Somehow I get the feeling that everyone has at least one big Christmas movie that everyone seems to talk about that they managed to miss. I suppose in the grand scheme of things, 'Jingle All the Way' is the one people seem the most shocked by. I would have to say that's mostly because it's about Schwarzenegger taking on the holiday rush. It ought to be good fun, just like 'Kindergarten Cop'. But is it? I mean, reviews are pretty terrible on this thing. But don't worry, I found myself giving it some lenience in the end. But more on that in a bit.
Our basic story involves matress salesman, Howard Langston (Schwarzenegger), your far too typical, too-busy-for-the-kid father figure. He manages to miss his son Anaki-- sorry, Jamie's (Jake Lloyd) karate graduation, but promises to make it up to him by doing something nice. Jamie asks for a 'Turbo Man' doll for Christmas. Howard forgets all about it until the last minute, and soon finds himself hitting up anywhere he can in order to get his hands on this Turbo Man doll - essentially the "Tickle-Me Elmo" of this movie.
Throughout the rush, Howard ends up rivaling with two people, consistently adding to his stress. The first, a post office worker named Myron (Sinbad), who is also after a Turbo Man doll for his own son. These two get into scuffles, and most of the comedy comes from Arnold's reactions as opposed to Sinbad's humor. Although I have to admit that he managed to get a few good lines in there, I kinda just found him obnoxious and annoying. But then we have the real villain of the film.
So help me God, I loved to hate this dink of a neighbor Howard has named Ted (Phil Hartman). He is your divorce, neighborhood handyman, who all the single ladies seem to love for... God knows what reason. I guess because he's helpful, but he's such a wiener at the same time. It doesn't help that he's rich, spoils his family, brags about it, and worst of all, has feelings towards Howard's wife, Liz (Rita Wilson), that he acts on. He's just one of those interfering assholes you wanna pop in the face - and for that, I completely commend Hartman on his performance. He pulls off "slimeball" incredibly well. And nothing in this movie is quite as good as the now famous "cookie" scene. So, honestly, I'd be lying if I said the movie didn't make me laugh at how ridiculous it all got.
The funniest thing about that is, for as ridiculous as things got, so much of what went on throughout the movie is all too real. For example, a scene depicting a cheaply made Spanish Turbo Man doll, being sold on the black market - totally a real deal when it comes to the toy of the year. I think nowadays we call it Kijiji, but this was 1996. Then, of course, the madness and even violence of the rush, which we've seen in all too many YouTube videos about Black Friday sales. It might sound weird to say about a movie that's so recognizably bad, but that kinda makes it timeless. That mad Christmas rush will always be a thing, as long as Malls and chains remain open and don't go the way of the Internet (which may actually be an inevitability).
So, the movie is a bit dated by today's standards, sure, but there's a certain something about this movie that I can't quite put my finger on. It's not quite in the realm of "so bad it's good", but it's still pretty ridiculous in parts, with so much of it actually giving me a genuine chuckle. Arnold getting sprayed in the eyes and reacting is one of the funniest Arnold moments I never knew about. So, it's strange, but I have no idea how I feel about this movie. A part of me hates it for how bad it is, overall. But a part of me loves it for how it portrayed things, and of course, Arnoldisms. I'll just have to chalk it up to "guilty pleasure".