Jingle All The Way

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Details At A Glance

Category Family Biographies - Cast
Theatrical Trailer
Year Released 1996
Running Time 85:53 minutes
RSDL/Flipper No/No
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region 2,4 Director Brian Levant
20th Century Fox
Fox Home Entertainment
Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger 
Phil Hartman
Rita Wilson 
Robert Conrad
James Belushi
Case Transparent Amaray
RPI $36.95 Music David Newman

Pan & Scan/Full Frame No English (Dolby Digital 5.0, 384 Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
Theatrical Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
Macrovision ?Yes Smoking No
Subtitles Czech
Annoying Product Placement Yes
Action In or After Credits Yes, after credits

Plot Synopsis

    That dreaded day arrives - the last shopping day before Christmas, the day that credit card companies and retailers live for, as they know what you are going to do! As usual, you have spent too much time thinking about other things and not enough time on the really important things - like actually doing some Christmas shopping, and you are in the doghouse yet again for missing another important family event. So, what do you do? Curry favour by making wildly extravagant promises without knowing it, then spending that one last painful day trying to make good on those unkeepable promises. Considering the time of year, it is entirely obvious to see why Jingle All The Way makes its digital debut in Region 4, since the entire basis of the film is precisely that sequence of events that the vast bulk of us seem to know so well, and will be shortly repeating for the umpteenth time. Well, I am presuming that a vast bulk of us know it well, in view of the crowds that I am usually fighting through on the last shopping day before Christmas every year. No matter how many promises you make to yourself, you never seem to take stock of the fact that all those shopping days to Christmas way back in August have all a sudden just dropped off the face of the calendar and those big proud letters proclaiming the last shopping day before Christmas start boring into the back of your brain, wherever you look. And they claim there is intelligent life on Earth! Obviously not referring to Homo Sapiens.

    And that really is the story here. Howard Langston (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is your typical salesperson - insincere, work-orientated and totally lucky that his wife Liz (Rita Wilson) and son Jamie (Jake Lloyd) still put up with him. This time, he is indulging in the office Christmas party and taking orders from all his number one customers when he should be making tracks for his son's karate night where he is progressing to blue belt. Leaving it too late as usual, after a succession of minor problems, he arrives at the arena too late, although his perfect neighbour Ted Maltin (Phil Hartman) has recorded it all on tape for him! He heads home to face the music, and a very annoyed son. In trying to regain his son's favour, he promises that Jamie will indeed be getting his heart's desire - the hottest toy in the land... Turbo Man! Minor problem - Howard does not know that Turbo Man is the hottest thing this Christmas and is completely sold out. He also fails to remember that Liz asked him to buy this self-same piece of children's heaven several weeks ago. Undeterred, Howard makes the promise and come Christmas Eve heads off in pursuit of the holy grail. What follows are the adventures of Howard's quest - and his unfortunate meetings with one slightly unstable mailman, Myron Larabee (Sinbad), and poor suffering Officer Hummell (Robert Conrad). The adventures include everything up to and including chasing youngsters, fighting a bunch of con-men Santas, Ted putting the moves on Liz, participating in the bombing of a radio station foyer and a case of mistaken identity. Suffice it to say that despite all the obvious reasons why Howard should fail, everything comes up roses in the most unusual way - with the real twist coming after the credits.

    One of the big problems here is that the film does not really know what it wants to be. The material is a tad puerile and therefore "family" would seem to be the pigeonhole, but then Howard does something to a reindeer that decidedly lifts it out of the family arena and into another genre completely. The end result is a film that has no target to aim at, tries to hit every target market and fails badly in the process. My guess is that this was supposed to be another of those efforts to showcase the comedy talents of Arnold Schwarzenegger. It does not. And even if he did have an ounce of such talents, putting him in the same film as the supremely talented, and sadly lamented, Phil Hartman was not a move guaranteed to garner an Oscar for casting. Indeed, the big disappointment here is that the film does remind you how much Phil Hartman's talents are missed since his untimely death. Rita Wilson does an acceptable job as the suffering wife, and this is an early outing for Jake Lloyd before he hit the big time in Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace. I guess the best way of describing the whole film is that it is sadly misguided and the result is something that is not going to please too many. Much of the blame can be laid at the feet of director Brian Levant who simply fails to pick a direction and pursue it.

