(Welcome to DTV Descent, a collection that explores the bizarre and wild world of direct-to-video sequels to theatrically launched films. On this version, we go digging for leftover Christmas spirit the sequel to the Arnold Schwarzenegger-led vacation hit Jingle All the Way!)
It’s December, and you understand what meaning. Nothing. Completely nothing, as the calendar is an arbitrary assemble meant solely to make us assume we matter in the universe. It additionally means common film columns typically shift their consideration in the direction of a give attention to vacation movies, and we right here at DTV Descent aren’t about to buck custom. (And by we, I imply me.) So this week I’m stoking the hearth, sipping some scorching chocolate, and testing the direct to video sequel to 1996’s Jingle All the Way.
The best way it often works right here is that a good to nice film will get a poor to abysmal DTV sequel, however what Jingle All the Way 2 (2014) suggests is… what if the unique is fairly dangerous too? Don’t get me flawed, it’s not an entire Christmas comedy dud like Nationwide Lampoon’s Christmas Trip (1989) and as an alternative truly delivers a pair enjoyable sequences. It has a serious weak spot, particularly with its lead character, and that’s a component that’s truly improved in the sequel. What I’m saying is, all issues thought-about, the DTV sequel starring Larry the Cable Man may simply be on par with the big-screen Arnold Schwarzenegger film. Trustworthy.
Howard Langston (Arnold Schwarzenegger, The Lengthy Goodbye) is a busy man. All of his clients are his #1 buyer, however meaning he doesn’t all the time have time for his spouse Liz (Rita Wilson, The Day It Got here to Earth) and son Jamie (Jake Lloyd, Unhook the Stars). When he misses Jamie’s huge karate recital, he guarantees the boy something he needs to make up for it and what the child needs for Christmas is a Turbo Man doll. There are solely two issues. It’s Christmas Eve, and the dolls are bought out throughout city. As the clock ticks down, Howard finds himself in a madcap quest for the solely toy that may make his son love him once more, and it’s a journey that may deliver him nose to nose with an aggressive mailman, some legal Santas, an ornery cop, and a neighbor (Phil Hartman, Fast Change) who has his sights set on Liz’s cookies.
The DTV Plot
Larry (Larry the Cable Man, A Madea Christmas) is not a really busy man. He’s a part-time trucker and part-time dad to his daughter Noel, whereas his ex-wife is fortunately remarried to a cardboard field magnate. Larry can’t compete with Victor’s wealth and all that the cash has to supply, however when a well-liked new toy hits the market – a speaking bear Noel actually, actually needs – he sees getting her one as a solution to safe her love. It doesn’t harm that it’ll additionally imply he will get to beat Victor at the Christmas recreation, however riches deliver the misguided stepdad the capacity to purchase up all the bears in city earlier than Larry can discover one for his precocious little woman.
Main males don’t come a lot greater than Arnold Schwarzenegger, and whereas it’s removed from his greatest comedy, Jingle All the Way sees him ham it up as solely he can whereas beating up Santas, buyers, and Sinbad. The pair are joined by a enjoyable assortment of acquainted faces together with Phil Hartman, Jim Belushi, Martin Mull, Harvey Korman, Richard Moll, Laraine Newman, Robert Conrad, and Chris Parnell. Once more, the film’s a bag of coal, however these skills can’t assist however deliver the semblance of a smile to your face.
Director Brian Levant has made a profession out of delivering mediocre but worthwhile comedies like Beethoven (1992), The Flintstones (1994), and Snow Canine (2002), and he does the similar with Jingle All the Way. Author Randy Kornfield hasn’t had fairly the similar degree of content material in his filmography, however he did co-write Eight Legged Freaks (2002), which has to rely for one thing.
As is just about all the time the case the DTV sequel is one thing of a step down. To be truthful, the movie value lower than one-tenth the price range of the unique, however nonetheless… Larry the Cable Man? Was Carrot Prime not obtainable? Mr. Man should have value a reasonably penny as there was nothing left for the supporting forged, leaving us with principally unfamiliar faces giving generically heightened performances. I’m not knocking their appearing expertise as they’re doing precisely what the director and movie calls for.
