I’m not sure if my pick here fully fits, to be honest. The movie was bashed thoroughly by critics for sure, but it does seem to have gained something of a fanbase as the years go by. Lord knows it certainly still has its detractors though, and 5.0 on IMDB isn’t exactly stellar numbers, so let’s go with it anyway.
Speaking of detractors, yours truly certainly was one for a long time. I had caught the end of Jingle All the Way on TV sometime in the late 90s and I recall thinking it seemed really dumb and ridiculous. It’s very much a film that it’s easy to be skeptical towards. I mean, a Christmas comedy starring Arnold Schwarzenegger? It must be awful, right? Flash forward a decade or so and all my friends started talking about how it’s the best holiday film of all time. I was convinced that they were nuts and tried to argue against the movie’s supposed merits, but they insisted I watch it again. So I did eventually. And for that, I’m glad.
It’s actually really funny. Not even “funny because it’s so bad”, but genuinely funny. A lot of it stems from the fact that it’s Arnold in the lead. A movie about a family father scrambling around a city and getting into trouble trying to find an action figure for his son in time for Christmas is fun in its own right, but doubly so with Mr. Action Hero himself and his wonderful accent. He chases children through ball pits, gets into scuffles with reindeers and makes deals with dubious Santa Clauses. It’s all very silly, of course, but Schwarzenegger brings a lot of charm to the role. The supporting cast do a fine job too, with the stand-outs being Sinbad as Arnold’s loudmouth rival and Phil Hartman as his slimy perfect neighbor.
It’s hardly a perfect movie. A few jokes do fall flat, there are some pacing issues and a few action scenes go on for too long or could have been cut entirely. So maybe I wouldn’t say that I “love” it. Still, it’s definitely a movie that’s much better than what one may think.