Next up on Christian Parallels in the Movies is “Jingle All the Way!” Every 90s child knows this movie. Arnold Schwarzenegger is a workaholic dad who forgets to get his son, Jamie, a Turbo-Man doll. Let’s be honest, watching this movie as an adult was very different than watching it as a kid.
As always, if you have recently seen this movie, feel free to skip to the parallels section.
Let’s just start at the beginning. The movie opens with an awesome 90’s staged episode of Turbo-Man. It honestly reminded me of the early Power Rangers television shows. As the camera pulls back, we see Jamie excitedly watching this television show and quoting Turbo-Man, “You can always count on me.”
Then Jamie and his mom wonder where dad is because they need to leave for Jamie’s big karate class. He must be somewhere really important…
Camera zooms in on a Christmas party at work… however, workaholic Howard is busy taking calls from his favorite customers. After staying a little too long at the office, Howard makes an attempt to make it to Jamie’s karate class. However, everyone knows he won’t make it.
Traffic is horrible, so he decides to drive on the shoulder only to get pulled over by a cop who will play a reoccurring role in the day to come.
He doesn’t make it. When he gets home to his family, he tries to explain to Jamie what happened. Only, Jamie doesn’t care. His dad never does what he says he will do. Eventually, Howard gets Jamie to tell him how to make it up to him. He really wants a Turbo-Man action figure. “You can count on me,” he tells his son.
When talking to his wife, he realizes he was supposed to have bought this action figure weeks ago. And of course, he lies to his wife and tells her he did.
So, the next morning, Christmas Eve, he goes out shopping for this doll. Only to find it sold out everywhere. The employees literally laugh in his face when he asks about the dolls. He ends up making a friend/enemy in the process- a mailman name Myron who is also on a quest to get this toy for his son. In a comical event, these two dads push, shove, throw balls at each other, trip each other with race cars, and so much more.
At the mall, Howard and Myron literally fight for a ball at the toy store which is a chance to get a doll that has doubled in price. Howard chases this chance all through the mall, into the children’s play place, and tries to get a child to give it to him out of his mouth. But moms (thank goodness) start beating Howard with their purses.
Then a shady Santa tells Howard about a place he can get a Turbo- Man doll. He pays $300 for a rip-off non-English speaking Turbo-Man that is falling apart. Somehow, Howard escapes by pretending to be an undercover cop when the place gets busted by the cops.
Defeated, Howard stops by a dinner. And who should pop up? Why Myron. While sitting there, they have the chance to call into a radio station and win a Turbo-Man action figure. He gets through, but Myron wants to get that doll so badly that he rips the cord off the payphone.
The owner tells them that the radio station is right down the street. They race there. Bomb threats the place. Glass is broken. They wreck the cassettes off the wall all while making a real scene. Only to find out, there’s no doll there. It’s a gift certificate.
Howard tries to go home. He runs out of gas, his car gets destroyed, and luck is just not on his side. Then he remembers that his neighbor had one of those toys picked out for his son months ago.
He decides to steal the toy. While he is stealing the toy, he realizes what he is doing and decides to put it back. BUT he ends up almost burning down the neighbor’s house. His wife and neighbor realize what’s going on, and they decide to just go to the Christmas parade together.
Now this neighbor, Ted, obviously has a thing for Howard’s wife, Liz. Though I cannot see why, all the moms are wanting Ted to do the handywork around their house. Ted is a nauseatingly good dad and his son says that is a result of getting divorced.
Anyways, Howard stays behind and wallows while his family goes off to the parade with Ted. Then Howard sees a picture his son made of their family and decides he will make it to the parade. And there’s traffic again. And that cop…again.
Somehow, while running from the cop, he ends up getting the role of Turbo-Man in the parade. Though he has no idea what he is doing, he realizes this is his chance to make Jamie’s day. He chooses Jamie as the child to get the Turbo-Man action figure. But Myron takes over as the villain trying to steal the toy for his son. Of course, Turbo-Man has to save Jamie. Once he does, Jamie is thrilled, but sad that dad missed it. Turbo-Man then reveals himself as Howard.
The cops are taking Myron away in handcuffs as Myron explains he just really wanted that doll for his son. Jamie walks over and gives him the Turbo Man action figure and tells him to give it to his son. When Howard asks why, he said, “Why do I need the toy when I have the real thing at home?”
Howard had tunnel vision. In the beginning he was so focused on work that he missed an important event he was planning to attend for his son. Then he was so focused on getting that Turbo-Man doll that he… well, made a fool out of himself. He made a mess out of everything, committed several crimes, lost hundreds of dollars, got in fights, got in wrecks, ran out of gas, got his vehicle destroyed, and so much more… I know this movie is a satire based on the Cabbage Patch Doll craze, but the truth is- that’s nuts! People literally only cared about getting that doll. They destroyed people, trampled them, got in fights…
This can easily be chalked up to sin. Worldly people are on a worldly quest- to get what they want when they want it at no care of the expense of others.
What if his tunnel vision had been on Jesus? What if he had been so focused on sharing the true meaning of Christmas? People wouldn’t have been trampled; they would have been lifted up. Friendship would have been made and rooted in Christ. Jamie wouldn’t have felt neglected but overwhelmingly loved by both his dad and Heavenly Father. This movie would have been an inspiration for all.
But there’s something else that strikes me hard- Howard was completely uninvolved in his family’s life. He let his son down and didn’t show up for his Karate class or any of the Christmas Eve festivities. He chose to spend Christmas Eve getting a toy he should have already had wrapped under the tree. He lied. He cheated. He stole. He schemed. Yet, in the end, he is the hero because he accidently got the part as Turbo-Man in the Christmas parade.
And that’s our story too. We quite literally make a mess out of everything. The harder we try, the bigger of a mess we make. But because we have Jesus, we get to have a happy ending. We are forgiven. Our slate is wiped clean.
However, it is not a chance or freak accident that you have Jesus. He chose to come down from Heaven and be born.
He chose to live a life fully human and fully divine. He chose to take your punishment and die on the cross.
He chose to rise from the dead and give you hope of eternal life.
It was no accident. And not the work of your scheming. You were bought and paid for with a price- the price of Christ blood.
It is your duty and responsibility to make sure that everyone knows about that gift freely given to you (and them) at the cost of your Savior’s life.
Open that gift and share it!