It’s a great time to be on Netflix! As the streaming services continue to crank out content, Christmas originals are only an arms length away. The Christmas movies are rolling out and Netflix gave us a BLACK Christmas movie and I couldn’t have been happier with the outcome.
Jingle Jangle stars a wonderful cast of color in Forest Whitaker, Keegan-Michael Key, Madalen Mills, Phylicia Rashad, Anika Noni Rose, and Ricky Martin in a tale about a toymaker whose adventurous granddaughter attempts to revive his love for toymaking, magic, and inventing.
The story is told to us by Phylicia Mills’ character, who is reading the story of Jeronicus Jangle to her grandchildren. I was happy to hear a name like “Jeronicus Jangle.” Black Christmas movies aren’t new (This Christmas, The Perfect Holiday, Almost Christmas) but I love that this movie gives us two mathematical and magical geniuses in Jeronicus (Whitaker) and his granddaughter, Journey (Mills). As a blerd (black nerd), I couldn’t help but feel joyous following characters like me. It’s incredible to experience a magical Christmas movie with Black and Latin characters at the forefront.
The movie begins with a younger Jeronicus who is a joyous toymaker at the top of his game, but after his toy-making blueprints are stolen by his apprentice Gustafson (Keeye), he descends into a grumpy, scrooge-like character. Gustafson is motivated to steal the inventions by Jernicus’ magical talking toy, Don Juan Diego. Jeronicus’ daughter leaves and years later his granddaughter visits him. Madalen Mills’ energy was incredible; she was the fun balance that Whitaker’s Jeronicus desperately needed. The dynamic with Forest Whitaker is what made this movie so incredible and fun. Along for the ride is Jeronicus’ assistant, Edison (played by Kieron L. Dyer).
Keegan-Michael Keeye is plays a hilarious villain. Gustafson can’t think for himself and stole all of Jeronicus’ inventions. He and Don Juan Diego make a comedic pair of villains who stole their way to the top of toymaker game. What’s even more admirable is how much unlikeable Gustafson is. Keeye has rarely played a character I don’t like, but I couldn’t stand this thief!
I’m not a huge fan of musicals, but Jingle Jangle changed my mind. While the songs in the movie aren’t Hamilton level, I thoroughly enjoyed the music breaks. The songs draw you in as they tell the story and add a little hip-hop influence to a few of them! The songs made me want to sing along, even though I didn’t know the lyrics. I was wrapped in what I was seeing and it brings the magic of Christmas over a month early. It’s an instant Christmas classic.
I enjoyed the songs, the toys, Jeronicus and Journey’s dynamic, and so much more. It was almost hard to find anything wrong with the film. The only thing I could think of was that the first act took a little long to get into the meat of the story, but other than that I’ll be watching this again!
Director David E. Talbert spoke about how his son needed musicals with characters that looked like him, and knowing that was his reason to create this movie make it all the more magical. DEFINITELY watch Jingle Jangle streaming on Netflix starting November 13th.