That’s why my kids needed one fun Christmas movie desperate. Something modern. Something with a variety of kids who both look and don’t look like my kids. Something that shows all the things that my own children love and show: wonder, color, toys, mystery, magic, happiness, joy and love of family.
Enter Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey, the story of master toymaker Jeronicus Jangle, a brilliant inventor played by none other than Forest Whitaker. Jangle has a famous toy store, but somehow it loses a bit of its light and creativity. Meanwhile, Journey Jangle – Jeronicus’ granddaughter – comes to visit for a while. Journey’s character, played by Madalen Mills, finds out something has been stolen – a robot! – from her grandfather and she sets out to retrieve it, and so she can restore her grandfather’s lost spirit.
It’s a well-known, familiar trope when it comes to Christmas movie plots, but it works pretty well—then and now. Also, elements of the film are surprising – particularly the quality of the singing and the sheer beauty of the costumes. Everyone dresses like they’re in a colorful candy store.
It’s a well-crafted musical with references to Afrobeats, R&B, black barbershop quartets and gospel. We saw this movie in 2020 and immediately my kids heads were jumping and the kids were singing the hopeful songs of an uplifting holiday movie starring bright little kids with tons of natural hair perfectly coiffed, dressed in the brightest colors imaginable, practically flying with joy – just like her.
A key song is called “The Square Root of Possible,” a nice nod to STEM lovers and anyone who believes that a positive attitude (and math skills) can overcome almost any obstacle. It’s also cool that the main characters do mental arithmetic (encoded as magic) that power super awesome toys.
For 2022 I think it’s time to revisit jingle jangle and push it firmly toward holiday classic status. It’s a fantasy musical with the crucial elements of timelessness, outstanding music, a heartwarming family story, the grumpy father figure, the bright and happy child and a villain (skillfully portrayed by Keegan Michael Key) Keys Gustafson is a deceptively friendly antagonist, who will stop at nothing to steal what he wants. Rounding out the star cast are Phylicia Rashad, Anika Noni Rose and Ricky Martin (as an adorable and passionate! doll). John Legend and Mike Jackson also signed on as producers.
The film is also visually enjoyable. The spinning clockwork, the gold and silver, the nod to steampunk fashion. The film also won two 2021 NAACP Image Awards for Rashad’s character and for Mills, for whom this role was a breakthrough. The film led to two books, released in 2020 and 2021 respectively.
jingle jangle Stream on Netflix.