‘Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey’ Is A Dazzlingly Spectacle of Imagination And Black Excellence – Review
Holiday movies that dive into the magic of Christmas are a dime a dozen.
Each year, we get a new feature that tries to reinvent the wheel. Some are a wondrous in their own way, but Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey offers a bright and refreshing new take.
David E. Talbert brings us a delightful musical adventure that aims to spark joy in our hearts and minds. The story, as told by Phylicia Rashad, follows Jeronicus Jangle (Justin Cornwell) a great inventor and toy maker. One day, Jeronicus finally makes a breakthrough on a life changing invention, however, he is undermined by a devious doll Don Juan Diego (Ricky Martin) and his underappreciated apprentice, Gustafson (Miles Barrow). This devastates Jeronicus and after the loss of his wife and becoming estranged from his daughter, years pass and Gustafson (Keegan Michael-Key) becomes a great success, while Jeronicus (Forest Whitaker) loses all hope. That is until his young and precious granddaughter, Journey (Madalen Mills), steps into his life and gives him what he is missing – a spark of belief.
Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey is about the power of believing in one’s abilities and believing in our loved ones. It is also a cautionary tale about how greed and commercialization stifles the imagination. A tale like this has been told before but this time we are graced with an exceptionally talented group of Black performers going above and beyond. From the top down, this ensemble exudes excellence. Justin Cornwell and Sharon Rose as the young Jeronicus and his wife, Joanna, kick off the story with a portrait of bright and loving family before being hit by tragedy.
Whitaker picks up the reins and gives us the pained, yet quirky older Jeronicus. The hilarious Lisa Davina Phillip plays the thirsty postman, Ms. Johnston to perfection. Michael-Key is fun as the devious, but clueless villain, as well as his puppet master, the bad Don Juan Diego doll voiced by Martin. Kieron L. Dyer gives us that Urkel energy with his adorkable Edison Latimer, a young aspiring inventor who latches onto Jeronicus. Then there is newcomer Madalen Mills who lights up the screen with her presence, and of course, the one and only Anika Noni Rose whose brief appearance will melt the coldest of hearts. This ensemble does exactly what they need to do to give you a heartfelt story about family, love, and the power of imagination.
From the great attention to detail from the production design, to the costumes, to the wonderful individual character designs, Jingle Jangle is as much a feast for the eyes as it is a feast for the soul. Then there is the music. We are treated to a talented group of performers that can actually carry a tune, and oh boy, do they know how to sing! The songs are catchy and sweet, and strike the right tone for this family-friendly holiday adventure. Everything comes together to celebrate the magical nature of the story and the sensationally talented cast.
All-in-all, there is not one negative thing to be said about Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey. It is an instant classic with its bright and dazzling production, and equally brilliant cast. It is a feel-good story with real heart and emotion, and something to offer viewers young and old. However, the most important and delightful thing about this film, is that Black audiences now have an audacious and whimsical holiday film to share and enjoy with the whole family. With its exuberant spirit and poignant message, it is easily the best thing to uplift everyone during this tough holiday season.