It may not be Arnold Schwarzenegger’s best film, but Jingle All the Way has found our collective hearts. A commentary on America’s consumerism packaged neatly as a family-friendly film, Jingle All the Way finds everyman workaholic Howard scrambling to secure Christmas’ hot toy for the son he neglects. Sinbad is thrown in as his shopping adversary for laughs, and the adventure ends with both the action figure and Arnold’s family secured.
As Jingle All the Way reaches 23 years in the Christmas lineup, check out these things you might not have known about it.
The film’s parade sequence took more than three weeks to film.
At the movie’s climax, Howard unwittingly becomes involved in the “12th Annual Twin Cities Wintertainment Parade,” in costume, as his son’s action hero, Turbo Man.
The sequence was a multifaceted operation that took more than three weeks to film, according to 20th Century Fox. Shot at Universal Studios’ “New York Street,” five cameras and 1,500 extras lined the set for days at a time to recreate the holiday festivities (and it was the blistering summer).
Three custom floats were designed for the shoot – the Turbo Man one, alone, was 36 feet long – and the actual UCLA Marching Band performed. Ten thousand pounds of red and gold confetti were shot over the streets and some extras were costumed as local news teams.
In 20th Century Fox’s production notes, director Brian Levant said he “really enjoyed” the entire staging process for the intricate scene. He added:
“I tried to give it a different look and feel, from the choreography to the design of the band costumes and the presentation of the floats; even the color balance of the crowd is something you haven’t seen before. I wanted the film to be like a Christmas present – shiny, colorful and wrapped up all nice and neat.”
Chris Parnell appeared as the snarky toy store employee pre-SNL.
Before joining Saturday Night Live in 1998 and reminding us that all Sundays are meant to be lazy, actor Chris Parnell appeared as the mean-hearted toy store employee who finds Howard’s search for the toy of the season laughable.
After lending his menacingly high-pitched laugh to the scene, his SNL tenure lasted until 2006. More recently, he’s appeared all over TV with guest appearances on 30 Rock and a regular role as the voice of Jerry on Rick and Morty.
Producer Chris Columbus was partially inspired to make the film by his own search for a Buzz Lightyear doll.
Randy Kornfield originally penned the screenplay, but producer Chris Columbus’ own Christmas shopping nightmare helped it get made.
The filmmaker, who directed Mrs. Doubtfire, among other things, said the year before Jingle All the Way, he faced a plight similar to Howard’s after Toy Story hit theaters, according to the production company’s notes.
The coveted Buzz Lightyear doll was nowhere to be found. He shared:
“It’s almost like searching for a Christmas Eve holy grail – and about as easy. I couldn’t find it anywhere. That was when I came to understand the universality of this situation.”
A Detroit high school teacher (briefly) won part of $19 million after claiming the film was his idea.
In 2001, a high school science teacher named Brian Webster, of Detroit, won an impressive six-figures after a U.S. district court found 20th Century Fox guilty of stealing his script.
Years before, the wannabe screenwriter sold his own screenplay, Could This Be Christmas, to Murray Hill Publications Inc. The storyline was similar enough to Jingle All the Way that the company won, in total, $19 million in damages for copyright infringement.
Webster’s cut of the payout, however, was revoked along with the rest of the millions when the judgement was, first downsized, and then later reversed by a federal appeals court a few years later.
The Turbo Man suits were made with a body mold and featured a cooling system.
Daniel Riordan, the actor who played Turbo Man when clips of the fictional program were shown during the movie, said that the tight-fitting (and Iron Man-esque) suit his character wore was created with a body mold.
The process for creating Riordan and Schwarzenegger’s costumes included being molded into wax, which was then cast into rubber.
Riordan also filmed several scenes in the desert, and while the temperatures were blistering, the actor kept cool in his skin-tight suit. He shared during an interview:
“They built the suit in such a way that they had these vests underneath that race car drivers use. They’re very thin membrane vests that are filled with small, plastic tubing that’s tightly coiled, back and forth, and they run cold water through it. So when they run it, it’s like this cold water right up against your body and it was amazing. The sensation was fantastic.”
A special designer was brought on to create the Turbo Man action figure.
A new superhero was created solely for the movie, and obviously, a toy had to be formulated just the same. The film’s production designer Leslie McDonald hired a special “character designer” to conceptualize Turbo Man from the ground up, and to create its action figure component. Tim Flattery, who also worked on films like Batman and Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers, also created designs for each of the fictional show’s characters.
A toy sculpture was then brought in to make the actual props. Packing was created, and voila, Christmas’ hottest commodity.
The actor who played Turbo Man was terrified of heights.
Riordan’s role obviously required some high-flying, jet pack action. Which wouldn’t have been a problem – if he wasn’t afraid of heights, that is.
The star said he was lifted up by a crane around 60 feet into the air, at impressive speeds. The entire process left him “not thrilled.”