“Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey” Movie Review

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Stephanie Kontopanos, Web Editor

The movie Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey was released on November 6, 2020, and has already received wonderful reviews, scoring a 95% on Rotten Tomatoes. Although I’ve never been keen on watching Christmas movies before Thanksgiving, this movie is wonderful in a variety of ways. 

The film is about an inventor, Jeronicus Jangle, who gets his first successful invention stolen by his jealous apprentice, Gustafson. Left tending to a pawn shop, he is forced to create another spectacular invention or close his business. After his granddaughter, Journey, whom he had never met, shows up at his door, they begin a journey to stop Gustafson from stealing Jeronicus’ new, almost-successful invention. 

The director, David E. Talbert, made the movie so that his daughter could see African-American representation in a Christmas movie. Hence, the movie features prominent African-American actors and actresses such as Anika Noni Rose, Keegan-Michael Key, and Forest Whitaker. In addition to featuring both dark and light-skinned African-American actors, the musical score is heavily inspired by African-American culture. The soundtrack has elements of soul, hip-hop, R&B, jazz, gospel, and afrobeat. Besides the representation of African-Americans, the movie also includes plus-size dancers.

In terms of plot, the movie is also good, though occasionally inconsistent and confusing. In the film, viewers see inventor Jeronicus Jangle, played by Forest Whitaker, go through highs and lows in his life— failed and succeeded inventions, stolen patents, and the death of a family member. The movie demonstrates how intelligence equates to magic and emphasizes the dangers of swollen egos and stealings. The film does a wonderful job of including layers of intensity and conflict, making it much more suspenseful. Additionally, the highs and lows of this movie make it an emotional film. Although some movies make attempts to be emotional just for the sake of getting good ratings, the rousing of the audience is a by-product of the well-developed plot in this movie. It pulls at the heart-strings, made obvious by the tears I shed at the end.

The soundtrack was certainly one of the best parts of the film. Produced with the help of John Legend, the soundtrack has a variety of African-American influences as well as one song with evident Latin-American influence. The Broadway-Esque music is motivational and high-energy, with deep, soulful voices. The song “Make It Work” has a double meaning, with one being figurative and the other being literal. In “Over and Over,” Whitaker’s raw, unedited voice shines with heavy emotion. Even the child actors have good voices.

Even a movie as great as this one, however, is not without its faults. The movie featured only about 3 Asian extras. It tends to get overly cheesy and sappy at parts. The movie opens with a cliche: a character reads from a storybook from which the plot comes to life and the character reading the book is later revealed to be one of the main characters in the story. The script is predictable at times. The actor who plays Edison, Kieron L. Dyer, presents his character stiffly and awkwardly. His many scenes with the more experienced child actor who plays Journey, Madalen Mills, make his performance appear much worse by comparison. Nevertheless, this steampunk Christmas movie is bound to become a family favorite for many holidays to come.