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R: ARCHIVE, S: REVIEWS, D: 11/21/1996,

Jingle all the Way

The year's requisite toy story, and Hollywood's umpteenth Absentee Dad tract, this pseudo-holiday heartwarmer switches the gender of Miracle on 34th Street with its tale of a workaholic father (Arnold Schwarzenegger) who keeps making empty promises to his young son. Missing his kid's karate class is irresponsible enough, but when Dad forgets to pick up a TurboMan action figure ("The hottest-selling Christmas toy ever," we're told), the fate of western capitalism hangs in the balance. Thus fully accessorized, Jingle All the Way forces our hero to scour the shopping malls of frigid Minneapolis, even as it challenges Flintstones auteur Brian Levant to reclaim his title as king of the tie-in. God forbid Arnold should have to shell out for one of those Spanish-speaking turbomen being hocked in the bad part of town.

Of course, the kid will eventually realize that fatherly love means more than money (if forced to choose), and that he has the real Last Action Figure in good ol' Dad. But until that time, Levant pits his taxed CEO against a comically uneducated mail carrier (Sinbad) who's desperately seeking TurboMan himself; in the huge action finale, Arnold half-wittingly dons a TurboMan outfit in order to duke it out against Sinbad's evil "Dementor" during a Christmas parade. A TV announcer cautions that "this could be the end of civilization as we know it," though anyone who's seen Ransom will know better than to doubt the power of a rich white dad. At the Copley Place, the Fresh Pond, and the Circle and in the suburbs.

-- Rob Nelson