Magazine article The Spectator

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Magazine article The Spectator

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Article excerpt

Jingle All The Way is the story of one dad's determination to get his son the latest superhero doll, the jet-propelled TurboMan, whose catchphrase is `It's Turbo time!'. To kids, Turbo-Man is the coolest thing in pantyhose: in Brian Levant's film, we get to see his television show, his line of T-shirts, his Christmas parade float, even his lunch box. With a Disney picture, the reason they'd go to the trouble of showing us all these highly plausible merchandising spin-offs would be because they're now available at your local Toys R Us: there are, for example, over 700 product tie-ins for next week's 101 Dalmatians, not including the fur coat. By contrast, Jingle All The Way, a film packed full of promotional tieins, doesn't actually have any: Fox left it too late to get anything into the stores for Christmas. That's rather endearing, considering the movie's protagonist is a man who leaves it too late to get to the stores in time for Christmas. It also adds a kind of accidental integrity to the film's portrait of commercial frenzy and consumer exploitation: you've seen the film; now buy.. something entirely unconnected with it.

The negligent pop in this instance is Arnold Schwarzenegger, playing a busy exec who's forgotten to get his son the Turbo-Man doll he's expecting from Santa. On the morning of Christmas Eve, he sneaks off to the mall, only to find that Turbo-Man is such a huge hit he's sold out. Somehow, dad has to get hold of one: after all, the kid's set his heart on the TurboMan doll, and can recite its many unique features, including the 15-phrase `realistic voice activator'. This, of course, is a feature Arnie himself could use, since most of the time he talks like a superhero doll who's fallen in the bath and gotten his voice activator waterlogged. I'd never really noticed before but, when he's in a suit, he looks strangely like Charlton Heston. Maybe Arnie is just a chuck doll gone wonky, but still with discernible traces of the original (for example, he's the only other Republican in Hollywood). Like most plastic figures, his physique has been exaggerated rather in the way my Marie Osmond doll has, proportionately, a 72-inch bust; also, to judge from the amount of sex scenes in Arnie's films, he has no private parts whatsoever - like my Donny Osmond doll.

For all that, I'd say this was Arnie's most accomplished acting to date. …

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