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Video Review: Jingle All the Way (1996)

September 27, 2011
  • Dir. Brian Levant
  • Released by 20th Century Fox
  • Written by Randy Kornfield and Chris Columbus
  • Rating **
Original Laserdicks Review:
When I mentioned to Klaymore Kutlass the existence of a Christmas film co-starring Sinbad, he immediately asked me how he had missed out on that particular Ray Harryhausen film. Unfortunately, I had to inform him that I was actually referring to comedian David Adkins, not the famous fictional sailor. My Bargain Reviews co-host quickly lost interest and returned to watching some Doug McClure movie.
Jingle All the Way is one of the many Arnold Schwarzenegger films reviewed on Laserdicks Reviews, but, as the video indicates, I did not bother forming an opinion on the film at the time. I disregarded it as yet another empty-headed 90s family film, and considering my lukewarm reaction to Kindergarten Cop, I had little hope in its potential to convince me otherwise.
For the most part, I was correct. This film is a weaker effort than Kindergarten Cop, which at least had Ivan Reitman behind the camera. This film’s director, Brian Levant, also directed such weak family films as The Flintstones and its sequel, the film version of Leave It to Beaver, and the Ice Cube vehicle Are We There Yet? To his credit, he also directed Beethoven, which was not half-bad. Jingle All the Way, however, is not Beethoven.
Jake Lloyd plays Arnie’s son. Lloyd wants a Turbo Man action figure for Christmas. Arnie waits too late to get the toy and thus has to face the wrath of last-minute shoppers. Hilarity ensues, supposedly. Other than serving a middle finger to the Ayn Rand worldview, though, the movie settles on standard family values for its thematic content. Yawn.
Sinbad plays the rival father fighting for the toy, and he is okay, if unremarkable. The same rule applies for every actor in the film except for Phil Hartman, who serves as the exception implied above. He single-handedly makes the film watchable, which is a rather remarkable achievement considering that he is such a minor character. As such, I would recommend this film only to people who enjoy Hartman enough to sit through a generally dull family comedy to reach his bits.
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From → Film Criticism

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