November 22, 1996 in Seven

‘Jingle’ Jangle This Christmas Comedy Only Missing Humor, Originality And Acting Talent

Chris Hewitt St. Paul Pioneer Press
 

Perhaps the most hopeful thing to say about “Jingle All the Way” is that it is very, very short.

“Jingle” is one of those comedies that assumes there’s nothing funnier than a massive head injury or a kick in the crotch. As a hapless cop, Robert Conrad comes in for much of the bashing, but Arnold Schwarzenegger and the frenetic, spitty Sinbad also sustain hematomas as fathers trying to purchase the year’s most popular toy - a Turbo Man action figure - on Christmas Eve.

No actor in all of recorded movie history is less qualified to play “real” than Schwarzenegger. “Jingle” asks us to believe he’s just an average Joe, but, with that voice and that face and those bulges, we cannot forget that this is Arnold Schwarzenegger pretending he is at one with the rest of us schmucks. There’s something patronizing about a man who makes $50 million a year acting like he knows how the rest of us feel. Plus, he isn’t funny.

He’s fine in movies in which the comedy comes from seeing him with kindergarteners or schmoozing with Danny De Vito, but he does not have the acting chops to create a character who is inherently funny.

He also does not have the script. As a renegade Santa, Jim Belushi actually pauses for laughs, but he needn’t bother - “Jingle” is 100 percent wit-free. I know some people like the Cavalcade of Pratfalls stuff - I also hated the mauling of the crooks in “Home Alone” and that movie was a smash - but beating the crap out of comic villains has become a cheap substitute for writing stories.

Near the end, there’s a sweet moment that has something to do with the Christmas spirit, but the only allusion to the reason for the season is when a life-sized wise man statue gets his head blown off.

Instead, “Jingle” fuels the holiday commercial machine by spotlighting Turbo Man, now available in a Wal Mart near you. Ironically, the movie is about a toy so popular that it’s unobtainable, but I have a feeling there are going to be lots of Turbo Men marked down for post-holiday sales.

MEMO: These 2 sidebars appeared with the story:

1. “Jingle All The Way” Locations: Lincoln Heights, Newport, Coeur d’Alene Cinemas Credits: Directed by Brian Levant, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sinbad Running time: 1:23 Rating: PG

2. ANOTHER VIEW Here’s another critic’s view of “Jingle All the Way:” Rick Holter/Dallas Morning News: “Jingle All the Way” aims to poke fun at what’s gone wrong with Christmas. Instead, it pokes along as a case study of what’s gone wrong with Hollywood. Bloated, wooden, cynical, miscast and not very funny, this high-concept, low-return comedy shatters whatever aura of invincibility still surrounds megastar Arnold Schwarzenegger. Call it “Crass Action Hero.” … No collection of second-tier co-stars could make this leading man look like a comic genius. And when it comes to the human touch, the ex-Terminator finishes a balky third behind Bugs Bunny and Cruella De Vil.

These 2 sidebars appeared with the story:

1. “Jingle All The Way” Locations: Lincoln Heights, Newport, Coeur d’Alene Cinemas Credits: Directed by Brian Levant, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sinbad Running time: 1:23 Rating: PG

2. ANOTHER VIEW Here’s another critic’s view of “Jingle All the Way:” Rick Holter/Dallas Morning News: “Jingle All the Way” aims to poke fun at what’s gone wrong with Christmas. Instead, it pokes along as a case study of what’s gone wrong with Hollywood. Bloated, wooden, cynical, miscast and not very funny, this high-concept, low-return comedy shatters whatever aura of invincibility still surrounds megastar Arnold Schwarzenegger. Call it “Crass Action Hero.” … No collection of second-tier co-stars could make this leading man look like a comic genius. And when it comes to the human touch, the ex-Terminator finishes a balky third behind Bugs Bunny and Cruella De Vil.

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