‘Jingle Jangle’ Is A Wonderful, Magical, Musical Journey
Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey
Director: David E. Talbert
Date Created: 2020-11-13 00:00
Jingle Jangle is such a delightful surprise.
Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey is a holiday musical about a toy inventor whose passion for toy-making is rediscovered after his precocious granddaughter visits him unexpectedly.
The opening number of this movie did it for me.
But the middle of the movie sagged a bit.
The end lifted up and brought it all home but it was more of a downward slope in terms of excitement in the film.
11 Wonderful Elements of Jingle Jangle
Just People, not BLACK People
Love the fact that it was black people doing things but there was no emphasis or labels or special recognition that everyone was black. It’s not labeled as an “urban film” just because there’s the presence of some extra melanin.
There was no subclass or category classifier for the film, the characters just happened to be black. Their skin color was not an indicator of their environment, their social status, or who they were. They were simply beautiful, intelligent, and magical. I loved that. Just human beings telling a story.
Love the regal natural hairstyles all throughout.
Natural hair representation and appreciation are so rare yet so needed in films. It’s important to visualize and see that black women do not need to process and manipulate and cover their hair before it’s deemed acceptable in society. Before it’s deemed beautiful. So that was truly heartwarming to see. Gave me some new hairstyle ideas too.
Also loved the otherworldly, old-timey heavily patterned costume and set.
Biblical themes of belief, restoring all that was lost, forgiveness, patience, good things coming to those who wait, and things like that, but overall belief.
This movie is definitely one that I would like to rewatch every Christmas. It has a timeless feel to it and is built on the Christmas foundation of belief. I love the message of things not working until you believe. It is true that you believe first before you see.
Love the full-circle narrative and the story that was really easy to follow along. I especially love how the storytelling vehicle of the film allowed us as audience members to follow along and reminds us of characters, clarifying aspects and details that could easily be confused or forgotten.
This movie had that special extra sauce that I’m always craving in movies, TV, and film. It had moments where everything was so synchronous musically, visually, and emotionally that I just spiritually transcended. Moments where I melt into the story itself and there is no longer a separation between myself and the movie. I’m within it. I’m part of the story now. There were hints of that feeling in this film.
Those moments included the musical number with the persistent and very thirsty mail lady and her three barber shop backups. I was floating. Just wowed by the synergy, the harmony, and the energy of it all.
The opening number had me pumping my fist. I was like, THIS is a musical. Let’s get it! Let’s go! I’m ready!
You know I felt like I didn’t know I was thirsty for quality musical storytelling until that opening number hit me.
Afrobeats + Musical ???
The final mini wow-moment was the snowball fight. Once the Afrobeat music came on, I was taken aback because that is one genre that you NEVER really ever SEE in a musical since musicals are traditionally very Western.
As an African myself, to hear the beats of my homeland, my bones started jumping. I was thrilled to hear something so familiar to me and often foreign to others be incorporated into this film genre that never includes this type of music.
However, although I appreciate the inclusion of the Afrobeat sound, there were no notable lyrics or singing in that number, it was just background music, not a highlight moment. I wish they gave the song a little bit more of a spotlight.
But yeah, that snowball moment shook me back awake after the less enticing rising action moments that made up the center of the film. My top favorite moments were all in the beginning. The movie started off with a bang and sort of fizzled off into a controlled somewhat satisfying burner flame.
The characters in this movie were all very lovable. Phylicia Rashad is always the essence of elegance, grace, and wisdom. Ricky Martin’s character, Don Juan Diego, the narcissistic conquistador was absolutely HILARIOUS to me. He was my favorite character. I wanted so much MORE of him.
I was disappointed that we never got an army of Dons.
Lisa Davina Phillips who played Ms. Johnston was so comically animated, she was an absolute joy to watch.
Madalen Mills was so endearing it was hard not to smile whenever she was onscreen gleaming in her adorable self-assured way. Kieron Dyer, Edison, was a cutie although his comedic lines often fell a little flat for me.
