I SHOULD preface this review by telling you all I am a wrestling fan; specifically, a fan of WWE. This, however, does not in any way mean I am a fan of WWE Films. It’s not that they make bad films, it’s that… actually no, it is that they make bad films. Not just poorly made, but cynically cashing in on their own ‘success’ and other existing franchises in no need of revival.
It seems that WWE Films exists solely to keep wrestlers in business when they’re bored of wrestling because, frankly, who in the world, beyond Randy Orton and Vince McMahon, actually wanted a sequel to 12 Rounds? Come to think, who, beyond John Cena and Vince MchMahon, wanted 12 Rounds? Having mentioned franchises in no need of revival, we come to Jingle All the Way 2, a film in no need of a sequel.
You may guess, if you don’t already know, that when I tell you that, much like 90 percent of WWE films, this is Straight-to-DVD. Arnold Schwarzenegger doesn’t return. Instead, we get Larry the Cable Guy. If you aren’t aware of Larry the Cable Guy, he’s the American equivalent of Al Murray’s pub landlord character but trapped in some kind of perspective loop where he’s lost sight of the end of the character and the beginning of himself.
Larry stars as ‘Larry’, a part time trucker who wants to do right by his daughter after a divorce. I have no idea why. His daughter is irritating. Even by film children, she is terrible. No, seriously, she’s the worst. His ex-wife is now married to a cardboard box merchant millionaire (apparently you can make millions by selling boxes) and his best friend is former wrestler Santino Marella. I’m leaving mentions of him here as he has no character traits, no plot purpose, no funny lines; he is almost literally just there to justify WWE paying for this.
Larry intercepts a letter to Santa from his daughter stating she wants her family “to get Herasone”. The over-enthusiastic man at the toy shop thinks “Herasone” must be Harrison, a talking bear with a voice that sounds like Barney the Dinosaur if he were satanically possessed that is insanely popular yet still available everywhere. This is important, as evil box merchant stepdad enlists his second in command to buy every bear in town. Every single fucking bear. Were you looking forward to a fucking bear-buying montage? Good, because you’re stuck with one now.
So then we get to the ‘hi-jinks’ phase of this thing. Larry blows himself up. Hilarious. Larry tries to import snow but it turns to water. Funny. Larry dresses as a homeless man to get a bear, meets an ex who goes to church, ends up fighting a huckster child outside church and then the church people attack him. Laugh riot.
If you haven’t worked out by now, I hated this film. I’m not mad keen on the original anyway but, in terms of wrestler Christmas films, this makes Santa with Muscles look entertaining. I’m going to save you a lot of effort. You don’t have to watch the dream sequence with Larry the Cable Bear or the sub plot with the criminal toy ring or the ten thousand dollar norwegian tree of “God why did I do this to myself?”.
At the end of the movie, Daughter Child’s wish for her family to get “herasone” was for her family, “together as one”. How sweet! How charming! How long did Larry waste trying to get a fucking bear she neither wants nor gives even a singular shit about? I’m not saying the ending’s an anticlimax but, actually, no, I am saying it’s an anticlimax. I am also aware I used that same joke set-up earlier but, hey, guess what? By repeating it, I have two more punchlines than this film.
Now, it’s Christmas time and this review is coming out on my birthday, so I’m going to try to leave this on a positive note. Larry the Cable Guy, completely obnoxious as he is, has a certain confidence as a leading man that makes you think that, if he were real for even a single moment, he might not be completely unbearable. This is clearly Larry’s film; not in the sense that he owns the role, but that everyone else is given one-note characters and gives one-note performances. Larry is the only one to present a performance.
It’s a painful, aggravating performance, but it is a performance. I will also say that the first half of the film moves at a brisk enough pace that it can be enjoyable in the same way that watching a drunk fall over can be funny at first, but then you just feel guilty for even considering it funny. I never expected to like this film but I hoped it at least wouldn’t make me hate the holidays. This is a film with no real warmth, no real humour and no real affection for a holiday that is based on giving presents and eating; two things that most sensible people love.
We here at Film Torments can excuse a bad film. A lot of films try to be good and end up failing, but this doesn’t feel like they care. It’s a quick buck at the expense of joy or resolution. It’s like opening a present to find a cheap copy of a gift you got years before and didn’t really want then.
In short, it’s Christmas. Treat yourself to a good Christmas film, maybe Die Hard, Lethal Weapon, The Muppet Christmas Carol, but do yourself a favour and don’t watch this. Don’t even watch it ironically. Don’t give WWE Films the joy of knowing they’ve created a cult classic. Let this film disappear into a landfill and be forgotten. It isn’t even worth your time and frankly, you deserve a Merry Christmas. In even shorter, go fuck yourself WWE Films.