Add to that an idiotic, unrealistic ending and Jingle doesn’t offer much entertainment.

End credits alert: stick it out through the final title crawl for a cute concluding sequence. (Note that the extended version of the film also includes this sequence; however, it occurs before the credits instead of after them.)

The Disc Grades: Picture B-/ Audio B-/ Bonus C-

Jingle All the Way appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. While the picture generally seemed good, a few nagging issues caused it to fall short of greatness.

Sharpness offered a slightly mixed bag. Most of the movie came across as accurate and distinctive, but some exceptions occurred. At times, the film seemed mildly ill-defined, particularly in wide shots. The softness didn’t appear heavy, but it created some minor distractions. I discerned no moiré effects or jagged edges, but light edge enhancement popped up throughout the film. Print flaws were absent.

Colors seemed acceptable. The era’s film stocks could be a bit flat, and that came over here, but the tones were mostly pretty good. Black levels were adequately deep and rich, and shadow detail was appropriately clear but not excessively opaque. No significant problems marred Jingle, but enough small concerns popped up to knock my grade down to a “B-”.

Comedies don’t usually provide much in the audio department, and the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Jingle All the Way fell into line with expectations. The soundfield seemed oriented toward the front, but it seemed to be fairly engaging nonetheless. The forward channels presented a reasonably clean and engaging atmosphere, as the audio created a believable sound space.

The music showed good stereo presence, and elements moved smoothly across the forward spectrum as they blended together neatly. Surround usage appeared fairly minor. For the most part, the rear speakers provided little more than reinforcement of the forward image. A few shots used the surrounds more actively, like during the opening episode of Turbo Man and the fight at the end, but those occasions occurred infrequently.

Audio quality appeared fine. Speech remained natural and concise, with no signs of edginess or problems connected to intelligibility. Music showed nice range and clarity, and the bass response demonstrated a reasonably solid punch, though some disappointments occurred; for example, during the Santa fight, the big Santa’s foreboding footsteps lacked much presence. Nothing about the soundtrack stood out as exceptional, but the mix seemed decent for this sort of flick.

How did the Blu-ray compare to the prior DVD from 2007? Audio added a little pep, while visuals seemed cleaner and tighter. The movie’s era-related restrictions limited how much better the Blu-ray could be, but it still offered the superior experience.

Expect the Blu-ray to reproduce most of the DVD’s extras. The disc includes both the film’s theatrical version (1:29:31) and an extended edition (1:33:44) of Jingle.

If you want a list of the differences between the two cuts… look elsewhere. I only saw the theatrical cut once and that was years ago, so I couldn’t determine changes other than the addition of a scene with Yeardley Smith as a woman who bilks Howard for a Booster doll. I can say that the longer cut works no better or worse than the theatrical version. Both have the same pros and cons, so don’t expect the added material to make a difference.

If you want to see the added material on its own, go to Extended/Deleted Scenes. This 20-minute, 36-second compilation features “Howard Buying Doll from Woman on Street” (5:18), “Howard and Mall Santa in Car/Mall Santa Breaks into Song/Howard and Mall Santas Fight” (9:12), “Howard and Myron in Diner” (3:45) and “Howard Riding Home with Tow-Truck Driver” (2:22).

Since the Extended Cut of Jingle runs only four minutes longer than the Theatrical Version, that tells you that most of the deleted/extended scenes collection gives us material from the latter. The scenes offer some mild moments of interest but never become especially memorable.

Three featurettes follow. The Making of a Hero goes for 15 minutes, 29 seconds and includes info from director Brian Levant, Turbo Man designer/supervisor Tim Flattery, producer Michael Barnathan, and actors Arnold Schwarzenegger and Dan Riordan. “Hero” looks at the design of Turbo Man, the creation of the live-action costume, and shooting the superhero scenes. The show offers a surprisingly tight little look at the Turbo Man topics. It turns into a fun and informative view of those subjects.

Super Kids lasts eight minutes, 12 seconds and presents notes from kids of varying ages from four to 14. They tell us why they like superheroes and what powers they wish they possessed. It’s a pretty pointless piece.

Finally, Turbo Man: Behind the Mask fills eight minutes, 17 seconds. It offers a faux documentary that pretends there really was a Turbo Man series in the mid-1990s. It’s cute but not particularly interesting, especially since it wants us to believe Turbo Man really existed.

The disc ads for Alvin and the Chipmunks, Home Alone, Fantastic Four (2005), Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, Eragon and Night at the Museum. No trailer for Jingle appears here.

I suppose its creators hoped that Jingle All the Way would become a holiday classic. Instead, it turned into little more than a footnote on Arnold Schwarzenegger’s résumé. The movie presents the occasional laugh, but a muddled story and too much easy emotion drags it down to the level of impotent tripe. The Blu-ray brings us generally positive picture and audio along with minor supplements. Jingle isn’t an awful movie, but it’s mostly pretty weak.

To rate this film, visit the original review of JINGLE ALL THE WAY

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