John Legend, Forest Whitaker, Phylicia Rashad, Anika Noni Rose, David E. Talbert, and Break Out Star Madalen Mills Shine In Joyful and Beautiful Holiday Movie Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey on Netflix

Written by: Toree Weaver – December 4th, 2020 7:11 pm pst

Film review


Christmas has a unique way of spreading cheer no matter the year you’ve had. With the holiday traditions dating back to 1870 in the United States, it can be a little difficult to steer away from the classic films, music, and practices. Each year artists and creators try to produce something that is groundbreaking and inspiring enough to get added to someone’s Christmas ritual. Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey written by David E. Talbert, has brought a vibrant and diverse look and feel to the holiday season. 

Before you start reading, let me inform you now that this article may contain spoilers. If you haven’t watched it yet, save this article and come back after you’ve checked it out on Netflix. 

Are you back? Great, now let’s discuss. The cast alone pulls you into this new family story. Forest Whitaker and Phylicia Rashad’s warm and grounded story telling resemble an ancestral voice pouring out of the screen. Although the story starts at a fireplace- which we’ve seen in countless Christmas movies- the universe opens up and reveals an eye-catching display. Without establishing a specific place or time frame, the film creates a unique and cohesive world for the story to live in. The Georgian and Tudor buildings (found in London where the cast filmed) paired with the vibrant and African-inspired costume design, provided a perfect combination of modern and classic filmmaking. The writers and directors didn’t just stop there; the songs and dancing pulled from numerous inspirations while the lighting designers enhanced the beauty of the predominantly Black cast (which deserves a moment of recognition). The characters enjoy numerous careers including math, science, and postal services while celebrating each other’s achievements. The town is so cheerful, that the thievery displayed seemed extremely out of the ordinary for this setting. Although there is an established villain, the depiction of Black people enjoying their talents and not having to explain their Blackness to drive the plot is fresh and changes the collective narrative of Black people. 

Once past the initial ambience of the movie, the plot starts to unfold. The first couple of minutes introduce the framework for what seems to be a simple story of revenge and justice (with a sprinkle of joy of course). Beloved and successful inventor Jeronicus Jangle, who initially is full of light, belief, and groundbreaking ideas, is betrayed by apprentice Gustafson and a talking toy who takes his blueprints and sells them as their own. Typically, if someone is making a fortune off of your idea, you would do everything in your power to reclaim what is yours. However, Jeronicus takes a less aggressive approach which causes viewers to anticipate the resolution. Although he has an equation for everything, including “possible,” he can’t seem to regain his spark alone. Several plots are quickly revealed including a complicated family dynamic, failed business, and a burning factory. While the plots and subplots play out, it is a slight hassle to see how any of them relate to one another or which plot is the main focus. The unorthodox storytelling still finds its way to convey a bigger story- as long as you believe, what’s meant for you will always find you.  

Although Jernonicus seems to have lost it all, he finds success after finding his faith and restoring love into his family. A bright-eyed Journey Jangle, played by lovely Madalen Mills, learns that her grumpy grandfather’s strict rules come in handy- especially when someone tries to steal your invention for the second time. His daughter Jessica Jangle, played by Anika Noni Rose, also learns to extend grace to everyone and be open to loving again. Though we see a beautiful family reunion between Jeronicus, his daughter, and granddaughter, the lesson is driven home through his once apprentice Gustafson. As he makes his last appearance on the screen in handcuffs, it is revealed that Jeronicus had plans of helping his inventions the day after he decided to steal his designs. Instead of believing in his own timing, Gustafson made a fortune off of someone’s dreams and still received the negative outcome he thought he avoided. Of course, the snowball fights, whimsical special effects, and heartfelt lines explain this lesson for any age group willing to fish through the jam-packed two-hour film but, the theme still rings true. 

Without mentioning the head over heels postal woman, Anika Noni Rose’s amazing vocal performance, or the flying robot, there is enough to leave your stocking full of belief, hope, and maybe a new-found interest in inventing. For some, this movie can be a bit much but there is no other appropriate holiday to bring out the bells and whistles. It’s safe to say that this film has warmed some hearts, but I would love to see this dream team of a cast and crew, come together again and produce another film with a heavier and straight forward plot.  

Be sure to check out Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey on Netflix and tell us what you think! If you love Christmas, good films, or an opportunity to watch something new and fresh, share this article with a friend.

  About The Author:

Toree Weaver is an AfterBuzz TV host with a passion for glamour and kingdoms. When she isn’t modeling or dancing, she can be found binge watching shows from Gossip Girl to Game of Thrones.

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