For some it’s A CHRISTMAS STORY. For others, IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE or WHITE CHRISTMAS. For me, the undisputed greatest Holiday film of all-time is the 1996 Christmas classic, JINGLE ALL THE WAY – a film that I’ve mentioned in nearly 30 articles on this site alone. The reasons behind my affection for the film are many (a “perfect storm” of elements), so when the news arrived that Twentieth Century Fox and WWE Studios were going into production on a belated sequel, I covered the announcement with cautious optimism. For me, the thought of a JINGLE ALL THE WAY 2 was akin to messing with the legacy of what I’d argue to be the CITIZEN KANE of Christmas films, so when the out-of-nowhere opportunity to visit the Vancouver set came along, I couldn’t pass it up. In March, I found myself standing alongside Larry the Cable Guy, WWE Superstar Santino Marella and director Alex Zamm (THE LITTLE RASCALS SAVE THE DAY) on the set of JINGLE ALL THE WAY 2. Thousands of miles from Rock Father HQ, I was back inside a world of movie magic that I’d been missing – a member of the FHE Insiders crew.
1996: The first film, which starred Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sinbad, was released on November 22, 1996, and followed the tale of two dads hunting for the season’s hottest toy for their kids – a Turbo Man action figure. Being a big kid and a collector of hard-to-find STAR WARS figures myself, that was a solid hook – but I’m also huge into the Holiday season, and a big fan of Christmas movies in general. But 1996 was different, as JINGLE ALL THE WAY had an interesting parallel to where my life was at the time… I was a manager at Walmart, and 1996 was the year that a little toy called Tickle Me Elmo was released. That laughing sales clerk played by later SNL-alum Chris Parnell? Man, did I feel for that guy as I will never forget Black Friday of that year – a day that I, along with a few other sizable guys stood guard between the toy and garden departments as a rush of customers ran toward us seconds after the doors had been opened. Those epic battles for Elmo that you’ve all heard of? I was right there on the battlefield, a soldier fighting to hold the balance between family and commerce.
Beyond my real-life experiences, JINGLE ALL THE WAY was just plain good. Arnie and Sinbad were fantastic on-screen adversaries, THE BRIAN SETZER ORCHESTRA rocked the soundtrack with a pair of songs that would inspire their own full-length Christmas albums and a series of successful holiday tours, and Turbo Man would forever become one of the most iconic fictional toys ever created (then made for real by Tiger Toys as a Walmart exclusive). Despite all the frenzied shopping and toy-fueled goodness, the real message was one of family – a couple of dads working to do right by their kids.
2014: JINGLE ALL THE WAY 2 carries on the spirit of the first film, not a sequel but a follow-up that could perhaps (in my own speculation) open the door for future JINGLE adventures focusing on different families during the holiday season. While Schwarzenegger and Sinbad were rivals in the first JINGLE, Larry and Santino (as Claude) are best friends, with Marella providing much-needed backup as Larry takes on Victor Baxter (played by Brian Stepanek) – the new stepdad to Larry’s daughter, Noel (played by Kennedi Clements of the forthcoming POLTERGEIST remake). It’s Victor and Larry that are on-screen rivals, and while Larry has Claude, Baxter has the sinister Welling (played by Eric Breker).
Harrison Bear: On the set of JINGLE ALL THE WAY 2 (JATW2), we got up close and personal with the Harrison Bear – a ‘MacGuffin’ of sorts – that becomes the sought-after must-have toy of the year. The production design crew did a nice job with the packaging, working little things like “Zammtastic Toys” (Director Alex Zamm voices Harrison Bear) into the detail – nuances that most of the audience will never see. While Harrison proper isn’t for sale anywhere, you can get a miniature version packed with a Walmart-exclusive edition of the DVD.
During my three-day set visit, I was able to check out a few scenes being filmed – including those at a pair of toy stores that would later be featured in a montage of Larry on the hunt with Welling always a few steps ahead. Additionally, our group watched as young Kennedi Clements and Larry performed a scene in an ice fishing shack that was built on a makeshift soundstage inside a gutted former HSBC bank location.
Making Snow: Being just outside the snowy season (though I’m told Vancouver doesn’t get a ton of it), there was a need for some of the fake stuff, so I tucked in with the FX crew for a few while they whipped up a batch. While most of what they were making was produced using “Instant Snow Polymer” from the local Thomas FX Group (dry powder that expands to 40x in volume), they have a backup plan should they need more: diapers, and a lot of them. The filling inside can expand to 10x mass (they tell me that Huggies is the best brand for this), but the downside is that it’s not the most environmentally-conscious choice.
Movie magic aside, Dan Whitney (Larry the Cable Guy) and Anthony Carelli (Santino Marella) mirror some of the cinematic antics of the JINGLE series in that they’re a couple of dads working to do right by their kids. More on that when my coverage continues.
Stay tuned for Part 2…
THE ROCK FATHER is both a member of the Fox Home Entertainment Insiders and a WWE Brand Ambassador. His trip to the set of JINGLE ALL THE WAY 2 was all-expenses paid by Twentieth Century Fox.