Sunday, December 25, 2016


I put up a poll on a Facebook group I admin asking for movie suggestions, knowing I'd have to watch a truly awful movie this week for Trash Bin. The consensus was far and away Jingle All The Way. I came so close to disqualifying it because I had heard for so long that this movie was firmly planted in the "so bad its good" realm of cinema. I went into this movie expecting to moderately enjoy myself in a guilty pleasure sort of way.

This was so much worse than I ever imagined. I know my parents loved me because somehow, growing up, they never put me through watching this piece of garbage.

Let's start with the basic premise: Arnold Schwarzenegger is your typical overworked neglectful dad who is putting his career before his wife and son. In an effort to finally make his son happy, Arnold promises his wife and son that a Turbo Man doll, the hottest toy of the year, will be under the tree come Christmas morning. Christmas comes and Arnold must set out and find his son the figure, which has sold out in the entire Minnesota Twin Cities Metro Area. Hijinks ensue.

I'm going to refer to Arnold's character as Arnold throughout this review, since really? He's playing himself. I'm also going to refer to his son as Anakin because Jake Lloyd turns in a performance that makes me feel nostalgic for his far superior acting skills in Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace. I'll also be spoiling bits of this movie because, in order to really appreciate the ludicrousness of Jingle All The Way, you need to really dig deep. Trust me. If you’ve never seen it before then you are not missing out at all.

The acting in Jingle All The Way is truly atrocious. Arnold Schwarzenegger is not known for his ability to convey subtleties in his performances. However, he is quite often passable in his roles. Not so here. Every single line is either over-the-top or cringe-inducingly bland. Jake Lloyd somehow makes other performances by child actors look better as he spits out some of the worst moments I've seen from an adorable kid onscreen. Sinbad, who plays the closest thing this film has to a villain, hams up the role of "angry racist caricature" in a nightmarishly awful way. Everything about every performance just leaves you wincing at every turn.

Arnold is given a few moments of over-the-top action in which he tries to seem likable. However, whether he's fighting nunchuck-wielding, singing Santas or punching reindeer in the face (yes that is literally a moment in the film), everything about him just is depressingly forced. On the other hand, Arnold is also given a few moments to try to convey deep emotional connection with his wife or poor Anakin. Here, he demonstrates the human connection of a limp paper towel. I did not expect Oscar-caliber delivery from Schwarzenegger by any means. However, I also did not expect something that would make me so utterly uncomfortable. I kept thinking of Tommy Wiseau’s performance in The Room and debating whether or not I’d rather sit and listen to Wiseau’s whiny voice or Arnold’s whiny voice.

I'm also genuinely tired of watching movies where a parent is portrayed as awful for simple things like having to work late or missing family events due to traffic. If there is a world where parents always come home at 5pm and never are late to a sporting event or a show then I want to see that utopia. Life happens and, to be honest, Arnold's character arc in Jingle All The Way takes him from "work focused but caring dad" to "slightly less work focused but caring dad." The complete lack of emotional depth to this series of slapstick routines torpedoed any possible chance of me caring about what happened on screen.

It's possible that Jingle All The Way is so bad that it's good to some people. I've reviewed some truly awful movies before and have had great fun doing so (check out my review of Eragon for a good example of that). I've reviewed some bad moves that I ended up enjoying! This one simply was painfully awkward, mediocrely acted, and completely void of any compelling beats. I was so utterly bored by this ninety minute experience that it felt like three hours.

This Christmas, don't watch Jingle All The Way. There are so many better options out there. Watch a good movie today. Watch a good bad movie today. Embrace your holiday cheer and don't support this career misfire by the epitome of career misfires, Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Merry Christmas, everyone. Eat a cookie today in resentment against this awful film.


Rotten Tomatoes: 17%
IMDb: 5.5/10

Roger Ebert: 2.5/4


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