Tis the season for new holiday movies, and Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey arrives just in time. It includes something for everyone. Magic and music combine in this period film that reminds us a bit of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.
The story appears to take place around the same time, and the main character sometimes acts like Scrooge. Look under his heavy beard and you’ll see Oscar winner Forest Whitaker (Last King of Scotland) as Jeronicus, a great inventor/toymaker who gives up practically everything until Journey, a darling youngster (Madalen Mills) insists on visiting him during the time before Christmas.
“Jingle Jangle” – a lot to see.
Songs and dances, so Christmassy!
Toys and gadgets float through the air.
Designed for fun and with great flair.
Plus a villain who causes pain
by stealing work for his own gain.
The victim? An inventor guy
who then loses the will to try.
But granddaughter arrives with hope.
She teaches him the way to cope.
Magic happens between these two.
This movie is a treat for you.
Part of that treat comes from Keegan-Michael Key’s (Keanu) performance as the bad guy who causes Jeronicus’ misery. It’s such fun to watch him sing and dance in one of the film’s big production numbers! He could have gone over-the-top with this meaty role, but he resisted -- and that made his character more believable. Sometimes less is more.
Adding to the movie’s entertainment quality are the eye-popping special effects and the colorful costumes. It’s almost like watching a first-rate Broadway musical.
All cast members seem to be having a great time, especially Mills, who tugs at your heartstrings as she sings “”Square Root of Possible” in my favorite musical sequence. Phylicia Rashad (A Fall from Grace) also deserves kudos for her lovely storytelling narration as does Anika Noni Rose (Dreamgirls) in the role of Jeronicus’ estranged daughter. Plus, the terrific male trio of back-up singers/dancers always made me laugh. They definitely need more camera time.
Written and directed by David E. Talbert (First Sunday) with a musical score by John Debney (The Greatest Showman) and tracks by several people including John Legend, this amazing offering emphasizes the importance of family, kindness, and not giving up. That’s a perfect message for these difficult times.
But wait! I almost forgot to tell you that Whitaker sings -- and with his whole heart. I’m not kidding.
(Released by Netflix and rated “PG” by MPAA.)