‘Jingle Jangle’: modern yet timeless Christmas movie

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Photo via Netflix

Gianna Feminis, Co-Editor in Chief and Sports Editor

Netflix rings in the season with the latest holiday movie to hit the streaming service, “Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey.”

The movie is set in the Victorian era and follows the story of an inventor named Jeronicus Jangle (Forest Whitaker)  who owns a well-known toy store called “Jangle and Things.” After Jangle’s former apprentice, Gustafson (Keegan-Michael Key), steals Jangle’s book of inventions and creates them himself, “Jangles and Things” slowly starts to deteriorate on the verge of bankruptcy.  

Jangle then unwillingly reunites with his brilliant and ambitious ten-year-old granddaughter, Journey (Madalen Mills). Journey has a love for inventing just like her grandfather and is determined to keep his store open, as well as his legacy alive. 

“Jingle Jangle” is very similar to movies such as “The Greatest Showman” and “Mary Poppins.”  The storytelling in this movie is captured through songs and musical numbers. The dance choreography is very elaborate and explosive. Each dance features a large group of people which creates almost a live theater experience for the viewers.

The songs in “Jingle Jangle” not only describe the personalities of the various characters in the movie, but also enhance the story as well. For example, Mills’ “Square Root of Possible” is a defining moment in the movie that separates her character from the others.  Each song creates an in-depth look as to how the characters are feeling as well as their dreams and aspirations. 

Another reason why the musical numbers are so eye catching is because of the bright, culturally-inspired Victorian costumes designed by Michael Wilkinson. Wilkinson perfectly melded Victorian clothing styles such as shoulder padded coats and leather, but gave it a more modern twist.  Characters often wore multiple kinds of patterns paired with two or three colors in order for each character to stand out. Vibrant colors instead of neutral are also a part of the distinct “Jingle Jangle” look.

Director David E. Talbert assembled a mostly African-American cast, which is rare in a holiday film. The best performance was given by 11-year-old actress Mills in her first major role. Between her advanced vocals and her fantastic take on the character, Mills really ties the whole movie together. 

Cinematographer Remi Adefarasin, known for visually creating “Elizabeth”, “Match Point”and “The Cold Light of Day”, has solid experience in movies and helped “Jingle Jangle” feel like a timeless film. 

What makes this movie different from other Christmas films is the lack of references to the actual holiday.  Rather, the movie focuses on the individual character’s journeys and uses the holiday atmosphere as a part of the setting. 

The only concept in the movie that may be hard to follow is the family lineage. The film starts with Journey’s grandfather when he was young as the main character, but eventually Journey becomes the main character, which may be complex for younger viewers. 

Overall, “Jingle Jangle” is a wonderful family-friendly holiday film available now on Netflix.