This is a guest post from the Renford Rejects’ fictional @Bruno_Di_Gradi
1996 then, eh? It’s difficult to believe that’s fifteen years ago, but it is. Where does the time go? Same place as my dad’s hair, I think. Anyway, in December 1996 I was ten years old, and I was very, very excited, because it was my birthday, and then a fortnight later it would be Christmas. After unwrapping my presents, my parents asked me what I wanted to do for a birthday treat. Several things came to mind, yet they were instantly rejected by my parents, who always have been a pair of goody-two-shoes. Fifteen years on, I still wonder exactly which part of wanting to lick champagne off Philippa Forrester’s nipples was so unacceptable.
One clipped ear later, I had made an appropriate decision. I wanted to go to the cinema! And I wanted to watch ‘Jingle All The Way’, a riotous Christmas caper for all the family! Sadly, I remember nothing about it, so today here I am downloading it and watching it in my bedroom. At the age of 25. Fairly certain this wasn’t how I saw my life panning out back then, but I’m fucked if I have anything else to do so let’s go for it, eh? Dim the lights!
First things first – this is a decent cast. Arnie! The late, great Phil Hartman! (You may remember him as the voice of Lionel Hutz and Troy McClure!) Sinbad! (Not the one from Brookside!) John Belushi! And a kid…I recognise that kid… IT’S ONLY SODDING ANAKIN SKYWALKER! You know, not the brooding teenage one, the little shit one from The Phantom Menace! Wow, this film is going to be AMAZING.
Arnie is Howard Langston, and he’s a very busy, charismatic businessman who doesn’t spend enough time with his wife and kids. We know this because of the very heavy handed opening scenes when he’s on the phone yakking and ignoring his lad’s karate lesson or something. By the way, apparently this kid who played Anakin retired from acting in 2001, at the age of…12. Tough life for some, innit? Anyway, Howard has missed the karate lesson, and now his son has gone all “mardy bum” and the only thing that will appease him is a Turboman doll, because we need to remember that Christmas is all about commercialism, plastic toys and being self-centred. Problem is, they’re going quick, and it’s Christmas Eve! How is hapless father Howard going to get one for his brat?! What hilarity is about to ensue?!
Away from the “Howard needs a Turboman doll” thing, there’s a pretty funny story running alongside it, and it’s one for the parents. In full Troy McClure mode, Hartman’s character (Ted) is the smarmy next door neighbour who clearly wants to give Howard’s wife a Christmas gift to remember, oi oi! There he is at their house being the perfect husband/father! He’s wrapping his arms around her as he undoes her apron for her! Oh matron! Oh I say!
I’m actually enjoying this film far more than I was expecting. The chaotic violence is frequent and hilarious – at the moment Howard is fighting a bunch of crooks dressed as Santas! But here’s a really big one…and from his voice I’m 99% certain that’s the WWE’s ‘The Big Show’! Yes, it is! Oh god this is immense. Aha, we now find out that Ted is divorced. He wants to give Howard’s wife his Christmas stocking alright, and who can blame him? She’s very attractive…oh; she’s married to Tom Hanks! What an education this film is.
I’ve not mentioned the acting so far – that’s because Arnie, as per, can’t act his way out of a paper bag. Mind you, character, acting and plot have largely been replaced by violence and who can complain about that?
Some madman that Howard is having a running battle with waves a “bomb” around in a radio studio. It isn’t a bomb! But then another package is a bomb! This is moving too quick for me to keep up. Oh, and now Howard is being chased by a reindeer, and he’s set Ted’s house on fire whilst trying to steal his Turboman doll. AND HE PUNCHED THE REINDEER!
I’m rapidly approaching my word count, so let’s fast-forward. In a splendid turn of events, Howard becomes Turboman in the Christmas parade! But the wise-cracking madman is back, and pretends to be Turboman’s arch enemy! This is dramatic stuff. Equipped with some fierce looking boomerang weapons and a jetpack(!)
Howard’s Turboman has to select a kid watching the parade and give him a Turboman doll. At last! But no! The madman chases after the kid, but rest assured Howard uses his jetpack to save the day. He reveals himself to his wife and son, who both amusingly failed to recognise him or his accent, and we have a happy family. Howard’s wife seems very impressed with her husband in his muscleman costume, meaning that sadly for Ted he won’t be unwrapping her this Christmas.
The victory is won, yet there’s one final twist. In true Hollywood style, the kid gives his doll to the madman to take home to his son. If I was Howard, I’d be fucking livid, but he seems remarkably happy by this decision. And that, as they say, is that. I went into this film wanting to hate it and give it a good kicking, but I can’t. It’s a lot of fun, truth be told, and I’m a nice person.