Netflix began the Christmas season with the disappointing Operation Christmas Drop, but the streaming platform made up for it last week with a musical fantasy film that closely resembles a Disney production.
Starring Forest Whitaker, Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey, directed and written by David E Talbert, is an energetic film for those who are seeking escapism during the holiday season.
The film begins with a grandmother reading to her two grandchildren from a strange-looking book. The story is about a toymaker and inventor named Jeronicus Jangle, who during his prime was known as “the greatest inventor of them all” in a bustling town. However, when his apprentice runs off with his book of inventions, Jeronicus loses not only his business but also his passion. He later even loses his family, with the death of his wife and his daughter leaving him. Jeronicus no longer has the energy to invent new things and his toy shop becomes a pawn shop.
Years later, Jeronicus, now an old grumpy man, is visited by his estranged granddaughter Journey (Madalen Mills). Also a brilliant inventor, Journey wants to spend the holidays tinkering away in her grandfather’s workshop. Jeronicus is initially annoyed by such a sudden encounter, but little does he know that Journey will bring back his lost fire of life.
One remarkable feature of Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey is its strong storytelling. The combination of colourful narration, puppet animation and live-action results in unique and exciting cinematography that sparks viewers’ curiosity. However, the slow development makes it seem ironic to have the word “journey” in the title. This is compensated with by beautiful and uplifting songs written by Philip Lawrence, Davy Nathan, Michael Diskint and John Legend with its score from the award-winning composer John Debney.
Meanwhile, the plot, despite being a little predictable, gives a positive message for families, especially children. The theme of self-belief is very important for children as they grow up, in addition to the message that they have to follow their dreams and passion regardless of what people say about them. It also teaches viewers that why people are special is something that cannot be forgotten or lost.
The talented cast make the film extra magical. Whitaker gives a delightful performance as the older Jeronicus, particularly in the way in which he presents himself as the centre of both the humour and tragedy in the film. Whitaker’s character is supported very well by Mills, who plays Journey Jangle, who proves that she has a bright future ahead of her in spite of her lack of experience. Meanwhile, the emphatic performance by Anika Noni Rose, the voice of Tiana in The Princess and the Frog, has a presence in the film despite her brief appearance.
This is a tale that the entire family can enjoy on Christmas.