Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey – Netflix Film Review

Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey

Netflix isn’t exactly known for producing many high-quality Christmas films – they usually fall into the “so bad it’s good” category – but hopefully the tide is set to turn because Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey is a wonderful festive film for all the family.

The story begins with young Jeronicus Jangle (Justin Cornwell), the most renowned and prosperous inventor of all, preparing to launch a matador toy that comes alive – Don Juan Diego (voiced by Ricky Martin). However, his young apprentice Gustafson (Miles Barrow), overcome by jealousy and greed, steals the toy and Jangle’s book of inventions. We then cut to many years later, when Gustafson (now Keegan-Michael Key) has become the most famed inventor and Jeronicus (now Forest Whitaker) has become a grumpy and lonely man who works as a pawnbroker out of his decaying shop. But his fortunes are about to change – his estranged granddaughter Journey (Madalen Mills), who shares his gift for inventing, arrives for an unannounced visit.

Jingle Jangle has a super flimsy plot so you should look elsewhere if you’re wanting depth, nuance, and a more complex story. However, you can forgive the film for all this because it’s so entertaining to watch. Children will love the musical numbers and the choreography, Mills as the fearless Journey, and most of all, the Buddy 3000, an adorable robot that can talk and fly (and looks a lot like WALL-E).

Writer/director David E. Talbert has created an ambitious Christmas movie and a visual spectacle that features stunning production design, Victorian-era snow-covered sets, period costumes, gorgeous stop-motion animation, and CGI inventions. I loved watching the cast and the dancers perform synchronized routines on the street in their costumes – those sequences were a joy to watch. My personal favourite numbers were the opening sequence, This Day, Mills’ big solo piece, Square Root of Possible, and the Gustafson’s fun number, Magic Man G. Not all of the songs are memorable but they are fun to watch in the moment.

Despite being surrounded by an A-list cast, newcomer Mills easily steals the show as Journey, who is super smart and upbeat and helps Jeronicus see the magic and joy in inventing once again. She is likeable, proud of her intelligence, has ambitions to be an inventor too, and has a very impressive singing voice. My second favourite is Key as the cartoonish evil imbecile Gustafson; he is great fun and his solo number is a highlight. Whitaker’s transformation from grumpy to happy didn’t take too much work – more consideration could have been given to that transition – but he was perfectly cast as Jeronicus. Anika Noni Rose, with her stunning voice, also offers up terrific support as Jeronicus’ estranged daughter Jessica, as well as Hugh Bonneville as banker Delacroix and Phylicia Rashad as a narrator of sorts.

Jingle Jangle isn’t perfect but that doesn’t matter – Talbert has managed to deliver a Christmassy movie that is full of joy, wonder, and that festive feeling. A must-watch for families this holiday season!

Streaming on Netflix from Friday 13th November

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

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