Saturday, November 26, 2016

Christmas Movie Marathon Day 1

           I love Thanksgiving. I acknowledge that that is a strange way to open a blog post about a Christmas movie marathon but bear with me. Every year it seems as though Thanksgiving is being given less and less attention and getting further crushed between the commercial blitz of Halloween and Christmas. My response to this is to push back as hard as I can to keep Thanksgiving alive for me. However, this has an unintended consequence. I am frequently not feeling the Christmas spirit at all until a day or two before the main event. As such, I am forced to try to catch up by cramming in as many holiday festivities as possible in to too short a span of time. Unsurprisingly, this doesn't work very well. This year I am trying something different. For each of the thirty days between Thanksgiving and Christmas, I will be watching a different Christmas movie or television special. I have compiled the list of features ahead of time and will draw one, at random, from my Christmas stocking everyday to determine what gets watched. Assuming you are still with me through that convoluted intro, thank you. Now let's find out the first pick.

Jingle All the Way (1996)

           I'm actually pretty pumped for this pick. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not under any illusions about this actually being a good movie. However, it is one that has not been overplayed in my life. I haven't actually watched it since I saw it in theaters in 1996, and even then I was there more for the Star Wars Trilogy: Special Edition trailer that preceded it than I was for the actual movie. I'll be interested to see if it is as cheesy as I remember or if it has developed a quaint charm.


           Arnold Schwarzenegger plays Howard Langston, a father largely absent from the life of his son, Jamie (played by Jake Lloyd), due to focusing too much on work. After missing Jamie's karate class, Howard promises him that he will make sure Santa gets him a Turbo-Man action figure for Christmas. Unbeknownst to Howard, Turbo-Man is the hot ticket holiday item of the year and, as it is already Christmas Eve it will be almost impossible to find. The quest for Turbo-Man brings him in to conflict with fellow desperate dad, Myron Larabee (played by Sinbad). Madcap action ensues and Howard fails to get Turbo-Man multiple times. Meanwhile, back at Howard's house his next door neighbor, Ted (played by Phil Hartman) is trying to make moves on Howard's wife in his continued absence. The multiple plot threads culminate at the Wintertainment Parade. Through mistaken identity, Howard ends up dressed at Turbo-Man in the parade and is able to give Jaime a limited edition Turbo-Man figure. Myron will have none of this and steals the costume of Turbo-Man's arch-nemesis, Dementor. They battle and eventually Myron is defeated and Howard saves Jamie from what would have been a fatal fall. After Howard reveals that he is under the Turbo-Man helmet, Ted flees the parade fearful of Howard and Jaime gives Myron the limited edition Turbo-Man as he now has the real thing at home.

Final Thoughts

           Overall, this film was fairly enjoyable. Most of the jokes fall flat, but there are a few here and there that are capable of bringing a smile to ones face. Also, assuming you are of the right age and nostalgically inclined, there is fun to be had simply in the shots of mid-nineties toy aisles. There is also a very early appearance of Chris Parnell in a bit part which is fun to see. And, as a lifelong Minnesotan, it is neat to see Twin Cities locations as they existed in early 1995 captured forever. As an aside, the reduced amount of snow is an obvious tell that it was filmed in the spring and not in the season it purports to be. However, there are parts that seem off putting in our modern world. Jokes about explosives in the mail are probably less funny in a world struggling to deal with terrorism than they were in the long end of history victory lap of the nineties. Further, the special effects in the climax have not aged particularly well, but that is to be expected. Wrapping up, this wouldn't have been my first choice for a holiday film, but compared to some of the ones coming up later it is more earnest and therefore an okay one to start on. If nothing else it has reminded me that I should get off my ass and get my Christmas shopping done sooner rather than later. One down, twenty-nine to go.

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