Still caption: Madalen Mills as Journey Jangle and Forest Whitaker as Jeronicus Jangle | Cr.Gareth Gatrell/NETFLIX
Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey is more than a simple holiday tale but is a cinematic experience brimming with the feel of a timeless holiday classic and vibrant musical production blended to perfection.
It is a mix of high energy and melancholy as writer and director David Talbert raises the curtain on the story of the rise and fall of a legendary toymaker, Jeronicus Jangle, and his journey of rediscovering his hope, portrayed with brilliance by Academy Award-winning actor, Forest Whitaker. Whitaker is joined by a stellar cast, including lead characters, Phylicia Rashad, Keegan-Michael Key and Anika Noni Rose, and talented newcomer, Madalen Mills.
The film, recently released on Netflix, is full of spirit and energy woven artfully around a heartfelt story set in the town of Cobbleton. The whimsical tale opens on a seemingly mystical grandmother (portrayed by Phylicia Rashad) who gathers her two grandchildren around the Christmas tree to share the story of a passionate inventor.
The story opens with a sense of promise and an atmosphere of joy as Jeronicus Jangle and his family begin to enjoy the fruits of his fanciful inventions. Things take a diabolical turn when Gustafson, his once loyal apprentice (portrayed by Miles Barrow and Emmy-winner Keegan-Michael Key) enters into an alliance with Don Juan Diego, one of Jangle’s inventions (portrayed by Ricky Martin) and undermines his trust, causing the talented toymaker to hit rock bottom and sink into a spiral of hopelessness and despair.
Whitaker plays Jangle masterfully as the once vibrant and passionate toymaker who hits rock bottom after his most prized invention is stolen, setting in motion a series of unfortunate events and misguided decisions that cause him to loses everything he cherishes.
But the effervescent enthusiasm of a young budding inventor, Edison, portrayed by Kieron L. Dyer, who is a fervent admirer of the town’s legendary inventor and the brash and hilarious, won’t-take-no-for-an-answer overtures of Ms. Johnston, a persistent suitor, portrayed by Lisa Davina Phillips, won’t allow Jangle to waddle in his self-imposed misery.
But it will take an unexpected visit from his equally bright and inventive granddaughter, Journey (portrayed by newcomer, Madalen Mills), who he meets for the first time, that melts his determined reserve and reawakens him to the life and magic that is still his to discover. Mills lights up the screen as Jangle’s bright and spirited young granddaughter who delivers a message for her mother to her estranged grandfather and begins the journey that will bring him back to the life that he thought had passed him by.
Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey unfolds a timeless story of a family grappling beyond pain, loss, and disappointment to find their way home. The talented John Legend lends his musical genius to the film complemented by floor-stomping Broadway musical performaces that break out extemperaneously throughout the film to match the ebb and flow of emotions of this cinematic journey.
It is a heartfelt, must-see family, musical, full of twists and turns, that is certain to delight audiences in need of a boost of holiday cheer infused with hope, faith, and re-discovered passion.