Less Turbo Man, more Cable Guy.
Arnold Schwarzenegger has many iconic lines: “I’ll be back”, “You’re fired”, “It’s not a tumour”. But a personal favourite is easily from 1996’s seasonal classic Jingle All The Way: “Put the cookie down!”. By no means a cinematic achievement but an undeniably immensely satisfying festive romp, it’s fondly looked back on over 20 years later. In 2014, to a very small target audience, a sequel was released starring Larry the Cable Guy. Here’s the question; festive goldie, or jobbie?
Larry the Cable Guy goes up against his former wife’s new husband Victor (Brian Stepanek) to get his daughter (Kennedi Clements) the ultimate Christmas toy – a Harrison talking bear.
What is a pleasant surprise is that this isn’t necessarily a straight up rehash of the original. Larry, unlike Schwarzenegger’s character is a fantastic father – perhaps a bit irresponsible at times, but you really do route for him from the beginning. Larry’s performance is commendably oddball, embracing his wackiness and general ditziness with glee and ease. It’s not deserving of any awards, obviously, but it’s terrifically inoffensive which in a festive sequel of this calibre, is a godsend.
Performances across the board are pretty terrible aside from Larry and Stepanek (who you’ll remember from Suite Life of Zack and Cody if you’re young enough). Clements, albeit she is a young child, is clearly trying to get to the end of every scene, and every other cast member is either so insignificant or lazily portrayed (Larry’s best friend is utterly abysmal), you’ll not care enough to remember them by the credits.
At a brisk 93 minutes, it doesn’t overstay its welcome. That being said, not all of the frankly outlandish plot developments can be allowed a pass. At the core of the narrative, Stepanek’s character is trying to purchase every single bear in town so Larry can’t get one. Makes sense right? However, to think that numerous shops wouldn’t have some sort of limit on purchasing, especially in this day and age, is ludicrous. As such, the film is built on a foundation as strong as a bowl of cranberry sauce.
The set pieces are nowhere near as memorable as the wildly silly delights found in the 1996 fun-fest, a distinct lack of Schwarzenegger declaring that it’s “Turbo time” being an obvious factor. Combined with overenthusiastic villainy or rather, just over-enthusiasm, each raucous set-piece doesn’t have that festive charm. One scene sees Larry dressing up as a hobo in a bid to get a toy, which doesn’t connect in the same hilarious way as Schwarzenegger chasing a young boy through a shopping centre for that special ball. There are a few loving nods to the classic, but this does actually have enough solidarity to call it a sequel rather than a remake. Is it another classic in the making? Absolutely not, but is it a serviceable xmas comedy fit for 3 o’clock background viewing on a cold afternoon? I think so.