It is a well-known fact that this is the last straight comedy that Arnold Schwarzenegger ever starred in (that is, unless you count End of Days! Ha ha... I kid...). There is a reason for this. Though it’s hardly the worst film he did in the 90’s (I’m saving that one for much, much later), Arnie must have been really putting the hard eggnog back when he signed onto this mess.
The film is a commercial for consumerism. Instead of doing what many of the good Holiday films have done in the past and focus on the element of friends and family and good will towards men, Jingle All the Way focuses on Anakin Skywalker really, really wanting a Turbo Man. So the disgraced California Governor (What are they drinking over there?) goes on a quest for the big toy of the year, traveling all over New York City and clashing with another last-minute shopper, a psychotic and desperate mailman named Myron (Sinbad).
Alas, there are countless races through stores and scenes of Arnold falling over displays, fighting ninja Santas and flying around NYC on a jet pack. This is one of the stupidest films ever made. Seriously. What’s even dumber is the climax of the film that doesn’t really resolve the plot at all, it just sort of ends with the kid happy because his dad rescued him while wearing a Turbo Man costume. What’s funny is, there could have been a positive family message here, but the film blows that in the end when the boy is not sorry he was angry at his father, no, he’s happy that his father is the “real turbo man,” so it goes back to the same crass consumerism that the film started with.
The acting in Jingle All the Way is just dreadful. We all know that Jake Lloyd is just terrible, so I'll spare his details but Schwarzenegger is just lost in this weak material. He grunts and mumbles his lines and emotes and mugs like a bad comic actor does, and his attempts at sincerity are so laughable that it almost seems as though he’s parodying himself. Sinbad tries, but he isn’t given much to do, and while this role actually seems right for him, he’s a little ridiculous. In the end, when Anakin Skywalker gives Myron the Turboman for his son we never really see, it’s meant to be a message of giving, but Sinbad’s character is such a punk through the entire film, that it’s impossible to feel any sort of empathy towards his plight and any satisfaction regarding his sudden victory.
This film was directed by Brian Levant, one of the worst directors working in Hollywood. His entire repertoire is filled with family films that are either epically terrible like Jingle All the Way or Problem Child 2, or maddeningly mediocre like Beethoven. Levant received a much-deserved Razzie nomination for this film and if this film didn’t come out the same year as Striptease, it would have probably been my pick for the worst movie of 1996.