Move over Christmas Chronicles, Netflix now has a new (and better) Christmas movie for families to watch together every year, JINGLE JANGLE: A CHRISTMAS JOURNEY. I doubt that the Christmas Chronicles sequel, which releases next week, will over take this one for me, considering that the first movie is…only okay….sorry Kurt Russell. And if you have a problem with me saying that this is a ‘Christmas’ movie and not using the word ‘holiday’…well, not to mince words, but you can shove it up your butt hurt triggered 2020 asshole chimney. While the movie is shot, cinematography wise, like a television movie, and my wife and I discussed mid way through how this could easily be turned into a Broadway stage play in the future, the rest of the production is top notch. It has a wonderful production design, half way decent CGI for what it is, the musical song and dance numbers were fun and memorable, none of the actors phoned it in, including one of Forest Whitaker’s best performances in quite awhile…it has the Christmas works. Per IMDB, it describes Jingle Jangle with the following: “An imaginary world comes to life in a holiday tale of an eccentric toymaker, his adventurous granddaughter, and a magical invention that has the power to change their lives forever.” While the story ends up being a bit familiar (you know, the whole love, loss, redemption one audiences has seen a thousand times), and I would also say the movie is about 15 minutes too long (it’s a heavy 2 hrs and 2 minutes), the rest of the film was joyfully jolly and jovial enough to forgive it’s trespasses and go along with it for the rest of its wonderful journey.
Forest Whitaker is first billed here, and I’m glad that he wasn’t just playing himself in this one, as his character has some quirks to be kinked out, and his performance here earned the believability of his redemption arc. But he is not the true star of the show. That would be newcomer Madalen Mills, who plays his grandaughter, Journey. If it wasn’t for her pure of heart and delightful performance, Jingle Jangle simply couldn’t be what it ultimately is: very lovely. Ricky Martin voices a cute yet suspicious little CGI figurine come to life, whose MacGuffin-ness I dare not spoil here. There is a cute robot named Buddy 3000 that shows up halfway through the film that people are calling the next ‘Baby Yoda’, and although it is cute and made me smile, I think anyone who says that it is in the same ballpark of cultural impact that the new Star Wars character has, is just kidding themselves. The one actor that I felt got short changed in this movie is the other half of Key & Peele, the one that hasn’t won an Oscar, Keegan-Michael Key. He plays a wonderful little villain and has some great chops and can dance spectacularly with the choreography given, but other than his first big musical song and dance number, he isn’t in the film all that much. The climax of his character in the climax of the film is a bit anti-climatic as well, and although the movie had a bunch of very early set ups that were paid off during this scene, it just felt like Mr. Key was shortchanged a bit with his role. But maybe this could be an audition for bigger things for him. I hope it is. Anyway, if you want a decent streaming new Christmas movie because you won’t go to the theater and you’re are finally tired of watching the same Christmas stuff because the walls are finally starting to cave in on your 2020 bubble, Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey is here to blow some air into it to keep it from completely collapsing.