Jingle All the Way of the Gun

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Jingle All the Way of the Gun
Jingle All The Way of the Gun.png
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Christopher McQuarrie
Produced by Some rich asshole
Written by Christopher McQuarrie
Starring
Music by Irving Berlin
Cinematography Dick Pope
Edited by Stephen Semel
Production
company
Artisan Entertainment
Aqaba Productions
Distributed by Artisan Entertainment
Release date
November 22, 1996
Running time
119 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $75 million
Box office $125 million

Jingle All the Way of the Gun is a 1996 American independent holiday action film. It stars Arnold Schwarzenegger and Benicio del Toro as a pair of low-level petty criminals who plot separate heists to steal a sold-out Turbo Man action figure to give to their respective sons for Christmas.

Unusual for an independent film, the $75 million budget was needed to cast Schwarzenegger, make the Turbo Man action figure, cast James Caan, and make the Turbo Man and Dementor costumes.

Plot[edit]

Howard Longbaugh (Schwarzenegger) and Myron Parker (del Toro) are a pair of low-level petty criminals, living off the grid and funding their existence through unconventional and often illegal means. Wanting to move past petty crime, they vow to get the proverbial "big score" in order to afford Christmas presents. While at a sperm donation clinic, the pair overhear a telephone conversation detailing a $1,000,000 payment to a surrogate mother for bearing the child of money launderer Hale Chidduck (Curtis Armstrong). Parker and Longbaugh resolve to kidnap the surrogate, Robin (Juliette Lewis), but their attempt escalates into a shootout with her bodyguards, Donner (Taye Diggs) and Blitzen (Nicky Katt). The kidnappers are able to elude the bodyguards, who are arrested.

Donner and Blitzen are bailed out and returned to Chidduck by his right-hand man Joe Sarno (Jim Belushi). As Sarno begins coordinating Robin's rescue, Longbaugh contacts her gynecologist, Dr. Allen Painter (Phil Hartman), and orders him to a truck stop to examine Robin.

When Howard and Myron's wives remind them that their respective sons, Jamie (Jake Lloyd) and Kevin (Alex D. Linz), want Turbo Man action figures for Christmas, the two outlaws set out on a last-minute Herculean mission to find the elusive most popular toy of the holiday season.

When they find out the toy is completely sold out, they become even more determined, even going so far as turning on each other. They take jobs as department store Santas and search every store in town.

Howard calls from a motel south of the Mexican border and discovers that Donner and Blitzen have one of the last Turbo Man dolls left. They demand a $15 million ransom for the action figure. Howard, tempted more by the toy than the money, begins forming a plan to retrieve the toy and keep the money. As Howard hangs up the telephone outside the motel, he is approached by Sarno, who offers to pay $1 million if he agrees to accept a counterfeit Turbo Man and simply walk away. Howard declines the offer and returns to his room, where Myron and Robin are playing cards. Sarno then returns to Chidduck's home to plan the next step.

Howard and Myron hear on the KQRS radio station that there is a trivia competition in which the winner will receive a Turbo Man doll. They rush to the studio, with Howard breaking the door to the recording booth, under the impression that the DJ (Martin Mull) has a Turbo Man doll in the studio. The two men point their guns at the DJ and hold him hostage. After Myron threatens to blow up the studio with a package he claims is a mail bomb, he and Howard find out that whoever wins the competition will get a doll "eventually." The package is revealed to be a music box that plays the Suspiria theme.

The police, led by Officer Hummell (whom Howard has already encountered on several previous occasions throughout the film), arrive in the studio, and Myron bluffs the police into backing off by threatening them with another "mail bomb," (unaware that it actually is one) allowing him and Howard to escape. Hummell, claiming to have been in the bomb squad, examines the package and declares it to be a false alarm. He confidently rips open the package and it explodes, leaving his face covered in soot.

Howard discovers his neighbor, Walter (James Caan), gave the last Turbo Man to his long-lost-and-long-forgotten adult son Buddy (Will Ferrell), whom for the past several Christmases has been living at the North Pole as an elf after crawling into Santa's bag as a baby. While at a sperm donation clinic, Myron overhears a telephone conversation where Walter tells his wife what he got Buddy for Christmas, including the Turbo Man. The two rivals independently plot to steal Buddy's Turbo Man to give to their own son, unaware that the other is planning to do the same thing.

The plan backfires when Walter, attending a barbeque with Harold's wife, Liz (Rita Wilson), catches the two men in the act, having accidentally caused a fire. He threatens to press charges. They successfully convince him that it was all just a big misunderstanding.

At the parade, Walter makes a pass at Liz and she hits him with a thermos of eggnog. Howard witnesses Walter's actions from a distance, and on his way to confront him, he runs into Officer Hummell, spilling his hot coffee all over him. Hummell recognizes Howard from the studio earlier, causing a chase. Howard is able to escape by hiding in a building where he is mistaken as the replacement actor for Turbo Man. As the "real" Turbo Man, he presents the coveted limited-edition Turbo Man doll to his son.

