JINGLE ALL THE WAY. (1996) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

jingle all the wayJINGLE ALL THE WAY. (1996) DIRECTED BY BRIAN LEVANT. STARRING ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER, JAKE LLOYD, RITA WILSON, PHIL HARTMAN, ROBERT CONRAD, SINBAD AND JAMES BELUSHI. REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

Ho-ho-ho and Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year and all that festive jazz…! JINGLE ALL THE WAY is one of those seasonal staples that’s as much a part of Christmas as getting pissed on bubbly while you’re waiting for the turkey to cook, and shagging the one person at your work’s annual Christmas do who’s guaranteed to put the snap you drunkenly allowed them to take of your ass up on social media. That’s not just me, surely…? Lol.

Anyway, I’d classify JINGLE ALL THE WAY as a Christmas comedy on a par with THE GRINCH WHO STOLE CHRISTMAS, CHRISTMAS WITH THE KRANKS, NATIONAL LAMPOON’S CHRISTMAS VACATION, HOME ALONE and all those other favourite Crimbo films we all love to unearth at this time of year. Parents will identify with it (painfully so, I’d say!) and kids will laugh their heads off at it.

It stars the Austrian Oak, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and he’s in a much more perilous situation than any fix he’s ever had to face in his TERMINATOR or other action-packed movies. He’s a Dad at Christmas who has failed, repeat failed, to pick up the toy his son wants for Christmas in advance of the big day. Boo…! For shame, Howard Langston, for shame. That’s his name, lol.

He is a bad father. He should be tied to a chair and pelted with tofu balls while Cliff Richard’s MISTLETOE AND WINE plays on repeat on the sound-system. Too harsh, you say? No, I’m sorry but the penalty stands. It has to stand, if the world order isn’t to collapse under a weight of wrapping paper and festive ribbons and bows.

There’s no crime worse than failing to buy Little Timmy or Tammy Snotnose exactly what they want for Christmas. Money equates love, see? The bigger the gift, the more you love your kid. Simple. And buy two of everything. The little brats won’t wanna share. And for Chrissakes, remember the bloody batteries…!

Howard is horrified to discover on Christmas Eve that he has neglected to purchase the toy which his son Jamie has asked Santa for this Crimbo. The must-have toy-du-jour is Turbo Man. I love the way the people in the toy-stores all laugh maniacally at him when he asks for a Turbo Man. Any self-respecting parent worthy of the name knows that that particular toy has been sold out for months. Hah!

The scenes of chaos in the toy-stores in the film on this Christmas Eve are terrifying, but not at all unusual. A family member had the misfortune to work in a Dublin toy-store last Christmas and she still hasn’t forgotten the misery. The stampeding, the screaming and bawling, the abuse, the recriminations, and that was just the staff. Never mind the pushy parents or the marauding kids.

She sits in her chair at home every day now, not talking, just continually rocking back and forth, and when she closes her eyes she can still see the shells falling, smell the awful smell of burning flesh and put her hands into the pile of goo that used to be her best friend’s face… No, wait a minute. That was ‘Nam, wasn’t it? From what I hear, though, there’s not much difference between the two…

Anyway, Howard finds himself in some extraordinary situations as he races around town looking for a Turbo Man doll in time for the Christmas Parade later in the day. Followed everywhere he goes by a manic mailman looking for the same toy and a pissed-off copper who likes to give out parking tickets, he encounters a group of crooked Santas (crooked in the sense of corrupt, not askew!), chases a small girl through a crowded shopping mall, breaks into his neighbour’s house with theft in mind and pretty much terrorises the host of a radio show.

This is all in the name of finding the doll and proving to little Jamie and his wife Liz that he’s neither the screw-up they seem to think he is nor a neglectful, emotionally- and physically- absent parent.

What the kid and the wife don’t seem to realise is that the reason that Dad is away so much is because he’s working his butt off to keep the ungrateful pair in the style they’ve obviously long been accustomed to. And what a style! Their house is fabulous.

As this is an American film, they’ve really gone to town on making the film look as magically Christmassy as possible. I’ve always maintained that the Americans know how to keep Christmas well, as old Scrooge might say.

The houses and snow-covered gardens and streets are all decked out in full festive regalia, the shops look gorgeous and there are real carollers singing in the open air in proper Victorian garb. Charles Dickens, the writer credited with inventing the true traditional Victorian Christmas by putting it all down in his books for posterity, would be proud to see how wonderfully festive it all is.

Arnie is funny and handsome throughout, especially when he’s all togged out as Turbo Man for the parade. I love the way his wife says ‘Howard…!’ in surprise when she realises that she’s actually sexually attracted to her husband in the super-hero suit. Well, it’s a very snug-fitting suit, ahem. I wouldn’t be in any rush to take it back to the costume shop myself…

Phil Hartman, the voice of both Lionel Hutz and Troy McClure from THE SIMPSONS, does a real star turn here as the obnoxious Ted, Howard’s annoying, know-it-all next-door-neighbour who always has to go one better, much to Howard’s irritation.

