Jingle All the Way (1996)

Genres - Children's/Family, Comedy  |   Sub-Genres - Domestic Comedy, Family-Oriented Comedy, Holiday Film  |   Release Date - Nov 22, 1996 (USA)  |   Run Time - 94 min.  |   Countries - United States  |   MPAA Rating - PG
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Review by Karl Williams

A thoroughly enjoyable family comedy, this holiday film represents the high water mark of director Brian Levant's career, one marked by a specialization in light, intentionally fatuous comic fare. Arnold Schwarzenegger plays, as usual, a thinly veiled variation on himself, the "funny" version recognizable from Twins (1988), Kindergarten Cop (1990), and Junior (1994). The rest of the cast plays against the star's mountainous gravity, however, with delightful results; in particular, Phil Hartman has oodles of fun as an oily neighborhood lecher, mocking and lampooning his leading man's stoic demeanor and sheer physical size. As the film's mailman foil, stand-up comic Sinbad is not utilized very well by the script, which never seems quite sure if he's a villain or not. Performances and clear character motivations are beside the point, however, as the script does its job, delivering the gift of many memorably amusing moments. Among them: scenes in which the star is attacked by a rogue band of elves, another in which he's attacked by angry mothers at a mall, and yet another in which he shudders to imagine his son growing up to be a boozing postal worker. There's also some fun with a rented reindeer and Schwarzenegger in a superhero costume, which is probably where he belongs. It's certainly not witty enough for the stage, but Jingle All the Way is a fun seasonal treat that will probably be popping up on cable TV as a December programming staple, one in which weary parental shoppers will grimace and guffaw to recognize themselves.