Director David E. Talbert brings Christmas magic to the comfort of your own home in Netflix’s Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey. The film begins as a grandmother (Phylicia Rashad) is telling a story to her grandchildren. She is telling the children a story set in the gloriously vibrant town of Cobbleton. The hero of the story is legendary toymaker Jeronicus Jangle (Forest Whitaker), who has lost his way. You see, when Jeroncius was a younger man (portrayed by Justin Cornwell), his fanciful inventions burst with whimsy and wonder. Jeronicus also had the love of a trusted wife and a doting daughter.
Sadly when his trusted apprentice Gustafson (Miles Barrow) steals his most prized creation, a talking doll named Don Juan Diego (Ricky Martin), Jeronicus, also loses his mojo. Years later, Gustafson (Keegan-Michael Key) is quite successful, while Jeronicus is facing financial ruin. When Jeroncius’s equally bright and inventive granddaughter (Madalen Mills) pays a holiday visit, she discovers a long-forgotten invention. Hoping to heal old wounds and reawaken the magic within her grandfather and save the day.
I’ve been aware of David E. Talbert’s work since his days as a playwright. The director’s first two films, First Sunday and Baggage Claim catered to his core audience, Talbert’s third and fourth films as a director were Christmas themed. The director seems to have found a comfortable niche with the genre. Unlike his previous Christmas films Almost Christmas and El Camino Christmas, Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey is a delightful musical the entire family can enjoy.
One of the first things you’ll notice about the film is there aren’t any sexual innuendos, foul language and everyone in the town gets along. The cast is first-rate, with Forrest Whitaker and Keegan-Michael Key delivering show-stopping musical numbers. Simultaneously, newcomer Madalen Mills has a beautiful singing voice and is as cute as a button in her role.
While there have been Christmas movies that featured people of color in the lead roles, I can’t think of anything on the scale of Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey. From the costume design, catchy soundtrack, I either had a smile on my face or a snap in my fingers through the film’s duration. In hindsight, my one issue with the film was the lack of screen time for one of my favorite actresses Anika Noni Rose. While she has a significant musical number, I wished she had more chances to show off her acting chops.
Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey is a welcome addition to Netflix’s already impressive Christmas movie catalog. Filled with top-notch acting, glorious singing, and Christmas joy, Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey is well worth the viewing.
Final Grade A –
Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey is streaming on Netflix now.