Jingle All the Way
By Heather Boerner,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Ahnold terminates the holiday spirit.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Harold yells at his son and neglects him but eventually redeems himself by dressing up like a superhero and procuring the prized holiday gift. Jamie learns that the gift is less important than the love of his father, but only after parents and kids obsess over getting the gift.
Violence & Scariness
Lots of punching, kicking, threats, and one explosion. While pervasive, the violence is comic, and no one actually gets hurt.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Some brief kissing between parents. Ted is constantly hitting on Liz. Some unwitting double entendre by Jamie.
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Liz utters "damn" once, but other than that, it's mostly clean.
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Products & Purchases
Gumby, the Cat in the Hat, and Crayola are all prominently displayed during a holiday parade. Two dads go to extremes for a toy.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Harold and Myron sneak liquor into their coffee after a long day of toy hunting. In a fantasy sequence, Jamie drinks liquor from the bottle.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this film offers nothing in the way of genuine family fun. Young kids may enjoy the action, car chases, and explosions, but they aren't worth it for the miserable messages about consumerism and buying your child's love.
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Where to Watch
Based on 26 parent reviews
A Fun Christmas Movie Albeit Sleazy Character
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More cussing than advertised
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What's the Story?
Harold Langston (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is a workaholic dad who doesn't spend enough time with his son, Jamie. In order to win back Jamie's love, Harold offers to buy him anything he wants for Christmas. Jamie knows what he wants immediately. In an excited voice, he recites the TV ad for the new TurboMan toy. Just days before Christmas, Harold sets out to find the toy, but it's sold out everywhere. He roams from store to store, chases ping pong balls for toy lotteries, visits a creepy shop of stolen and broken gifts, and rushes to a radio station to try to win a TurboMan contest. Along the way, he becomes rivals with a mail carrier dad, Myron (Sinbad), who quite literally goes postal. In an even ickier subplot, a womanizing next door neighbor (Phil Hartman) uses his good-dad persona to try to seduce Harold's wife, Liz (Rita Wilson).
Is It Any Good?
If you don't have to watch Jingle All the Way, don't. It's everything that's wrong with the holiday season: It's competitive, it's stressful, it's desperate, and it's all about consumerism. In short, there's no one in this movie for kids to look up to. And what that means is that, despite being about getting toys, this is a movie for adults who've been in Harold's position and who desperately want to be their sons' heroes. But it's not fun to watch for anyone.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the movie's message. Is Christmas really all about getting THE toy? How do parents make time for their kids and show their love without gifts? What are your favorite things to do, especially during the holidays, that don't require spending money?
- In theaters: November 21, 1996
- On DVD or streaming: October 12, 2004
- Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Phil Hartman, Rita Wilson
- Director: Brian Levant
- Studio: Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment
- Genre: Comedy
- Topics: Holidays
- Run time: 85 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: action violence, mild language and some thematic elements
- Last updated: June 2, 2023
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