It's hard to believe that 2014 marks 18 years since Jingle All the Way, the heartwarming tale of a father just trying to buy his son a Turboman doll on Christmas Eve, exploded across the silver screen.
With scenes shot in the Mall of America and downtown Minneapolis, as well as references to KQRS and other local touchstones, it's a great snapshot of what the city looked like in the mid-'90s. It's also considered one of the top three projects that Sinbad and Phil Hartman worked together on, as well as probably Jake Lloyd's best motion picture performance.
While it notoriously didn't receive a single mention in star Arnold Schwarzenegger's autobiography, we can only assume the snubbing was out of protest for how the film has been altered for its current DVD release. When you sit around the warm holiday television to watch this seasonal classic, demand the genuine article!
It's true, if you own the film on DVD or Blu-Ray, you're only really Jingle part-of-the-way. Check the front cover and notice the "Family Fun Edition." While it deceptively makes it look like the movie maybe has extras or some games for the kids or some additional bonus that would be "Fun" for the "Family" to see, what it really means is that they've messed with the film's music and are trying to pass the savings on to you, the customer.
So, what's different about Jingle All the Way? Well, the music swap here is a bit peculiar. Brian Setzer Orchestra's rendition of "Jingle Bells" that so perfectly propelled the montage of dashing through the stores to find Turboman dolls has been not just removed, but instead plays during the famous fight with Jim Belushi, the Big Show, and all the black-market Santas.
There's a few other swaps in the film, replacing the familiar music with a slower recording of "The Christmas Song," which, while it may at first seem like a more artistic choice, kind of kills the madcap fun energy of the film.
It's a weird phenomenon in the post-DVD digital streaming age where it's getting harder and harder to find movies with the director's original vision when it comes to their work's music.
While these changes may go unnoticed by some audiences, the fact that you're reading a music publication right now indicates things like "sounds" and "music" matter to you. Are you a fan of '90s record store comedy Empire Records?
Did you know that the version you fell in love with that had Rex Manning as an unrepentant jerk is no longer available to entrance new audiences and, instead, the "Special Remix Edition" on store shelves alters his scenes to make him a sympathetic character and swaps out much of the music you first fell in love with?
But at least Jingle All the Way and Empire Records hid behind the guise of "(Insert Patronizing Deceptive Title)...Editions" to tip off skeptical consumers that something was up. Have you seen the beloved When Harry Met Sally lately?
By lately, I mean on a recent medium like Amazon's various "Rent" services? For a film so driven by music, especially in the final 15 minutes, there's a lot changed. Bing Crosby's "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" is swapped out for what has to be a public domain recording of "O Tannenbaum." These swaps continue through the final axing of Sinatra's "It Had to Be You" at the film's concluding moment-I'm-not-going-to-spoil, but would be spoiled in another way for you regardless as some generic session playing is heard instead.
This month, Jingle All the Way 2 hits DVD shelves, a sequel that doesn't really have much to do with the original at all. Shot in British Columbia, Canada (suburb of Minnesota), it follows two parents (one played by Larry the Cable Guy) trying to get the most cherished toy for their child. While there isn't as much licensed music in this new Jingle, one can hope the families it's delighting this holiday season have the option to view it again in a few decades and cherish it in the original unaltered way they first experienced it.
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