It’s a lot like THE SIMPSONS, with Ted as Ned the pious and virtuous neighbour who gets his son’s TURBO MAN weeks in advance of Christmas and Howard as Homer who forgets it completely until- you guessed it- the last minute.

Homer, however, would have forgotten it because he was more interested in boozing at Moe’s Bar than in preparing for Christmas, something he’d perceive to be Marge’s territory. Howard only forgets because he’s genuinely snowed-under at work. Snowed-under, geddit? It’s funny ’cause it’s Christmas.

Anyway, the housewives all adore the newly-divorced Ted, and Ted has his sights set on Howard’s missus Liz, probably because he’s actually jealous as hell of the muscular Howard. I love Ted’s line to Howard which reveals all Ted’s own insecurities and petty envy: ‘You can’t bench-press your way out of this one…!’ See what I mean? Jealous, jealous, jealous.

The film is good clean fun, if a tad far-fetched and, at the end, the commercial message it’s been sending to viewers all throughout the film (to buy, buy, buy and then buy some more) gets turned completely on its head, which is nice.

Keep watching those end credits as well, because there’s a cute little twist right at the very end which impatient viewers, anxious to switch off and get the little horrors to bed, might miss. Aw, kids. Kids are great, aren’t they? You can’t live with them, you can’t donate them to charity. Well, that’s what the woman in Oxfam told me, anyway, and she’d know…

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.
Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens’ fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

You can contact Sandra at:

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHarrisPureFilthPoetry

https://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com

http://sexysandieblog.wordpress.com

http://serenaharker.wordpress.com

sandrasandraharris@gmail.com

jingle all the way

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HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS/ THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS: A FESTIVE DOUBLE BILL OF HOLIDAY FILM REVIEWS BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

grinchgrinch

DR. SEUSS’ ‘HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS’ AND TIM BURTON’S ‘THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS’: A FESTIVE DOUBLE BILL OF HOLIDAY FILM REVIEWS BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

DR. SEUSS’ ‘HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS.’ (2000) BASED ON THE WRITINGS OF DR. SEUSS. DIRECTED BY RON HOWARD. PRODUCED BY BRIAN GRAZER AND RON HOWARD.

STARRING JIM CARREY, TAYLOR MOMSEN AND ANTHONY HOPKINS AS THE NARRATOR.

TIM BURTON’S ‘THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS.’ (1993) BASED ON STORY AND CHARACTERS CREATED BY TIM BURTON. DIRECTED BY HENRY SELICK. PRODUCED BY TIM BURTON AND DENISE DI NOVI. MUSIC BY DANNY ELFMAN FROM ‘THE SIMPSONS.’

STARRING CHRIS SARANDON AND CATHERINE O’HARA.

These are two festive favourites that strike me as being kind of similar, which is why I’ve decided to lump ’em in together in this steaming double helping of Christmassy film reviews. They’re both beautifully animated and they each have a strong iconic male character in the lead role.

Namely, the Grinch who tried to steal Christmas because he f***ing hates it and Jack Skellington from Halloween Town, the guy who is so enchanted by the new and novel idea of Christmas that he tries to, well, not so much steal it exactly but, shall we say, he attempts to appropriate it for himself and his fellow ghouls just for one holiday season to see how it goes.

I’ll be totally honest with you guys. I possibly would have hated ‘HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS’ if it hadn’t been for the presence in it of Jim Carrey. He bends over backwards to deliver a powerhouse performance as the lead character, the furry green and wrinkly fellow who lives on the outskirts of the mythical town of Whoville.

He lives as a cranky and Christmas-hating outcast, mostly by choice but also because the townspeople are afraid of the Grinch and hate his practical jokes and negative attitude towards Christmas, the holiday season they love more than any other.

They go way overboard themselves for Christmas, turning the little town of Whoville into a veritable winter wonderland of fun, feasting and festivities. And all the while, the Grinch sits alone in his cave muttering ‘Bah Humbug!’ at each fresh manifestation of the townspeoples’ festive excess.

The only person (or are they really people with their freakishly flattened ‘League Of Gentlemen’ snouts?) in town with any compassion for the Grinch is little Cindy Lou Who, played by Taylor Momsen with a couple of really big ugly fake front teeth shoved in her pie-hole.

She’s sorry for the hated creature, with whose pitiful backstory we’re fully au fait through a sequence of flashbacks. There are perfectly good reasons for his miserly Christmas-hating, it seems. This makes us sympathise with the Grinch rather than the mercenary townsfolk.

Cindy Lou is also worried sick about the way that Christmas in her town has become all about the presents, the excesses and the materialistic element of the festive season. Can she make her parents and the rest of the Whos of Whoville acknowledge that the true meaning of Christmas is the love we share with friends and family?