Keegan Michael Key did a great job as a villain. For me, sometimes seeing familiar faces makes it hard to accept new characters but I think he embodied the villain well. And Forrest Whittaker showed a smooth believable transition from a grumpy, cynical Scrooge into a warm-hearted fella.
The music had me grooving sometimes, tapping my feet, grabbing the melodic line, and singing along. John Legend was apparently on board with the music and I must say, I felt the soul, I felt the sauce that Legend always brings.
However, what does “the square root of impossible is me” mean? Like my sister and I just looked at each other after that line like, huh? Do you get it? What does that mean? It sounds profound but in actuality doesn’t make much sense.
Also, most of the equations that were presented in the movie were more philosophical. Like the theorem of awesome or the derivative of astounding, things like that. So I guess it’s more metaphorical…?
This film’s world-building is EXQUISITE because they transitioned us from a regular world that anyone can relate to before shifting to a storybook, then to human-like wooden figures before blending into the theatric, colorful town where Jangles and Things existed.
The immersion into this exaggerated world was gradual and effortless so I was more than willing to dive right in.
I was so impressed with the script as well. It was just so fine-tuned and expertly crafted. The language was very particular for this unspecified classic time period and the witty quips and retorts just flowed really naturally and theatrically. I imagine this script was vetted many times with a variety of audiences in order to weed out any weird or unnatural-sounding dialogue.
Sometimes, when I criticize awkward scripts, I worry that maybe my expectations are too high but this movie reminded me that there is a standard that can be upheld. And don’t get me wrong, there were a few jokes that didn’t hit all the way but it may have been more of an issue of execution than the script itself. So overall, love love loved the script.
The choreography is so unhinged and free yet never looks crazy which was impressive to me. If I tried the choreo out of context I would be put in a psych ward.
So many cool flips and acrobatics, it was addicting for the eyes. It was just mesmerizing to watch.
Critiques of Jingle Jangle
Why does one parent always have to die??
It just feels like a cheap grab for emotional investment in the movie. They always present the soon-to-be-dead person like this perfect angel and then kill them off within the first 10 minutes of the movie. You can create a compelling and moving story with a full family. It IS possible.
Why would Jessica send her 10-year-old daughter all alone to her estranged father’s place when the daughter has never met him once in her life? She doesn’t even have a good positive relationship with her dad, yet she trusts him with the life of her daughter?? It just doesn’t make any logical sense.
In what world would a responsible mother do that? Why didn’t she just accompany Journey? Jeronicus literally would have had her sleeping on the street and eating half an egg as her daily meal if Journey didn’t have the persistent tenacity to crack him.
I am so disappointed in the lack of awesomeness with the inventions. When the magic elixir that was supposed to change Jeronicus’s life came in the beginning I was riled up for some Toy Story – like, The Indian in the Cupboard – like shenanigans. I was so excited to see the inventive integration of amazing mechanical characters. Yet, the magic life-changing elixir from the beginning unfortunately never reintroduced itself.
Instead, we got Buddy 3000 which was honestly a very underwhelming invention that does what — repeat people’s words and fly?
Well, that already exists in the natural world. It’s called a parrot.
Not a very novel or innovative concept.
I was just hoping to see the inventions come to life a little more and play a larger part in the climax of the film and the resurrection of Jernocius’ career. An army of live inventions that fought on Jeronicus’ behalf.
I wanted to really see the amazingness of his inventions and all of that amazingness was reserved for the beginning of the movie once again.
Jingle Jangle is such a wonderful, magical movie with decent songs. So many sparks flew for me but unfortunately, they were only in the beginning. The middle of the film disengaged me and the introduction of Journey actually felt like a brake on the momentum of the film. The music wasn’t as hype, the action dwindled, and the narrated storytelling was put on hold — that drop of energy never really matched the initial high that was the introduction of this movie and that is my only complaint. If the energy of the beginning was sustained all throughout, this movie would be 10/10 hands down.
So without further ado, I present my rating of:
What was your favorite moment in this musical? Let me know in the comments below!
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Peace, love, and lots of popcorn,