Before Howard can reveal himself, Myron, who has dressed as Turbo Man's arch enemy Dementor (having caught, tied up and gagged the real actor) appears. Having now become obsessed of getting the doll, Myron attacks Howard and chases Jamie up to a roof, while the crowd except for Liz think it's all part of the show. Jamie climbs up to a metal Christmas tree with Myron following. The weight of the two causes the wires supporting the tree to break and tip the tree over the edge with the two hanging on.

Using the Turbo Man suit's utilities, Howard throws a Turbo-Rang at Myron, missing him. Myron seizes the Turbo Man doll from Jamie's backpack and before he can celebrate, the Turbo-Rang comes flying back, hitting him and causing him to fall, landing into a giant Christmas present. Myron is then captured by the police. Jamie loses his grip and falls only to be saved by Howard, using the suit's jetpack.

After the show, Jamie feels guilty for yelling at Howard earlier. Howard, still dressed as Turbo Man, tells Jamie that his father will always love him, before revealing himself to his son. Officer Hummell gives the doll to Jamie, then asks Howard (as Turbo Man) to join the police force, saluting him. Howard turns and reveals himself and Hummell is dumbfounded, as Howard apologizes for all the trouble.

Myron is arrested while ranting about having to explain his failure to get the Turbo Man toy for his son. Jamie decides to give the doll to him, much to Myron and Howard's surprise. When asked why he gave it up, Jamie tells Howard that he has "the real Turbo Man at home." Howard vows to give up his life of crime and become a law-abiding citizen.

All of Sarno's men are killed in the ensuing firefight. However, Sarno manages to shoot and cripple the already wounded Howard and Myron, and then calls for an ambulance. Painter emerges with Robin and the baby. Lying in a pool of blood, Howard and Myron call out to Sarno, informing him that the baby is in fact Robin and Painter's, and thus Sarno's grandson. Howard wonders aloud if this fact will influence Sarno to let them keep the child. Robin and the baby are then taken away in the ambulance with Painter, Sarno and the money, leaving Howard and Myron to die. Days later, Chidduck's wife reveals that she is pregnant.

During the after-credits scene, it is snowing outside. Howard, who inexplicably survived his injuries, puts the star on the top of his tree and celebrates Christmas with Jamie and Liz. Liz commends Howard for everything he's done just to make Jamie happy, and then asks Howard what he got her for Christmas. Howard stares in horror at the camera before cutting to black.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

Development[edit]

After winning an Academy Award for The Usual Suspects, Christopher McQuarrie assumed that he would have no problem making his next movie "and then you slowly start to realize no one in Hollywood is interested in making your film, they're interested in making their films. So we, uh, compromised a little." He spent years as a script doctor while trying to get financing for an epic biopic of Alexander the Great for Warner Bros. before finally realizing that he "had to make a film with some commercial appeal and success to be taken seriously. But I didn't know shit about CGI." He approached 20th Century Fox and told them that he would be willing to write and direct a movie for any budget they would be willing to give him as long as he had complete creative control. "Fox told me to get fucked. No money. No control. No nothing. They didn't want my input, they just wanted me. For nothing. Which is ironic, because I figured it was a Fox kind of movie."

Over coffee, Benicio del Toro asked McQuarrie why he had not made another crime film. McQuarrie replied that he did not want to be typecast as "a crime guy" but realized that he had nothing to lose, "unemployed and ready to make trouble." Del Toro convinced him to write a crime film on his own terms because he would get the least amount of interference from a studio. McQuarrie was interested in making a movie "that you can follow characters who don't go out of their way to ingratiate themselves to you, who aren't traditionally sympathetic."

McQuarrie also didn't want it to be a traditional crime film. The holidays were coming up, and he felt the commercialization of Christmas was ripe for satire. "There was my commercial appeal right there."

McQuarrie started to write the script and "the first thing I did was to write a list of every taboo, everything I knew a cowardly executive would refuse to accept from a 'sympathetic' leading man." The first ten pages were a prologue, a trailer to another movie with Parker and Longbaugh (the real last names of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid) and was "to be shot as slick and hip as possible. Guy Ritchie, Michael Bay or Brian Levant, but with horrible, unspeakable acts of violence and degradation." During pre-production, McQuarrie realized that this was too extreme and cut it out. He and del Toro gave the script to several high-profile actors at the time all of whom turned them down. Ryan Phillippe wanted to change the direction of his career and "was besieged with choice offers, and we didn't want him, but he would not take no for an answer. He wanted Benicio del Toro's role, but we offered him Arnold's role, but felt he wasn't quite right. He graciously accepted the role of an elf. I can't remember if he made the final cut."