   Jingle All The Way is a sadly misguided effort that had a great deal of promise but simply fails to deliver in any great way. There are a few laughs to be had, but mainly of the uncomfortable type. The competition for the DVD buyers dollars this Christmas is the most intense yet and I don't see exactly where this one will be getting its support from. Avoidable, even for Arnie fans.

Transfer Quality


    In accordance with the theorem that the worst films get the best transfers, the transfer this film is given is exemplary. How exemplary? Well, my little note sheet contains only one entry for the entire film: at about 65:50 there is some rather noticeable telecine wobble. That is it, unless you want to note a couple of very, very minor instances of aliasing. Yet, despite the exemplary nature of the transfer, I still feel that it should have been more visually appealing.

    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and is 16x9 enhanced.

    This is a nicely sharp transfer throughout, with no problems with loss of focus or edge enhancement at all. The transfer is nicely detailed, and hides virtually nothing, with pretty decent shadow detail to boot. The transfer is in general very clear, with no serious hints of any grain problems. There are no problems at all with low level noise in the transfer. Basically, this is a transfer with which I have little to make mention of in the negative sense.

    Where I do have some issue with this transfer is in the colour palette on offer. There is nothing actually wrong with what we have here, as it is a very good colour palette, with a very nice consistent tone to it and a nice depth to the blacks and whites. It is quite a vibrant transfer, within the realms of the colours presented here. Unfortunately, I just feel that the subject matter of the film would have called for something a little brighter and a little more vibrant, just to play up the comic book aspects of the film. The best example is probably the Turbo Man costume at the parade - I felt that this should have been a lot brighter and more intensely vivid. There is no hint of oversaturation here, and colour bleed is similarly non-existent.

    There are no significant MPEG artefacts in the transfer. There are no significant film-to-video artefacts in the transfer, other than those noted above. There are no significant film artefacts in the transfer.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-to-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    There is just the one audio track on this DVD, being an English Dolby Digital 5.0 effort. Note that the packaging reference to a 5.1 soundtrack is incorrect - there is no .1 LFE channel here to be concerned about (just like the Region 1 version!). Thankfully, it is a pretty good one.

    The dialogue comes up quite well in the soundtrack, although I would guess that a lot of this was done as ADR work since it seems a little more strident at times than I would expect.

    There is no problem with audio sync in the transfer.

    The music score comes from David Newman, and a suitably Christmassy/family effort it is too. Perhaps just a few too many clichés have gone into it that prevent it from being totally memorable, but it nonetheless supports the film well indeed.

    There really is not much wrong with the soundtrack at all, apart from the missing bass channel. The surround channel usage could perhaps have been a little better, to convey a greater ambience than is the case. It is a clear soundtrack, with no distortions and a reasonable feel to the sound picture.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    Another Fox release where the extras are fairly underwhelming to say the least.


    Reasonably well-themed, they are 16x9 enhanced and that is about all that needs to be said about them.

Biographies - Cast

    Not especially extensive and not especially wide-ranging. This is the sort of thing that barely meets the minimum requirements to be called a biography. Quite why Sinbad gets one whilst Rita Wilson, James Belushi and Robert Conrad do not defies logic. Note that the packaging reference to a director biography is incorrect - there is not one on the DVD.

Theatrical Trailer

    Your prototypical 1990s film trailer that basically takes all the best bits from an eighty minute film and puts them into a two minute trailer. The result is a significantly shortened version of the film that is actually more palatable than the entire film itself. Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, it is not 16x9 enhanced and has Dolby Digital 2.0 sound.

R4 vs R1

    There is no apparent difference between the Region 4 release and the Region 1, apart from the lack of 16x9 enhancement on the Region 1 DVD. I am thrilled to report another Region 4 winner here. Sarcasm rules, okay?


    Jingle All The Way is a sadly misguided film that makes a fair fist of a claim to be the worst Christmas film of all time. Whilst the DVD itself is admirably devoid of any serious defects, the presentation leaves me just a little cold. There are better ways of spending your money in the pre-Christmas rush. I suggest you use them and stick to renting this one if you really have to see it.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Ian Morris (have a laugh, check out the bio)
4th November 2000

Review Equipment
DVD Pioneer DV-515; S-video output
Display Sony Trinitron Wega 80cm. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Audio Decoder Built in
Amplification Yamaha RXV-795. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Speakers Energy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right C-2; rears EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL