Thursday, December 26, 2013

Arnold 24: End of Days and Jingle All the Way

Remember that time I told you about how I watched 5 Arnold movies in a weekend?  Yeah you do.  This past Saturday included an early morning viewing of 1999's End of Days as I shook off the previous night's holiday party followed by 1996's festive classic Jingle All the Way before popping in newly remastered The Terminator from 1984 later while cleaning up the house.

End of Days brings two memories to mind: the first being the breakfast shake Arnold puts together when his character; a sloppy and suicidal ex-cop working private security, is introduced.  It contains no less than coffee, leftover Chinese food, a piece of pizza picked up off the floor, Pepto Bismol and beer.  The second memory being that when EOD was released, it was a bit of a question mark as Arnold hadn't headlined a movie in 3 years and underwent heart surgery in the interim.  Arnie came back a bit haggard compared to his usual clean cut appearances as EOD's Jericho Cane is a man without hope and barely holding on when he comes across the bizarre case of Satan coming to NY looking for a wife.

Hitting screens during the Thanksgiving rush, Days wasn't quite the welcome back party Ah-nuld expected and was the start of his box office decline as 2000's The 6th Day and 2002's Collateral Damage would ring in middling returns.  EOD still managed to land in the Top 20 Worldwide grossing films of the year with a tally of over $200 million.  At the helm was Peter Hyams, who had experienced a bit of a career resurgence thanks to Jean-Claude Van Damme's attempts to branch out beyond simple martial arts fare in 1994's Timecop and 1995's Sudden Death.  Arnold's trusted friend James Cameron recommended Hyams for the job which turned out not to be quite as successful a pairing.  According to Arnold, Hyams didn't take many of his suggestions and bashed Cameron's filmmaking style which forever branded him a moron in the eyes of The Oak.

Much more enjoyable is Arnold's family Christmas flick, Jingle All the Way.  I've always loved this movie and tend to watch it frequently as it just cracks me up.  Jingle tells the story of hard working mattress salesman Howard Langston who always seems to miss out on his son Jamie's growing up.  Determined to make it up to him, Howie goes off in search of the season's hottest toy, Turbo Man.  Crowd trampling, unchecked capitalism, counterfeit toy rings, Mall of America, animatronic reindeer, exploding mail and mother fudging karate hijinks ensues.  The flick boasts an impressive credit list on and off screen as producer Chris Columbus brought us Home Alone, Gremlins, Mrs. Doubtfire and would later work on Harry Potter while director Bryan Levant was fresh from Beethoven and The Flinstones.

The cast is also great and filled with familiar faces like Sinbad, Rita Wilson (Tom Hanx's wife), Phil Hartman ("Oh these cookies!"), James Belushi, The Big Show, Chris Parnell, Booger himself Curtis Armstrong and Robert Conrad from TV's The Wild, Wild West.  Also a Thanksgiving release, Jingle also got caught up in the holiday shuffle, grossing less than Arnold's previous comedic attempts Twins and Kindergarten Cop but doing much better than his "man getting pregnant" flick Junior.  The Oak hasn't headlined a comedy since which is a huge loss because he is hilarious.  HILARIOUS.

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