Keep in mind the Carrot Prime joke I simply made? You need to. It’s actually proper above. Properly, you’re not going to consider this, however I made it earlier than wanting up director Alex Zamm’s filmography and guess what? His first function was 1998’s Chairman of the Board – a starring car for freaking Carrot Prime! That’s bananas. Significantly, what are the odds? Zamm has since made a profession of DTV sequels together with Inspector Gadget 2 (2003), Beverly Hills Chihuahua 2 (2011), and Tooth Fairy 2 (2012) which additionally starred Mr. Man, earlier than helming final yr’s beloved vacation basic A Christmas Prince for Netflix. So yeah, like the micro organism you picked up in that diner rest room final week, the odds are you’ve seen a minimum of one among his films with out even understanding it.
How the Sequel Respects the Unique
The core story between the two movies stays a easy one. A father tries desperately to get the one particular toy for his or her youngster assured to earn their love and respect, however poor selections, despicable villainy, and an ignorance of the legal guidelines of physics get in their method at each flip. As talked about above, the sequel’s $5 million price range can’t compete with the unique’s $60 million, however what it lacks in reindeer (each reside and prosthetic), huge names, and dangerous optical results in makes up in the coronary heart division. It takes what the earlier movie tries and fails to do on that entrance and truly delivers.
I do know. It stunned the hell out of me too.
Schwarzenegger’s character in the unique is a harried dad who involves study the worth of household after a collection of mishaps and adventures. It’s primary and one thing we’ve seen a thousand occasions earlier than, however the script and brief operating time (beneath 90 minutes!) depart little room for nuance and character work, which means the movie goes from full velocity “comedic” antics to slamming the breaks on a lesson discovered and a heartfelt household reunion. Something greater than an off-the-cuff look, although, reveals that Howard is an entire jerk and a dumbass who simply will get fortunate in the finish with none actual redemption. Nor is he deserving of 1. If he actually cared about his household, he wouldn’t be a egocentric putz for 80 of the 89 minutes.
The sequel takes a totally totally different tack with the story, and whereas Larry is nonetheless vulnerable to dangerous calls, he’s convincing as one thing Howard by no means comes near – a father who really loves his baby. It’s nonetheless Larry the Cable Man, in fact, so let’s not fake I’m praising his appearing potential, however his affection feels actual. Extra importantly, the character is placing his daughter first at each step of the approach. There’s no want of a lesson in loving your loved ones as he does from the very first scenes. As an alternative, the lesson right here is positioned extra on the concept that point properly spent with family members is extra essential than commercially purchased presents. Sure it’s tacky, and sure it’s all overdone in an try and earn laughs and emotional responses, however dammit the reveal at the finish manages extra coronary heart in one minute than the entirety of the earlier movie achieves.
As for the script, Stephen Mazur’s humor is greatest summed up in a single line of dialogue — “When that elf flipped me, I pooped my pants a little.”
How the Sequel Shits on the Unique
Each movies are equally unfunny, and the sequel wins in the coronary heart division, however evaluating the two as senseless leisure sees the follow-up left in the dusty snow. The anticipated price range limitations imply the set-pieces right here meant so as to add power and enjoyable can’t compete with the ridiculous and effects-heavy whimsy in the unique. The hapless dad nonetheless will get knocked round fairly a bit, however as an alternative of customer brawls and flying fits it comes courtesy of electrical shocks and mini tidal waves. It is what it is, however it’s missing something to match with the scene of Schwarzenegger dealing with off towards a warehouse filled with legal Santas. The scene is the spotlight of the unique, and there’s nothing comparable right here.
It’s additionally severely missing relating to the unique’s subtext (properly, textual content as it’s removed from delicate) relating to not solely the crass commercialization of Christmas but in addition the more and more aggressive shoppers. It’s performed for laughs in the first movie – ha! a probably murderous postman willingly placing a toddler’s life in actual hazard! – however the concept that consumers would trample one another in pursuit of a deal got here years earlier than the annual custom of real-world safety digital camera footage displaying idiots doing simply that. The sequel lacks something of the type leaving it a one-note story of affection, household, and all that noise.
If you need to watch a Christmas comedy this month you are able to do much better than both of the Jingle All the Way movies. The primary is overly slapsticky and irresponsible, the second is low-rent and pressured, and neither is humorous. But when it’s a must to watch one for some ungodly cause may I recommend you skip the apparent selection and give the sequel a attempt as an alternative? It’s not higher, essentially, nevertheless it relays the purpose for the season much better. (And for those who inform anybody I stated that I’ll deny it.)
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