By Richard Winters
My Rating: 6 out of 10
4-Word Review: He needs Turbo man.
Howard (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is a middle-aged father who finds that the long hours at his job is preventing him from attending some events that his young son Jake (Jamie Langston) is in including his karate exposition. This makes Howard feel bad and he tries to go to every effort to attain the much wanted Turbo Man action figure to give to Jamie for Christmas. Unfortunately every store is sold out of them and he must trek across the Twin Cities to find some place that might have them while competing with a mailman named Myron (Sinbad) who is on the same mission.
The film is energetic and engaging and the segment where Howard runs all through the Mall of America while chasing after a small bouncing ball is funny. The part where he kicks the burning head of a wise man statue out the window that sends carolers screaming and running for cover had me laughing-out-loud. I also liked the scene where he has to take on a roomful of bad guy santas with a giant plastic candy cane. One of the santas is so huge that he dwarfs Arnie and makes him look puny, which is hard to believe but true.
The climatic sequence done during a parade in which Howard and Myron dress up in costume to resemble the Turbo Man as well as his arch enemy and continue to battle each other for the toy is quite lively. Watching Howard flying around the Minneapolis skyscrapers while wearing a turbo charged jetpack is fun, but completely implausible that a costume to be worn at a parade would ever be equipped with something like that. It is also hard to believe that Jamie wouldn’t recognize his own father even if he is wearing a costume especially when he continues to speak in his very distinct Austrian accent.
Sinbad with his engaging personality is good in support. However, the scene where he is seen dumping letters out of his mail bag in order to keep up with Howard while running down a street is a federal offence and would most certainly get him terminated and even given some jail time and since he did it in broad daylight in front of others it could have easily gotten reported.
Langston as the kid is cute, but there are those from the old-school who think that a young child slamming a door in the face of a parent even if he is mad at him is quite rude and out-of-line. Also, being upset with his father because he doesn’t attend some of his events due to working hard at his job isn’t really fair. Becoming enslaved to a demanding job to keep up a cushy suburban existence is a plague of most fathers and if the Dad didn’t do it they might lose that nice house and be out on the street and I’m sure the borderline entitled kid would dislike that even more.
Robert Conrad is great in support as a tough-guy-like cop who is constantly having hilarious confrontations with Howard. Watching him give Howard a sobriety test is ironic since Conrad’s real-life car accident that he had while intoxicated, which occurred just a little after doing this essentially ended his acting career.
Phil Hartman is always good as a slimy character and in this case it is as the lecherous next-door-neighbor, but having him constantly speak his lines like he is a spokesman in a TV commercial becomes irritating. Harvey Korman and Laraine Newman appear in very small roles near the beginning and barely have any speaking lines, which made me wonder why they would even bother to appear at all.
The one-joke premise gets stretched about as far as it can go, but manages to come up with enough different scenarios to keep it feeling like it is evolving. The humor veers a bit too much to the cartoonish and although I liked the on-location shooting done for the most part in Minnesota I felt they didn’t take advantage of the Mall of America locale enough and more could have done more with it. The closing credits take an amazing 7 minutes off the runtime, but it is worth it to stick through them because there in one last amusing bit at the very, very end.
My Rating: 6 out of 10
Released: November 16, 1996
Runtime: 1Hour 29Minutes
Director: Brian Levant
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Available: VHS, DVD, Blu-ray