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Jingle All the Way

I managed to get through two decades of Christmas seasons without watching Arnold Schwarzenegger’s 1996 holiday film JINGLE ALL THE WAY. So why in the world did I watch it now? iTunes had a holiday movies button, I clicked on it and the rest is history.

I should have worked harder to keep my non-viewing streak going on this one.

I’m a sucker for Christmas movies of almost any kind, from favorites like “The Polar Express” to “Christmas Vacation” and “Elf” to lesser but enjoyable holiday movies like “Four Christmases”, there are those perennials that we come back to every season.

This one wont be on that repeat viewing list.

Arnold made plenty of great movies in this era, action was his strong suit but he often showed great comic timing in films like “True Lies”. Sufficed to say when it comes to full tilt comedy, Schwarzenegger was less gifted. It’s all giant expressions and over reactions in his portrayal of Howard, a workaholic Dad who’s late for every school play or judo tournament.

After letting down his son Jamie (Jake Lloyd, showing the same child thespian talents (?) he unraveled as a young Darth Vader in Lucas’s early Star Wars trilogy) yet again, he promises to make it up by getting the hottest toy on the planet on Christmas Eve.

Gee, do you think it’s sold out? Do you think maybe they’ll be montages of crazy shoppers battling each other in the aisles in search of the Turbo Man action figure?

Right now, think of every cliché that might happen in Arnie’s quest and I promise you they all happen here.

Sinbad is one-note, borderline disturbing and not great as a mailman on the same quest for his son. Phil Hartman brings the film’s only laughs as Howard’s next door neighbor hoping to move in on Howard’s wife, played by Rita Wilson. None of these characters act like any humans you ever met.

Throughout the film, Howard manages to light houses on fire, be part of a bombing at a radio station and commits at least a half dozen felonies, but we just move on to the next scene.

You see the heartwarming ending coming a mile away, except for Sinbad’s absurd antics. Harvey Korman and Larraine Newman are completely wasted in small roles. Robert Conrad has some fun as a cop who keeps popping up but never quite gets Howard.

Poor Arnold. He just looks uncomfortable, straining for every laugh. This might be the longest 90-minute film I’ve ever seen. WOOF, what a dog. We’ll file it away with “Fred Claus” as a once-is-more-than-enough Christmas movie. We’ll give it a lump of coal and a D.

Now let’s go watch “Polar Express” real quick to get back on track……HO HO HO!

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