Jingle All the Way 2 (2014)

When I heard there was a sequel to Jingle All the Way starring Larry the Cable Guy, I kind of hoped it would be a literal sequel, with him taking over Schwarzenegger's part. No such luck: the movie's sort of a spiritual sequel, borrowing elements from the premise and using them to tell a new crappy story.

Before I go on, I want to state that I found the experience of watching this extremely unpleasant. That being said, I'm forced to concede that this was actually a better movie than the original. Granted, that is an incredibly low bar to clear, but I was somewhat still surprised.

Not pleasantly surprised though: I dislike Larry the Cable Guy's shtick and was rooting against this movie. I'd have rather a scenario where I could simply say it was an abysmal pile of idiotic crap, as opposed to a nuanced pile of mediocre crap. But we can't get everything we want for Christmas.

Larry the Cable Guy plays a divorced father named, "Larry". I'm just going to assume there's a rider in his contract stipulating that all his live-action characters are named "Larry". At any rate, Larry is a deadbeat loser, though he has a fairly good relationship with his daughter, Noel.

And suddenly, "Larry" doesn't seem like all that dumb of a name anymore.

Only he feels like that relationship is being threatened by Noel's new step-father, Victor, who is of course comically rich. This makes much more sense than the revelation that Victor feels equally threatened by his new step-daughter's relationship with Larry, who lives in a trailer.

For fifteen minutes or so, Larry attempts to compete with Victor in a series of painfully excessive gags designed to deliver cheap physical comedy routines. Larry is electrocuted wiring his own Christmas lights, winds up flocked at a Christmas tree lot, and is doused with water attempting to bring a truckload of snow down from the mountains: high comedy, this is not.

Obviously, if this is truly a "Jingle All the Way" installment, there's something missing, and that comes when Larry gets a hold of his daughter's letter to Santa. He misreads it as saying that she wants a talking stuffed bear, which is that year's top toy.

Victor learns about his goal by sending his head of security to spy on Larry, and tasks the security expert to secretly collect every one of the bears in town, guaranteeing that he'll be the one to fulfill the girl's Christmas wish. This leads to another series of moronic sequences and mishaps no one should ever have to sit through. Needless to say, Larry fails to acquire the bear through normal means.

To the movie's credit, they actually covered their bases well. The most obvious objections you're thinking of - Ebay and trying the next town over - were addressed in the movie. Maybe not sufficiently, but they at least acknowledged the possibilities.

There's a lot this movie does wrong, but I feel obligated to admit what it does right. Bucking tradition, this doesn't ultimately make Victor into a 2-dimensional villain. He goes overboard in his attempt to one-up Larry, but he's never portrayed as an unfit or uncaring father. On the contrary, the movie goes out of its way to establish that he loves Noel and wants to give her a great Christmas. Likewise, there was a fairly well thought out third act twist when the rest of the town discovered Victor had bought up the town's entire supply of the year's most coveted gift.

The resolution was sappy, of course. Also, it involved a sequence where Larry and Victor have a heart-to-heart in which both of them made a point of telling the other that they'd never taken a hand-out in their life, just in case you were confused as to which half of the political spectrum Larry the Cable Guy's movies are being marketed towards.

Despite being a bad movie, it's somewhat impressive how much thought went into the script, at least compared with other holiday movies out there. They didn't succeed in making a good movie, but I had the distinct impression they actually tried. That counts for something, right?

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