A 1996 Christmas film starring Arnold Schwarzenegger as Howard Langston, a father who is a constant disappointment to his son Jamie (Jake Lloyd). After missing his son's karate practice yet again, to compensate for this own Bumbling Dad nature, Howard decides he is going to get Jamie the toy he really wants for Christmas: A Turbo Man action figure. Unfortunately, the Turbo Man action figure is the hot toy of the season and is in short supply, and Howard has waited until Christmas Eve before trying to find one. Subsequently, he finds himself competing with crazed mailman Myron Larabee (Sinbad) and massive crowds of other parents to get the same toy. What follows is a comedy of errors as both men race to get the toy.The film was a modest box office hit, earning $129,832,389 in the worldwide market. With $60,592,389 in the United States market alone, it was the 23rd most successful film of its year. Critically, it was given a mediocre reception by the media, even earning a Golden Raspberry nomination for its director Brian Levant; it subsequently became a Running Gag on Late Night with Conan O'Brien when "Arnold" made appearances via Synchro-Vox (he always found an opportunity to bring it up as an "all-time Christmas classic," despite it being completely irrelevant to the matter at hand). However, it still reruns regularly on Disney-owned stations such as ABC Family, and has since become a TV holiday staple. Some are even starting to regard it as a "classic" holiday film, despite its flaws.It is also the last comedic role for Ah-nold, and one of the last for Sinbad. The film is based on the holiday crazes for both Cabbage Patch Kids dolls and Mighty Morphin Power Ranger toys.
Broken Ace: He doesn't really give a crap about his kid and just uses him as bait to pick up women.
All Part of the Show: The climactic confrontation pits Howard as Turbo Man against Myron as Turbo Man's nemesis Dementor in a mock battle during the Christmas parade. The danger turns real as Howard's son Jamie gets involved, and ends up hanging by his fingers off the top of a building. Subverted by Howard's wife Liz, who realizes her son isn't supposed to be a part of this, and the cops who arrest Myron after the fact.
Since Myron was bound with cheap-looking rope instead of actual handcuffs, with his hands tied in front of him rather than behind, it suggests that he isn't really being arrested; Dementor's "capture" could have been the show's intended climax. His own Paper-Thin Disguise must have kept the officers from recognizing him as the mailman bomber, or else he would have gotten far more severe treatment.
Ash Face: The Jerkass motorcycle cop after accidentally setting off Myron's mail-bomb.
Bavarian Fire Drill: Howard uses a toy police badge to pretend to be an undercover cop when the police raid the Santa Claus toy counterfeiting operation.
Berserk Button: When Howard finally attacks this cardboard Turbo Man model in a store, after having spent a long time in so many stores trying to find one for his son with no luck. He first punches it, and it hits him on the back of the head as he turns around, causing him to get even more irate enough to grab it and tear it to shreds.
Over this entire Turbo Man issue, Howard also finally loses it with his son, Jamie over the phone at one point when Jamie quotes something Turbo Man said, failing to realize that Jamie is well unaware of what hell he has been through that whole day with what he has been all over trying to find him. From his censuring tirade, he also ends up hitting Jamie's Berserk Button because of the way we see Jamie respond right back to him before slamming the phone on him, even though Howard tries to apologize just after. All leading to Howard having much regret.
Liz hits Ted over the head with a thermos of eggnog for hitting on her in attempt to making her cheat on Howard.
Butt Monkey: Sweet lord, Howard. This movie could be renamed "The Worst Christmas Eve Ever."
Myron gets his share of being one as well.
The Motorcycle Cop also is on a count of always falling victim to Howard and Myron.
The Cameo: Yeardley Smith, who was the voice of Lisa Simpson, appears in an extended scene as a woman in a fur coat with the shopping bag that Howard thinks has the last Turbo Man sale in which he confronts and asks to buy it from who even offers to give him her phone number, however, when thinking that he has some kind of a crush on her.
Curse Cut Short: Unusual variation: Howard says "That son of a..." at one point, but nothing actually prevents him from completing the epithet.
Deadpan Snarker: Howard and the Department Store Santa (played by James Belushi).
Description Cut: Subverted. Liz tell Jamie that Howard won't be late; he's just working really hard. Cut to the mattress factory where Howard works, where a Christmas party is taking place...but then the camera pans to Howard, who is indeed working hard in his office.
Exact Words: When Howard and Myron fight over who got to the radio station first with the right quiz answer:
DJ: Are you two under the impression that I have a Turbo Man here in the studio? Howard: Yeah. Myron: That's what you said on the radio! DJ: NO NO NO. What I actually said was that whoever won would get a Turbo Man eventually. (chuckles) You see, what we have here... is a gift certificate. (Howard and Myron look pissed)
Expy: Turbo Man is a thinly disguised parody of Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers, of which there was a similar holiday toy craze in the early 1990s that inspired the film.
Freudian Excuse: Myron has become a massive cynic and Jerkass concerning the holidays because not only did he have a pretty bad home life growing up, but his wife cheated on him and left him, taking custody of his only son with her. Because of this, he's grown desperate to give his son a good Christmas and is willing to go to insane lengths to do it.
