Another day, another Netflix original movie. Amirite? The speed at which they churn these things out is actually insane, but we all know that sometimes their pace means they skimp on quality. Let’s see how this one fares in both Netflix and Christmas circles.
Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey definitely has kids as its target audience, but that shouldn’t stop it from being a good movie. Starring Forest Whitaker as Jeronicus Jangle, an inventor and toymaker who has fallen into the pits of sadness. When his granddaughter intervenes, magic comes into play, and a mystical invention promises to change their lives forever. Of course, there are villains and evil forces at play that don’t make the journey altogether smooth-sailing.
No one informed me that Jingle Jangle was a musical, and I would never slander Dolly Parton’s name, but the composition in this movie is much better than Christmas On The Square, particularly during the snowball fight which stars some ferociously talented kids who can bust a move like no one’s business. Just when I thought it had Greatest Showman vibes, I did a quick Google search to find that this movie has the same composer as the former. What I’m saying is, I’m a musical genius. (Kidding, of course. Anyone with even the slightest ear for music would be able to spot the similarities.)
I can’t actually think of another kids’ Christmas film that has an entirely African American main cast, so that’s really fun. And what a talented bunch they are too. Triple threats galore. There are many, many terrible straight-to-TV Christmas movies starring almost wholly African American actors, of course, but it’s safe to say that this one is head and shoulders above any of those.
The set dressing and costuming here is out of this world too, and will really get you into the festive feeling. The visuals really are a great, and the animation (specifically of Don Juan, who is hilariously voiced by Ricky Martin) is super smooth and unique. On top of that, the choreography? Top notch. Really exciting and fresh.
Now comes the downfall. The script. Sadly, the editing department failed this movie and it is far too long. Sequences between musical numbers did not need to be so lengthy, and the story is much too long-winded and difficult to follow. Outside of the opening numbers, I just didn’t get the point. It’s overstuffed, with several storylines running side-by-side at once, and kids will stay with the film only for the spectacle, rather than for anything to do with the story line.
As a result, one must rate this purely on technical merit (minus the editing), score, and the performances, despite the story itself being a little tedious.
P.s. Before we leave, it must be said that Anika Noni Rose needs to be cast in everything ever made.
Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey is available to stream on Netflix in the UK.
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