Control Nathan Rabin: Jingle All the Way 2 (2014)

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Welcome to the latest Control Nathan Rabin, the column where I give the living Saints who fund this website through Patreon, and who are, let’s be honest, the real heroes, an opportunity to choose between which of two unpromising movies I must see and then write about. Since I have not punished myself with a Larry the Cable Guy movie since A Madea Christmas, I gave patrons a choice between two late in the game direct-to-video sequels produced in conjunction with World Wrestling Entertainment: The Tooth Fairy 2 and Jingle All the Way 2. 

Possibly motivated by warm nostalgic memories of all-time holiday classic Jingle All the Way, y’all generous souls chose the 2014 sequel to the Arnold Schwarzenegger 1995 hit, which made a small fortune despite being more or less universally reviled. I know the movie less as a cynical, crass Yuletide slapstick farce than as a brilliant and enduring joke on the old Conan show, where the show’s faux-Schwarzenegger (voiced by Robert Smigel) was always pimping his “All time holiday classic” which he pronounced Chingle All Da Vey. 

When I finally got around to watching Jingle All the Way for my Forgotbusters column, I was predictably disappointed: as a running joke, Jingle All the Way is brilliant and inspired. As an actual movie, it’s an utterly forgettable headache.

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Jingle All the Way 2 arrived deep into what has been a rocky and not particularly distinguished cinematic journey for Mr. The Cable Guy, with the exception of his obscenely lucrative voiceover turn in the Cars trilogy. Larry might be a preposterously successful stand-up and Prilosec pitchman but the whole film thing hasn’t quite worked out for him, perhaps because he appears to have played a Cable Guy in none of his films. That's just confusing, is what it is.  

Didn’t anybody have the bright idea to put Larry in a Cable Guy remake? Fucker writes itself. To make things worse, Hollywood cast Larry in Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector. That title is just a big ball of confusion and misdirection. 

You could say the same about Jingle All the Way 2 itself. Somehow Larry the Cable Guy, a sentient fart of a performer, and World Wrestling Entertainment have teamed up to make a movie seemingly targeted at pre-pubescent girls that may, alas, be too sappy and maudlin for its target demographic. 

If you like your Larry lewd, crude and rude, and overflowing with hillbilly attitude, then I suspect you will be disappointed with the kinder, gentler Larry found here, whose defining characteristic seems to be his fundamental decency and his pathological obsession with being the perfect father to his annoyingly precocious daughter Noel (Kennedi Clements). 

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As her name subtly suggests, Noel loves Christmas, but more than anything she loves her dad Larry (Larry the Cable Guy). Clements spends most of her time onscreen gazing adoringly at her dad, who may live in a trailer and be unemployed but is nevertheless the greatest father on Earth. 

His life revolves around doting on his daughter, who is doubly blessed to have a stepfather (Brian Stepanek as Victor) who is making a strong challenge to be the world’s greatest stepfather and has the money and resources to mount a Normandy-level assault on his precious, pampered little princess of a stepdaughter’s heartstrings. 

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It’s never clear exactly how Larry makes a living, so I’ll guess that he’s either a cable guy or a health inspector. Larry lives in a trailer, and not one of those nice ones, but he nevertheless has a smoking hot ex-wife who still clearly adores him. Later on we meet another ex of Larry’s who is inexplicably attractive and bourgeoise as well. 

It’s not just Larry’s elegantly put together, upper-class ex-wife and ex-girlfriend who found Larry irresistible despite his oxen appearance, poverty and crudeness: the attractive waitress at the diner where Larry eats clearly wants to jump Larry’s bones as well. Why is Larry so improbably irresistible to women? Well, Jingle All the Way 2 never explicitly comes out and says it, but Larry is clearly a big-dick fuck machine whose Christmas log gives women the kind of screaming orgasms that can be heard in nearby states. 

Phrases like “World class Cocksman”, “Satyr-like God of sensual pleasure” and “Master of the erotic arts” are never used to describe Larry’s performance between the sheets but it’s clearly implied that he’s a sexual dynamo. There’s only one word to describe these women and their relationship to Larry: Dickmatized. They’re sprung off that good dick, and that’s why they’re willing to overlook all of his horrible failings as a man and partner. 