Heel Realization: Howard has one just as he is about to steal the Turbo Man doll that Ted plans to give to his son.
Hello Again Officer: One of the best examples of this trope, ever. Getting pulled over by a cop, then accidentally running over the cop's motorcycle, spilling his coffee...then there's the bus, and a bomb, and well...
Officer: You just can't stay out of trouble, can you?
Heroic Rematch: Howard and Myron battling for a Turbo Man toy meant to be a giveaway at the Christmas Parade, dressed as Turbo Man and Dementor.
Howard facing off against Ted's reindeer when he breaks into Ted's house to steal the Turbo Man doll he bought for his son.
The two toy store employees who mock Howard first, then mock both him and Myron from Howard asking them if there is any possible left over Turbo Man dolls that they may have available in which they are after in the last moment. Following everybody in that same store who follows along with the mockery. Including all of the other toy store employees after that in time passing scenes who you see doing the same.
Mistaken for Pedophile: Howard chases a little girl who has a raffle ball that bounced away from the store. When he finally catches up with her and wants to trade balls, he is repeatedly hit by numerous mothers' purses and called "pervert."
Howard: I'm not a pervert! I was just looking for Turbo Man doll!
Non-Fatal Explosions: The bomb didn't badly hurt any of the police officers, including the one who was holding it when it blows up.
Not So Different: Howard and Myron are both very similar in their goals and motivations. The difference is that, while Howard's still got a pretty good life, Myron had a fairly difficult life and has become a cynic because of it.
Same can be said about Myron and Jamie, as they both don't like being disappointed by the parental figures in their life. There was even an Imagine Spot Howard has about the matter.
Oh Crap: Howard, twice. First finding out at the last moment that the Turbo Man dolls are most likely sold out, and second in the very end after managing to fulfill Jamie's Christmas wish, when he finds out that he didn't get anything for Liz.
Paper-Thin Disguise: Howard's Turbo Man mask consists of a transparent yellow visor, yet neither his son nor his wife recognize him until he takes off the helmet. Moreover, they should easily recognize his voice, but they don't.
Earlier in the film, when the mall Santa's black market counterfeit toy operation is raided by police while Howard is there, he prevents himself from being arrested by holding up a toy police badge and claiming that he is an undercover cop. The police chief overseeing the raid buys it and lets Howard go.
The Scrappy: Turbo Man's sidekick Booster is an In-Universe example. The kid fans hate Booster so much that they attack the guy who wears Booster's costume at the parade.
Myron: You know what? Nobody likes you, Booster!
Additionally, while Turbo Man action figures were in such short supply that people were fighting over the few available, all toy stores were depicted as having a surplus of Booster dolls. When one toy store clerk pointed this out over a loudspeaker, the crowd reacted with boos and jeers and Myron shouting, "We don't want that! We don't want any!!"
Nostalgia Critic: Fuck Booster! Give me the Turbo Man, you girly man!
Television Geography: KQRS is not located in downtown Minneapolis, but Golden Valley instead.note Though that's only a difference of a few miles. Additionally, Mickey's Diner is located in downtown St. Paul, not Minneapolis. What this basically means is that Howard pushed his broken-down van for upwards of ten miles.
Averted with the call signs of the radio stations: since the Twin Cities straddle the Mississippi, some of their stations begin with a K and others with a W.note The initial letter doesn't always correspond to which side of the Mississippi either the transmitter or the studio is located in.
Throw the Dog a Bone: In the end, Howard finally manages to get Jamie a Turbo Man action figure after all he's been through. When they see Myron get taken away by the cops, Jamie gets compassionate and decides to give him the toy instead so Myron can give it to his son, Jamie's reasoning being that he doesn't really need a Turbo Man doll when his own Dad is Turbo Man.
Title Drop: Inverted. The title comes, of course, from "Jingle Bells," which occurs twice in the movie.
Truth In Cinema: At the same time that the film was in theaters (the 1996 Christmas season), there was a massive craze for the Tickle Me Elmo doll. There were numerous reported incidents of crazed parents in massive crowds trampling and fighting each other to buy the doll as a Christmas gift for their kids, in scenes not too different than the films' depictions of massive crowds of parents vying for Turbo Man dolls. Additionally, the film depicts a toy store clerk getting trampled as a crowd makes their way into the store after they first open; On December 14, 1996, a Canadian Wal-Mart employee was trampled and severely injured after a crowd spotted him handling a box of Tickle Me Elmo dolls.
Also, the Power Ranger toys, which Turbo Man parodies. At the time the Power Ranger series began, no one had ever seen anything like it, and there was a general consensus that it would fail miserably. As a result, most of the major retailers didn't bother with much of the merchandise, which was bought up by smaller, independent retailers instead. Hence, when the show became a hit, stores were woefully understocked, leading to a huge craze during the holidays. To this day, the incident appears in marketing textbooks to illustrate issues of supply and demand.
Tragic Villain: Myron - his behavior and descent into madness is a direct result of being cuckolded by his wife, lacking a meaningful relationship with his own father, and letting down his son one too many times as Howard did.