Arnold, whose Planet of the Apes remake was delayed at the time, was "surprisingly enthusiastic" about the film. "I hadn't seen him with that kind of grin since Kindergarten Cop." Schwarzenegger was paid a reported $20 million for the role. He enjoyed the film, having experienced last-minute Christmas shopping himself, and was attracted to playing an "ordinary" character in a family film. Joe Pesci wanted to play Myron, but del Toro was already cast. He instead opted to do an aborted version of Home Alone 3 with Daniel Stern and a teenage Macaulay Culkin. That film would ultimately be retooled into 1998's Home Alone 3 starring Alex D. Linz and nothing from the previous films.

Another who coveted del Toro's role was Sinbad, of all people. Sinbad's height and size and similar to Schwarzenegger's, but even if they had wanted him, the producers felt he was unsuited to the role of a villain as it could harm his clean, family-oriented comedy act and reputation, although Sinbad felt the character would generate the audience's sympathy rather than hate. Plus, he couldn't hurt a fly if he wanted to, even if it were Jeff Goldbum.

"Just for shits and giggles," they allowed Sinbad to audition. however, he missed the audition due to his appearance with First Lady Hillary Clinton and musician Sheryl Crow on the USO tour of Bosnia and Herzegovina, but Columbus waited for him to return to allow him to audition and, although Sinbad felt he had "messed" it up, he was given the part... of an elf. Luckily for the comedian, it was an villain elf. He improvised the majority of his lines in the film, which is unheard of for such a small film.

Filming[edit]

Filming took place in Minnesota for five weeks from April 15, 1996; at the time, it was the largest film production to ever take place in the state since Ernest Goes Skiing. Jingle All the Way was set and filmed in the Twin Cities metropolitan area of Minnesota at locations such as Bloomington's Mall of America, Mickey's Diner, downtown Minneapolis, Linden Hills, residential areas of Edina and primarily downtown Saint Paul. Unused shops in the Seventh Place Mall area were redecorated to unconvincingly resemble Christmas decorated stores, while the Energy Park Studios were used for much of the filming and the Christmas lights stayed up at Rice Park for use in the film, though they didn't always work. The Mall of America and the state's "semi-wintry weather" proved attractive for the studio, who didn't want to spend all that money on fake snow. Although Schwarzenegger stated that the locals were "well-behaved" and "cooperative", he was "full of shit," according to McQuarrie. McQuarrie often found filming "impossible" due to the scale and noise of the crowds who came to watch production, especially in the Mall of America, but overall found the locals to be "respectful" and "lovely people. Better than the jerks in New York or LA." McQuarrie spent several months in the area before filming in order to prepare. He is a method director after all. The film uses "artistic license" (read: utter laziness) by treating Minneapolis and Saint Paul as one city, as this was logistically easier; the police are labeled "Twin Cities Police" in the film. Additionally, the city's Holidazzle Parade is renamed the Wintertainment Parade and takes place on 2nd Avenue during the day, rather than Nicollet Mall at night. McQuarrie wanted to film the parade at night but was told to "fuck off."

The parade was filmed at Universal Studios Hollywood in California on the New York Street set, due to safety concerns. The set was designed to resemble 2nd Avenue; the parade was shot from above by helicopters and stitched into matte shots of the real-life street, because every movie needs unnecessary CGI nowadays. It took three weeks to film, with 1,500 extras being used in the scene, along with three custom designed floats. Other parts of the film to be shot in Los Angeles, California included store interiors, the hospital scenes, and the warehouse fight scene between Howard and the criminal Santas, for which a Pasadena furniture warehouse was used, like on the old Batman show. Turbo Man was created and designed for the film. This meant the commercials and scenes from the Turbo Man TV series were all shot (in 16mm) by McQuarrie, while all of the Turbo Man merchandise, packaging and props shown in the film were custom made one-offs and designed to look "authentic, as if they all sprang from the same well." Think of all the fake merchandise Mel Brooks created for Spaceballs. Along with McQuarrie, production designer Leslie McDonald and character designer Tim Flattery crafted Turbo Man, Booster and Dementor and helped make the full-size Turbo-Man suit for the film's climax. Principal production finished in August; McQuarrie "fine-tun[ed] the picture until the last possible minute," using multiple test audiences "to see where the big thrills and big laughs actually lie. But then again, test screenings have ruined many a great movie, like Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers."

Reception[edit]

Ebert Roeper Bird.JPG

Critics weren't quite sure what to make of the film. Roger Ebert, in his two-star review, said it felt like "watching two different movies."

It currently holds a 20 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Lawsuit[edit]

A screenwriter [NAME REDACTED] tried to sue the filmmakers, but decide against it because he hated the concept of somebody taking credit for this film.

See also[edit]