And, in the meantime, a thoroughly hacked-off Grinch is planning to steal the whole kit and kaboodle, just like Homer Simpson from THE SIMPSONS when he has to save Christmas for the people of Springfield by stealing everyones’ Funzo toys. Let’s see now. That makes four Christmases he saved, versus six he ruined, three were kind of a draw…!

The animation is gorgeous and the songs are all cleverly written. The film has a great message but I’m very much afraid that I hated all the Whos, even Cindy Lou, and I still think in all honesty that Jim Carrey is the best thing about the movie. It’s still makes for a good Christmas watch for the kids, though.

And watch out for that awards ceremony. It’s the funniest awards ceremony since Fr. Ted Crilly picked up his Golden Cleric in the Christmas Special of FATHER TED back in the late ‘Nineties.

THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS, a stop-motion animation film, is just sheer perfection all the way through. Chris (THE PRINCESS BRIDE, FRIGHT NIGHT, DOG DAY AFTERNOON) Sarandon voices the lead character of Jack Skellington, a lanky skeleton with the fancy title of ‘the Pumpkin King of Halloween Town.’

Halloween Town is the marvellous creation of Tim Burton, a fantasy world peopled by the most adorable ghouls, goblins, vampires, werewolves, witches, trick-or-treaters, boogeymen and other such wicked little oddities. The imagination Tim Burton must have simply defies all logic.

Jack is in charge of organizing their annual Halloween holiday, which the creepy residents of Halloween simply live for, which is cute indeed considering that most of the little blighters are actually Un-Dead, haha.

When we come in, however, Jack is actually starting to get bored and fed-up with the same old rigmarole every year. He’s actually bored with Halloween, if you can credit that, and he yearns for a change.

When he accidentally stumbles upon the holiday of Christmas and decides that it might be a bit of a lark to take it over for once, the stage is set for some distinctly un-Christmassy activities…

The animation here is exquisite, as are all the delightfully spooky entities with which Tim Burton has peopled his magical fantasy world. The songs are all brilliantly written by Danny Elfman of THE SIMPSONS, and the character of Jack himself is just a delight to watch.

Look at the way he carefully researches the holiday of Christmas and tries to figure out just exactly what is the deal with the whole thing! It’s marvellous and heartwarming to witness.

Sally the Rag Doll-slash-amateur-toxicologist (wonder if any of the naughtiest of the wee gremlins have ever asked her for roofies for a bit of the old ‘in-out…?’) is kind of the Cindy Lou Who of this film.

She’s the only one who can see that Jack Skellington is possibly heading for the disaster of a lifetime, kidnapping Sandy Claws and taking over Christmas and everything. She’s also madly in love with Jack, of course. Will Jack, the silly sausage, work this out in time, or is he too busy unintentionally ruining Crimbo…? Well, you know what men are like…

On my 2008 SPECIAL EDITION DVD of THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS, two wonderful short films by Tim Burton are also included. That’s why you should always check out the extra features, people. You can find some real gems nestling amongst them sometimes.

The first of these is VINCENT from 1982, in which horror icon Vincent Price narrates a grisly little poem about a boy called- you guessed it- Vincent, who might be a perfectly normal little boy in some respects but who really wants to be like his idol, Vincent Price.

Little Vincent Malloy likes to read the writings of Edgar Allan Poe and wants to immortalise people in his wax museum just like his idol did in that marvellously creepy film about, well, a wax museum.

Directed and written by Tim Burton, this six-minute treasure (there’s no other word for it) is the most exquisite piece of horror cinema you’ll possibly ever see. Vincent Price narrates with fiendish glee and it’s so nice to hear the familiar rich deep timbre of his voice reading the cleverly twisted rhymes.

The second of these short films is called FRANKENWEENIE (1984), which was recently (2012) made into one of those glossy big kids’ films for Halloween. It’s the story of a young boy called- believe it or not- Victor Frankenstein, who’s an American kid from the ‘Fifties who positively adores his dog Sparky.

When a tragedy occurs and Sparky is called away to Doggie Heaven, little Vincent takes inspiration from a school science experiment to help him bring the furry critter back to life, with mixed results.

The film is one of the purest tributes to the original FRANKENSTEIN movies from UNIVERSAL you’ll ever see, and it also features horror royalty Shelley Duvall, the mom from THE SHINING, as Victor’s mother. And watch out for the canine Elsa Lanchester, she’s a real hottie…!

THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS is probably the only film that so successfully manages to blend our two favourite seasonal holidays. I can’t even think of any others. It makes great viewing for either holiday. Enjoy the hell out of it, dear readers, and Happy Holidays to everyone out there in Internet Land! May we all have a delightfully fiendish and ghoulish 2017. (In a good way, of course!) xxxxxx

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens’ fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

You can contact Sandra at:

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHarrisPureFilthPoetry

https://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com

http://sexysandieblog.wordpress.com

http://serenaharker.wordpress.com

sandrasandraharris@gmail.com

https://twitter.com/SandraAuthor