Friday 13 November 2020

Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey (Movie Review)

The holidays have gradually become a good time for musicals, with films like La La Land and The Greatest Showman managing to find considerable success over the course of their respective holidays, barring of course last year's Cats, which was... different. And the only thing surer than a musical released in the lead up to the holidays these days is an actual holiday-themed musical.

Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey is one such musical, a film that seems tailored-made for the needs of the forthcoming holidays, in a year that has been largely devoid of any kind of cheers. It is actually the third holiday-themed film by writer and director, David E. Talbert, following his work on both Almost Christmas and El Camino Christmas. His latest film joins the latter on Netflix, where it made its debut earlier today.

The movie centers upon a genius toy maker named Jeronicus Jangle (Forest Whitaker), whose inventions were once the talk of the town, bringing joy to all the children and their parents alike every Christmas. But after his latest invention, a talking doll named Don Juan Diego (Ricky Martin) gets stolen by his apprentice, Gustafson (Keegan-Michael Key), along with his book of ideas, Jeronicus loses everything he'd worked for.

Thirty years later, he is now a joyless recluse working as a pawnbroker, having lost all desire to invent anything new. When the bank that has been financing his business threatens to close it down due to the lack of new inventions, he is forced to either come up with the money he owes them before Christmas, or invent something new. But after his granddaughter, Journey (Madalen Mills), shows up out of the blue to spend the days leading up to Christmas with him at the pawn shop, she'd help reignite his love of invention as they uncover what is possibly his greatest invention yet.

Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey has all the essential ingredients for a solid Christmas musical. It is filled with musical numbers, most of which are instantly memorable and singalong-worthy. The choreography in these sequences were well done and the overall production shines above what you would expect from a mid-tier Netflix movie. The special effects were a bit of a mixed bag though, with some of it being quite impressive while others were far from so.

That said, the movie is clearly geared more towards kids, but adults shouldn't be left out of the fun either. Some measure of suspension of disbelief is required of course, in order to fully buy into its tale of magic and wonder. I can easily see kids eating this stuff up over the holidays, so brace yourself for some repeat viewings if you're an adult that happens to have little ones of your own.

As far as the acting is concerned, Forest Whitaker delivers another stellar performance, and even Keegan-Michael Key was more than adequate as the bumbling villain of the film. Likewise, the child actors in the film were remarkable, helping to sell the onscreen magic without the movie ever becoming too cloying or saccharine. The songs in the movie also offer a nice mix of genres that incorporates everything from pop, urban and even world music. 

All that is to say that Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey should be able to please all but the most stonehearted of viewers, with all its Christmas cheer and magical wonder. And should you happen to need even more of that this holiday, then you can be rest assured that it is just one of several holiday-themed movies I would be reviewing in the lead up to Christmas.

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