Review: Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey

Madalen Mills in Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey

Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey brings music and magic to the Christmas season. The entire family can enjoy this musical with its steampunk gadgets, Victorian costumes, stunning choreography, and a message about believing in yourself. You’ll find it on Netflix.

Phylicia Rashad in Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey

Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey is the story of the Jangle family. We’re taken into the story by Phylicia Rashad opening a magical book and telling a story to her grandchildren.

We go back several generations to Jeronicus Jangle, the world’s best inventor. Young Jeronicus is played by Justin Cornwell, while the older Jeronicus is played by Forest Whitaker. Jeronicus has an assistant, a budding inventor himself, who steals all of Jeronicus’ ideas. That assistant, Gustafson, is played by Miles Barrow and then Keegan-Michael Key.

Keegan-Michael Key in Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey
Gustafson the villain

Jeronicus’ wife dies and all his inventions are gone. He’s a defeated man. He sends away his daughter Jessica (Diaana Babnicova as a youngster, Anika Noni Rose as an adult). He turns his workshop into a pawnshop and eeks out a lonely existence with the banker (Hugh Bonneville) always ready to pounce on the building.

Forest Whitaker in Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey
Just a lonely old guy in a pawn shop.

But this is a Christmas story with glorious musical production numbers and bright colors. You know this sad state of affairs won’t last.

Anika Noni Rose and Madalen Mills in Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey
Journey was born with gears and widgets in her head. Is she an inventor, too?

Now is the right time to introduce Jeronicus’ granddaughter Journey (Madalen Mills) to the story. Journey is the real star of this movie. It’s hard to believe this is Madalen Mills first movie. She possesses a lovely singing voice and a confident acting style that should take her far.

Journey goes to visit her grandfather for Christmas. She befriends his young assistant, Edison (Kieron L. Dyer). Poking around in the attic full of old inventions, Edison and Journey discover that the inventions will work if you believe. They have to convince Jeronicus to believe, which takes some work and forms both delightful musical numbers and scary adventures.

Madalen Mills in Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey
Do you believe?

Let’s bring it home for that happy ending! If you believe.

Lovely Jingle Jangle Bits

There are some lovely bits about Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey I want to mention.

Forest Whitaker in Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey
The magic math

Jeronicus and Journey both do magic math. It’s written in the air out of shimmering stars and solves problems like finding the square root of possible. This math is what makes the inventions work.

This is a musical. Forest Whitaker sings. And he sings very well, thank you. He also plays the romantic leading man who attracts the flirtations of Ms. Johnston (Lisa Davina Phillip). He even gives her a little peck of a kiss under the mistletoe. Yes, Forest Whitaker is kissing someone in a movie. (I don’t know when I’ve been so excited to see an actor doing something so unexpected since Charles S. Dutton kissed Pam Grier in The L Word.)

The Flying Robot in Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey

The tiny matador Don Juan Diego (Ricky Martin) is a real scene stealer. So is the flying robot, Buddy, who is at least as cute as baby Yoda and does many more interesting things.

The dancers and the choreography are a pure delight. The music is lovely – one of the producers is John Legend, who helped write the songs.

The costumes are gorgeous. Everything is full of color and life.

The film was written and directed by David E. Talbert. My final lovely bit to mention that he brought together a nearly all Black cast to create this Christmas tale that will make anyone smile with pleasure.

Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey poster

Here’s a peek at the action.

Need more convincing?

Author: Virginia DeBolt

After many years as an educator and writer, Virginia retired from working life. She's always loved a good movie or TV show and wants to use her free time to talk about them with you now. She's Old Ain't Dead!

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