Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey
Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey (2020) movie review
Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey is a new Christmas musical on Netflix from writer/director David E. Talbert. The film follows a toymaker who, after his inventions are stolen by his former apprentice, must now come up with a new invention with the help of his granddaughter. While the audience reviews seem mixed, the overall critical consensus of the film has held fairly positive.
I for one thought it was a fun time. However it is also a surprisingly flawed film, which makes Jingle Jangle the most mixed I’ve been on a film all year. On the one hand, you have a fun, family flick with positive themes, fun music, and plenty of laughs and feels. On the other hand, the film is bloated, often unfocused, and a bit too ambitious when it comes to the whimsical nature set by the tone. But if you want to know right off the bat whether or not you should see it, just ask yourself if you can set logic aside and have fun. The more that answer rings true, the more you’ll like it.
So let’s start with a few positives. The story isn’t unpredictable, but it does work well. The themes in the film are really strong, and as silly as it often feels, it rarely feels like more than this steampunk Christmas film can handle. Sure if you pick a few lines out about quantifying emotions it gets a bit ridiculous, but if Nolan can get away with that, I think we can let Jingle Jangle slide…
Of course what helps sell the characters and story for me are the performances. Sure the film totally wastes Keegan-Michael Key, nd that’s one of my larger complaints. Still, he delivers a really fun performance when he is in the film! Forest Whitaker and Madalen Mills also both deliver strong performances, with Mills managing the job of being a precocious child who never feels dislikable, and Whitaker hilariously balancing a now awkward and antisocial former genius who still has a heart. But if its one performance I don’t think will get the attention it deserves, it’s Lisa Davina Phillips. She not only manages to make a supporting character incredible memorable, but she’s easily the funniest one in the film!
While we are on a positive note, I wanted to give this film praise for looking as good as it does! The cinematography is sharp, the colors are vibrant, the set design works really well with the period setting, and the visual effects are surprisingly good! There’s a moment that doesn’t work very well, but it’s a silly scene, to the odds that it wouldn’t look good were high… But yeah, the film certainly gives you plenty to look at!
So why don’t I like it? Well for one, it’s two hours, and that’s just too long. Maybe half-an-hour too long. What could you cut out? Well the music was a thought. Look I didn’t dislike the music, but the lyrics were a little too silly sometimes, the style of music simply borrowed from other musicals like Greatest Showman (2017), and in the end, the musical numbers were the least memorable thing about it. I did get a few laughs from the music though, so what else would we cut?
Well Jingle Jangle has some issues focusing its story. For one, the spend what feels like a fifth of the film repairing the relationship between the father and daughter near the end. Yet, we spend the rest of the film focusing on the daughter and granddaughter. On top of that, the relationship between Jangle and his former apprentice, Gustafson, feels like it was building up to something more. Maybe focus on that instead of his daughter? Or cut out aspects of Gustafson’s story. Either way, the pacing really suffers. For me this film went from passable to really fun to a slow limp to the finish. Plus there’s one sequence that just bites off more than it can chew as far as logic goes.
In the end, I thought Jingle Jangle was missing something. No not belief. It has plenty of that! Heck it has such wonderful themes that I’m tempted to give is a pass anyway. Definitely watch it. Heck the representation alone for a mainstream Christmas musical warrants a watch! Look, I’m a critic. At least enough of one that the things that bothered me would easily keep me from watching it again. It’s too long and needs to lose something bogging it down. Could be any one thing, but in the end, as much as I enjoyed it, I also woke up and forgot that I watched it earlier this week. So I’m going to give Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey a 5/10, but I think it’s worth checking out for anyone looking for a fun Christmas flick!
So Jingle Jangle? Did you see it? What did you think? And what is your all-time favorite Christmas musical? I know I might even have to think about that one… Okay it’s Scrooge (1970). But hey, leave a like or a comment below and let us know! And if you liked this review and you want to read more like it, let us know what you’d like us to review next!
-review by Ryan Prince