Jingle Jangle Cover: A young girl holds a glowing ball with the rest of the cast around her


Title: Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey
Released: 2020

Fix: Fantastical Family Fun, Christmas Musicals, Netflix Holiday Movies That Won’t Make You Gouge Your Eyeballs Out
Platforms: Netflix

Netflix Summary:

An imaginary world comes to life in a holiday tale of an eccentric toymaker, his adventurous granddaughter, and a magical invention that has the power to change their lives forever.

What’s Actually Going On In Santa’s Workshop:

As a young man, Jeronicus Jangle had it all: a family, his own business, and a head full of amazing ideas and wondrous inventions. Then his apprentice stole his life’s work and he lost everything. Now as defeated, grump of an old man, he’s repurposed his business into a pawn shop and lost the meaning of happiness and the holiday spirit. So when his tween granddaughter, Journey, shows up to learn from the formerly famous inventor, she’s in for a project that looks way over her head. Lucky for Jeronicus, his granddaughter has an excellent work ethic and a can-do attitude that, together, just might save his life.

Also, this is a musical. We all know that I, as a theater-loving nerd, stan a good musical, but as I was unprepared when the big opening number began, I feel it is my duty to warn those who Fred-Savage musicals what they’re in for. It’s executive produced by John Legend, so at least the music is pretty good, albeit not super Christmassy IMO (although that could also be a plus for you. I don’t know your life!).

Naughty or Nice List:

Forest Whitaker as (older) Jeronicus Jangle 

My first thought when I saw Forest Whitaker was Jeronicus was, “oh, shit, there’s like, actual actors in this movie!” The first role I remember really noticing Whitaker in was his excellent turn as the unnervingly ruthless dictator in The Last King of Scotland, so any time he plays a nice character in a movie I’m initially taken aback.

Verdict: Naughty, then Nice (he drove away his daughter and had to be badgered into living his life again.) 

Keegan-Michael Key as (older) Gustafson 

Key plays the grown-up version of Jangle’s invention-stealing apprentice, and this is the kind of bombastic role he excels in. He also got the best/catchiest song of the bunch, “Magic Man G”.

Verdict: Naughty (too lazy to improve his own inventions. For shame.)

Anika Noni Rose as Jessica 

Anika has also been in a bunch of movies/TV/theater projects, but for FYA purposes, you will know her best as the mom from Everything, Everything and the voice of Tiana from The Princess and the FrogEveryone in this movie belted their hearts out, and I was impressed all over again by her amazing pipes.

Verdict: Nice (she just wants her dad back and her kid to be happy!)

Madalen Mills as Journey 

This looks to be Madalen’s first role, but I’d say she is one to watch! While her song, “Square Root of Possible” was a bit too cheestastic for me (though I’m sure your kid will love it) and probably my least favorite off the soundtrack, she sang it well and has the charisma and charm of a rising star.

Verdict: Nice (I mean, she almost single-handedly saves her grandfather’s livelihood.)

Also shout-out to Ricky Martin (who voiced the living toy, Don Juan) and Hugh Bonneville (who played the Dickensian-esque, somewhat pointless angel investor, or something to that effect).

Sleigh-Sharing Capability: Fun For The Whole Family

After watching the sequel to a very horrible Netflix Christmas movie, I tempered my expectations for this movie. But it was actually very cute and wholesome and, while predictable, didn’t make me want to claw my eyes out! It reminded me, like The Christmas Chronicles from a few years back, of a Christmas movie that I would’ve enjoyed as a kid, especially with the CGI-ed paper-doll-esque animation bits, which I thought were very beautiful. I could see it becoming a family favorite in many households, as there’s something for everyone from Grandpa to toddler.

Recommended Level of Inebriation: A Crockpot Of Mulled Wine

You don’t NEED multiple cups of alcohol to get through this, but who doesn’t love a festive drink for the holidays? Plus, as the movie clocks in around two hours long, you’ll probably end up refilling your glass a time or two and not even realize it.

Did It Get Me In The Christmas Spirit?: Call Me Clark Griswold

Allow me to toot my own horn for a moment. While I was watching, I texted a friend who enjoys cheesy Christmas fun as much as I do, and I told her she should watch the movie and described it as “an old-timey, steampunk-y fantasy with beautiful sets and costumes that gave me the vibe of the movie Stardust.” The opening song and dance number, “This Day”, also reminded me strongly of The Greatest Showman. Afterwards, I was looking up some reviews and what to my wondering eyes should appear? Someone else who literally describes it as a “Dickensian, steampunk fantasy” and confirmed the sets were made by the designer who did Stardust and that the choreography was done by the person who did Showman. Why, yes, I am very proud of this mostly useless pop culture gift (if only bar trivia was still a thing right now! I’m on a roll!).

But, anyway, if any part of that description sounds like the movie you’re looking for this holiday season, then I don’t think you’ll be disappointed!

Stephanie (she/her) is an avid reader who moonlights at a college and calls Orlando home. Stephanie loves watching television, reading DIY blogs, planning awesome parties, Halloween decorating, and playing live-action escape games.