For the Semi-Finals of the Holiday Movie Tournament we'll be focusing on two questions and they are different from the first round.
Question 1: What makes this movie a Christmas classic?
Question 2: Why is this movie more of a classic than the one it's up against?
Keep these two questions in mind as you read the arguments set forth by our two contestants and please remember to vote at the end.
Please remember to vote based on the argument presented and not just on which movie you like more!
Every generation has it’s classic holiday movies. In the 70s most were animated classics that still air today. Children of the 80s were treated to flicks like A Christmas Story and one the movies in competing here, Christmas Vacation. Even people from time immemorable enjoyed classic films like It’s a Wonderful Life and Miracle on 34th Street. Jingle All the Way is a classic of a different kind, a classic for newer generation of dwindling attention spans. Those who were raised on saturday morning cartoons, during the pinnacle of action megastars and brainwashed by insane toy commercials. What makes Jingle All the Way a classic is how unique it is from its peers. Every holiday classic has memorable moments that elevate it to classic status and this one is no different. Scenes like the the Grinch's burglary montage, the Central Park lift off in Elf, or Linus’ speech about the meaning of Christmas are what make us want to watch these films annually no matter how many years have gone by. Jingle All the Way’s unforgettable scenes are unlike any of the classic films you might compare it to because instead of centering around the monotony of the holidays it gives the audience so much more. In place of stringing up lights we see them being ripped off walls during a chase involving a jet pack and comedic genius Sinbad dress as a supervillian. Rather than see another protagonist dealing with his family drama, Jingle All the Way gives its viewers the definitive action star of his generation punching an animatronic reindeer out cold and then sharing a beer with it. Jingle All the Way entertains from start to finish in a variety of ways that little other holidays even come close to achieving and it’s extraordinary moments are what makes it stand out amongst its peers.
Christmas Vacation is not only a good Christmas movie it is a quintessential Christmas classic. At the end of the day Christmas isn’t about a nordic fat man in a sleigh or receiving gifts, Christmas is a time to come together with the ones you care about and try to have a good time just being with each other. All the things we do during the holidays are for the benefit of others and there’s no other movie in the Christmas canon that illustrates this as perfectly as Christmas Vacation. Clark Griswold’s missions is good and true and as much of a screw up as he is he’s ultimate a good guy with his heart in the right place who is just trying to do something good for all his family. That’s what Christmas is all about and Christmas Vacation transmits this message without being preachy or sanctimonious, it’s a great balance. There’s no angels getting wings or bells that can only be heard with a pure heart, it’s just a dude trying. Christmas Vacation shows us that there’s power in us just trying to make these days something special.
In addition to that Christmas Vacation is one of the most rewatchable movies ever made, period. It has become a timeless movie because it is built on things that happen to almost every one of us on any given Christmas. Even if you don’t have a big family of relatives that you only see once a year during the holidays, you’ve definitely dealt with having to untangle a massive string of lights only to find out they don’t work, and if not that at the very least you’ve been hit with massive nostalgia during the Holidays just like Clark Griswold was when he got locked in the attic. There’s so many scenes in this movie that resonate with anyone who watches the movie and the scenes that resonate with the viewer will change as the viewer grows up too, this makes the movie infinitely rewatchable and when paired with the message and delivery elevates Christmas Vacation to a Christmas classic.
Christmas Vacation really is an all time great Christmas Movie, the Griswold light show is the original standard for Christmas light goals. Despite all it’s charm and humor though, the film is objectively inferior to Jingle All the Way. Rather than relying solely on comedy, of which there is plenty with the aforementioned comedy legend Sinbad, Jingle All the Way combines it with action, suspense and even emotional releases. Schwarzenegger’s Howard isn’t the identifiable peppy archetype of humorous incompetence like Chevy Chase’s Clark is, but he give us a different type to root for. He is a vessel for the story, an avatar, for the people that work hardest to make Christmas memorable. Putting aside the fact that in the movie Howard actually forgot to get his son’s gift, he represents the parents that drive from toy store to toy store on their lunch breaks for a week to get their child that one gift(Thanks mom). It has a relatable story that bucks the generic stereotypes a lot family movies we cherish suffer from. Christmas, for all its fun and excitement has become an ordeal and this movie exhibits all the worst aspects of the season. Jingle All the Way evokes all the anxiety of the Holidays, from the mobs of last minute shoppers attacking each other to details like dealing with terrible traffic throughout the film. Most of my generation and those behind will never know what a Christmas bonus is but punching an old lady in the face for the season’s hot item may be a legitimate possibility. While that pessimistic viewpoint may sound bleak this movie proves to be greater than the one it is up against by how it handles these situations. It does so in a lighthearted way that allows the audience to laugh at/through the terrible experiences this time of year can bring and it even has a happy ending. It can be therapeutic viewing during the most stressful of seasons. Jingle All the Way tackles the modern holiday season in such a way that makes it more relevant than when it was released 11 years ago and that makes it is a greater Holiday movie than Christmas Vacation.
Here’s the thing about a Christmas Classic it has to be the pinnacle of SOMETHING right? Is Jingle All the Way even good? Sure Arnold Schwarzenegger is funny in the same way that watching a horse eat peanut butter is funny, but this isn’t even in the top 5 of Arnold movies. It’s definitely not Sinbad’s best movie (Blank Check). You know who’s best movie this is? Jake Lloyd, the whiny kid who is begging Arnold for a knock off Buzz Lightyear, wanna know why this is his best movie? Because his second best movie is Star Wars: Episode 1. Jingle All the Way’s crowning achievement is being responsible for giving us Young Anakin Skywalker.
Additionally I don’t see how the message of this movie can be seen as good in this day and age. It’s about a rich salesman who is trying to buy back the affection of his kid because he missed his karate showcase by getting him a doll that’s sold out. As if this wasn’t endearing enough Harold, the rich, well off, buff salesman who neglects his son and wife is competing directly with a black postal worker who is overworked to the point that he has been unable to shop for a gift and they make HIM look like the bad guy. This movie has the viewer cheering for Wall Street and cheering against the overworked and underpaid blue collar worker. To make matters worse our “hero” Howard hijacks the city Christmas parade endangering the lives of thousands as he operates a jetpack in a crowded city center, when he miraculously doesn’t cause a catastrophe he gives a doll to his son.
While Christmas Vacation teaches us that trying is enough and not everything has to go well in order for things to be okay, Jingle All the Way enforces the twisted idea that the only thing that matters is getting the gift your loved ones ‘want’ and that doing so will right all wrongs. Jingle All the Way preaches that the rich can get away with endangering a whole city in search of the pleasure of their children and that the rules don’t apply to them, while Christmas Vacation holds the rich and powerful above us accountable for their part in screwing us over. Which movie better aligns to a good Christmas?