"Howard, I'm of the mind set you can never do too much to make a child's Christmas magical." - Ted Maltin
Christmas season has arrived, and Sunday “Bad” Movies is getting geared up for some Christmas related movies over the next few weeks. Normally it would be three movies leading into Christmas, but thanks to the votes of people in my Twitter feeds, a fourth Christmas movie is kicking off the month. Jingle All the Way was voted the movie that I should rewatch for the fourth anniversary, so here I am to write about it again.
Last time I watched it, I wrote about its relevance to the modern Christmas season. Though Jingle All the Way took place on Christmas Eve, it represented the whole shopping season. It was Black Friday with a Christmas ribbon tied around it. People were going crazy for the gifts they needed to buy. Stores were overcrowded for a single toy. Parades were happening. Everything about it screamed that time between Thanksgiving and Christmas. It’s the perfect movie to encapsulate this time of year.
There are other things in Jingle All the Way that are worth mentioning. I could write one post about the movie every year covering a different aspect of what makes it great. There is so much meat to it. This week, I will tackle one of the many other topics. But first…
Jingle All the Way was released in 1996. It was about Howard Langston (Arnold Schwarzenegger), a neglectful father who cared about his family but not enough to actually focus on them. He forgot to get his son the hot new holiday toy, so he spent the entirety of Christmas Eve doing whatever he could to get a Turbo Man doll. The only reason to root for Howard is because he was given villains who were even worse than him. There was Myron Larabee (Sinbad), the crazed mailman who accidentally set a bomb off in a radio station and almost killed a child by making him fall from the top of a building. There was also Ted Maltin (Phil Hartman), the bachelor neighbour of Howard. It is this character that will be the subject of this post.
Ted Maltin is an interesting character. He’s a single father who seems to care about his child more than Howard cares about Jamie (Jake Lloyd). He got his son a Turbo Man doll long before the crazy Christmas shopping. He was prepared. He got a reindeer and had his house decorated in preparation for the big holiday. Ted ensured that his son would have the perfect Christmas.
There was another side to Ted that was apparent to us adults, but not necessarily the kids watching the movie. Ted Maltin spent most of the movie trying to have sex with Howard’s wife, Liz (Rita Wilson). He was always at their house throughout Christmas Eve, while Howard was trying to find the Turbo Man doll. There was even a moment right before the parade when he tried to make a move on Liz, only to be hit in the head with a thermos. What a nice guy.
If you dig even deeper, you’ll notice that Liz wasn’t the only woman that Ted had made these kinds of moves on. Throughout the movie, hints are dropped through seemingly throwaway interactions that point to Ted getting around the neighborhood. He offered to do small chores for the wives, and things like that. The standout of all of these moments was a point when he offered to meet up with one of the neighbourhood wives to swap recipes. His character was a walking double entendre.
Not only was Ted trying to sleep with Liz, but he hated Howard because he hadn’t yet slept with Liz. For whatever reason, Ted would taunt Howard to no end. He would eat cookies in Howard’s house while on the phone with Howard. He couldn’t just put the cookie down, he had to rub it in Howard’s face. He put the star on the tree (which probably should have been up long before Christmas Eve), even though that was Howard’s job. He even started making fun of Howard’s muscular physique, saying “You can’t bench press your way out of this one” when Howard got in trouble.
Ted Maltin was the minor antagonist of Jingle All the Way. He was the antagonist for the home portion, since that whole side of the story needed to be included. Sinbad’s insane mailman character couldn’t be the only villain, because he couldn’t cause a strain on Howard’s personal life. Ted Maltin was there for that side of the story, and the movie wouldn’t be the same without his active sex life.
Now, the sequel wasn’t a part of this anniversary rewatch, but I want to highlight a big shift in story that happened involving the antagonists. Jingle All the Way had three antagonists. It had Sinbad, the antagonist of the Turbo Man doll storyline. He was the other man searching desperately for the same toy that Howard wanted. There was a very minor police officer who Howard was always causing to end up in ridiculous slapstick accidents. And then there was Ted, the threat at home.
For Jingle All the Way 2, the police officer antagonist was completely removed. The other two antagonists, the home threat and the search threat, were combined into one. The villain was the main character’s daughter’s new stepfather. It was the protagonist and antagonist vying for the affection of the little girl. There was nothing more to the conflict. Two antagonists were combined into one, which may have hurt the story. Either that, or it is impossible to capture the magic of Jingle All the Way.
There are many things that could be written about Jingle All the Way and there are many angles to take. It’s an interesting movie that is a deep source of topics. I’ve written about how it is a perfect encapsulation of the modern Christmas season, and now I’ve written about the Phil Hartman character. I don’t know if I’ll ever write about this movie again, but I do know that there are other topics I could cover. It’s a great movie and a great source of inspiration.
And here are some notes:
- Here is the original post for the Jingle All the Way movies.
- Jingle All the Way features Arnold Schwarzenegger, who was also in Hercules in New York and Batman and Robin.
- Danny Woodburn was in Jingle All the Way and 30 Nights of Paranormal Activity with the Devil Inside the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.
- Two cast members of Jingle All the Way were in New Year’s Eve. They were James Belushi and Yeardley Smith.
- Laraine Newman appeared in Jingle All the Way. She was also in a movie called Perfect.
- Have you seen Jingle All the Way? What did you think of it? What did you think about Phil Hartman’s character? You can discuss any of this stuff in the comments.
- If you suggest movies for the Sunday “Bad” Movies, I will try to fit them into the schedule. All you have to do is let me know about the movies. You can suggest them in the comments or in my Twitter feed.
- Sometimes when I’m watching movies for this blog, I post clips of them to my snapchat story. If that sounds interesting to you, add me. jurassicgriffin.
- Next week’s movie will see Hulk Hogan come into the Sunday “Bad” Movies. That’s right. I’m going to be watching his Christmas movie. Santa with Muscles is next on the schedule. Come back next week to see what kind of Hell I’m living in.