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So why would Larry’s ex leave this world-class stud, this Warren Beatty-level Lothario for the unassuming looking Victor? Easy: Victor has an even more magnificent fuck-stick, and when it comes to blowing women’s minds, Larry has nothing on him. 

The disapproving looks Larry shoots his rival early in the film are supposed to be attributable to his jealousy over Victor’s wealth and power but he clearly intuits that he’s been bested when it comes to making the beast with two backs, and knows that Victor is even more of a big-dick fuck beast than he is, and that he can satisfy and astound his wife sexually in ways that Larry never even imagined possible.  

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Jingle All the Way 2 establishes to an almost perverse degree that Larry and Victor aren’t just great guys: they’re damn near perfect when it comes to being dads. This may be the only children’s film I’ve seen where the problem might just be that the dads are too nice, and too kind, and overly focussed on being present for their children and giving them exactly what they want no matter the cost, financial or otherwise. 

In Jingle All the Way 2, that is a bear called Harrison that, by using technology that was state of the art as late as the early 1980s, is able to say its own name and the name of a child as well. It’s as if the screenwriter spent several minutes Googling what an impressive children’s toy might look or sound like today and gave up and lazily dipped back into his own past by making him a shittier version of Teddy Ruxpin or Tickle Me Elmo. 

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Victor is a very nice man who just wants his stepdaughter to be happy but the film needs conflict so he makes what in wrestling is known as a “heel turn” by covertly having his director of security embark on a sinister, possibly illegal scheme to ensure that Larry is not able to buy a Harrison doll by buying up every single bear in the small town where they live. 

This isn’t just a jerky thing to do: it’s a Grinch move. And it’s completely out of character for Victor, who is a Todd Louiso type, physically, but without that actor’s star-power or name recognition. Yet the movie needs the nicest man in town to become the meanest, and then the nicest again when the plot calls for it, just to have a fucking movie, and Jingle All the Way 2 is indeed just barely a movie. 

In his desperate quest to procure a Harrison Bear, Larry does everything from trying to win a bucking reindeer contest by supergluing the seat of his pants to the mechanical bucking reindeer to threatening to defecate explosive diarrhea on the lap of a Santa. These slapstick sequences aren’t funny, of course, but they have a vulgar spark missing from the rest of the film. Jingle All the Way 2’s sappiness made me nostalgic for the old, crude Larry the Cable Guy and I fucking hate that guy. I hate him so much that when Victor bought al the Harrison dolls as a giant “fuck you” to Larry, I found myself saying out loud to this dumb fucking movie on my laptop, “That’s right. Fuck you, Larry. You don’t get any of those dolls.” .  

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Jingle All the Way 2 gets less syrupy sweet as it goes on, but the maudlin sentimentality returns with a vengeance when we learn that Noel wasn’t actually asking for a Harrison doll in her ostensibly adorable, child-like scrawl. No, what this little saint really wanted was for her family to be “together as one” (which kind of look like Harrison if you squint really hard), which she gets when, spoiler alert, everything turns out fine when Victor gives all of his Harrison bears to the townspeople for free, winning back their love in the process. I was so blown away by this turn that I projectile vomited for several minutes straight in appreciation. 

There are many, many puzzling aspects of Jingle All the Way 2. Its poster may be its most perplexing element. It features an ecstatic, beaming Larry in a Santa suit immediately behind the actress playing his daughter, who is holding a Harrison bear that looks suspiciously like a bootleg Yogi Bear doll. 

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This does not seem coincidental. The whole poster plays like an homage to the infamous Yogi Bear 3-D poster that, not to put too fine a point on it, unfortunately seemed to strongly imply that Yogi and Boo Boo were engaged in an act of sexual congress. The maraschino cherry of exquisite awkwardness to the three scoop Sundae of what the fuck came in the form of the poster’s equally misguided tagline: Great things come in bears. 

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Why would Jingle All the Way 2 steal a poster idea that has been widely and deservedly ridiculed? I have no fucking idea. I’m starting to think that the people behind Jingle All the Way 2 didn’t quite figure everything out before cameras started rolling. Or afterwards. Or ever. 

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