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Fox Home Entertainment presents
Howard Langston: I can't let this happen. It's just a doll. It's just a stupid little plastic doll!
DVD ReviewChristmas comes but once a year and with it comes an onslaught of commercial advertising that, on occasion, causes a frenzy amongst present-buying parents when the "must-have" toy falls into short supply. Jingle All the Way is a well-intended effort at taking this premise and turning it into a family comedy loaded with slapstick comedy and clowning word play.
Young Jamie (Jake Lloyd) watches the TV show "Turbo Man" every day while his dad, Howard Langston (Arnold Schwarzenegger), indulges himself in work and neglects the needs of his child and wife, Liz (Rita Wilson). After breaking his promise to attend Jamie's karate class, Howard amends the father-son bond by promising Jamie that he'll get the upcoming Turbo Man action figure for Jamie. The following morning, which just happens to be Christmas Eve Day, Howard leaves early to buy the toy and plans to get back home in time for the massive holiday parade.
While waiting in line for the toy store to open, Howard meets Myron Larabee (Sinbad), a postal employee on the verge of a breakdown. The two men rush into the store only to find out that Turbo Man is no longer in stock, which prompts the rest of the store's patrons to laugh at them for failing to realize the phenomenon that is Turbo Man. Thus begins Howard's odyssey as he competes against Myron and the odds to find that last Turbo Man toy, which will lead him through numerous obstacles that are designed to show off different landmarks in Minnesota. Some of the set pieces work, while others fail to deliver laughs.
The screenplay, written by Randy Kornfield, is as predictable as you'd expect—the workaholic father learns during the course of a fateful day that his family is more important than his job and any toy,—yet it also has some really amusing scenes sprinkled throughout. James Belushi and Danny Woodburn turn in hilarious cameos as a crooked mall Santa and elf who offer Howard a black market Turbo Man. Adults should also find Robert Conrad's performance as a police officer constantly causing trouble for Howard to be funny as well. However, the script as a whole does not have enough snappy humor to keep adults interested, which thus means it primarily becomes a spectacle for the kids to enjoy.
Most likely smaller children will like Jingle All the Way because it has a lot of slapstick humor with Arnold and Sinbad falling on their backs and getting hurt. It even has a big action sequence at the end in which Myron and Howard battle over the final Turbo Man doll during the big parade. Of course this action sequence is completely preposterous and it also raises a major question that presents a significant problem for the movie: is Myron supposed to be a good guy who has fallen on some hard times or is he a delusional, psychotic villain? Director Brian Levant and Sinbad never fully commit to playing Myron one way or another, which causes an inbalance throughout the movie. Moreover, a side plot with Howard's next door neighbor, Ted (Phil Hartman), adds nothing to the story.
Even with these flaws, however, the movie does have a kind of low-brow charm to it. Arnold Schwarzenegger is not much of an actor, but he has always done well with light comedies and his performance here is a pleasant, kid-friendly turn. Certainly Jingle All the Way is a far cry from holiday classics like It's a Wonderful Life and Miracle on 34th Street, but considering the limited amount of family fare out there today, it'll do.
Rating for Style: C+
Rating for Substance: C+
Image Transfer Review: Jingle All the Way is presented on this DVD with two transfers, the first being a 1.33:1 pan-and-scan and the other on the flip side of the disc, preserving the original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 in an anamorphic transfer. The widescreen transfer is to be preferred, though there may be some children still out there that don't like seeing black bars on their TV screen. Nonetheless, the transfer is clean and contains solid colors. Depth is not especially strong, nor is detail. Overall, it's an adequate presentation.
Image Transfer Grade: B-
Audio Transfer Review: The default audio option the English Dolby Stereo 2.0 mix, but the Dolby Digital 5.1 mix can be accessed either through the setup menu or by the DVD remote control. The 5.1 mix is slightly unbalanced, with certain portions of the movie being noticeably louder than others are. Music and some sound effects fill the surround speakers with other sound effects being spread across the front soundstage. Separation and directionality occur, though not as often as one would like. This is just an average sound mix. A French Dolby Stereo mix is also included.
Audio Transfer Grade: C+
Disc ExtrasStatic menu
Scene Access with 22 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish with remote access
Cast and Crew Biographies
1 Original Trailer(s)
Extras Review: Extras for this release are pretty scarce. There is the original theatrical trailer, presented in 1.33:1 pan and scan and Dolby Stereo surround. Following that are biographies of actors Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sinbad, and Phil Hartman. No significant information is included in the biographies, which means they wind up being nothing more than just well-worded filmographies.
Extras Grade: D-
Final CommentsJingle All the Way does not appear to be destined to become a classic holiday movie, but it has enough slapstick humor to satisfy younger viewers and there's something to be said for a movie that can take the quintessential action star and turn him into a comedic spectacle. The picture and sound transfers on this DVD are nothing extraordinary, but get the job done. The limited amount of extras, however, makes this a title more deserving of a rental than an actual purchase.
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