Not a John Hughes movie, but Jingle All the Way‘s got the Hughes boffo holiday formula down pat: smash-and-grab slapstick plus insults plus a ”heartwarming” family-values climax — all served up in bright, shiny TV-commercial color. Arnold Schwarzenegger plays an overworked, absentee dad hysterically combing the Twin Cities on Christmas Eve to find his son a Turbo Man action figure, the hottest gift sensation since the Cabbage Patch Kids. (Naturally, the doll has been sold out since Thanksgiving.) Arnold leaps, bounds, and crashes through the Mall of America. He fights off a rival dad (Sinbad, whose idea of being funny is grinning) and gets in a brawl with an army of con-men Santas (led by James Belushi). A ”satire” of frenzied consumerism that’s really a barely ironic assertion of it, Jingle All the Way makes you feel like you’re trapped at Kmart during a blue-light special. For all its garishness, though, the film is punchy and fast, and it has an engagingly preposterous cheeseball climax, with Schwarzenegger, in full Turbo Man regalia, zooming through the skies like a consumer-king Rocketeer. C+

Jingle All the Way
  • Movie
  • 89 minutes