This Brand-New Netflix Holiday Musical Has a Perfect Score on Rotten Tomatoes—and I Can See Why
*Warning: Minor spoilers ahead*
OK, I know it’s not even Thanksgiving yet. But I'll forever defend that once Halloween is over, it’s officially acceptable to begin watching Christmas movies. So, when I learned that Netflix was bringing a handful of new holiday films to the platform, I was excited, to say the least.
After watching Holidate, my expectations were, well, not the highest. However, I decided to give another Netflix original, Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey, a shot. And I can say I was pleasantly surprised.
So, what is Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey about? And is it worth the watch? Keep reading for my honest review.
1. WHAT IS 'Jingle Jangle' ABOUT?
From creator David E. Talbert, Jingle Jangle is a holiday musical centered around a toy inventor (no, not Santa Claus) who loses everything when he is betrayed by his most trusted apprentice. Thirty years later, it takes the help of his granddaughter to get back the magic of Christmas and save his life’s work. Not to mention, it’s led by a star-studded cast of mostly Black actors, including Forest Whitaker, Keegan-Michael Key, Phylicia Rashad and more.
The film’s official synopsis reads. “A musical adventure and a visual spectacle for the ages, Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey is a wholly fresh and spirited family holiday event. Set in the gloriously vibrant town of Cobbleton, the film follows legendary toymaker Jeronicus Jangle, whose fanciful inventions burst with whimsy and wonder. But when his trusted apprentice steals his most prized creation, it’s up to his equally bright and inventive granddaughter—and a long-forgotten invention—to heal old wounds and reawaken the magic within. From the imagination of writer-director David E. Talbert and featuring original songs by John Legend, Philip Lawrence, and Davy Nathan, Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey reminds us of the strength of family and the power of possibility.”
2. Is it worth the watch?
While at first I was a bit skeptical about a Christmas movie without a Santa Claus, reindeer, the North Pole and all of the other things that come along with a usual holiday classic, my mind was quickly changed after the first twenty minutes. (I shouldn’t be surprised, considering Rotten Tomatoes gave the movie a perfect score.) It’s clear that Jangle’s talent as a toy inventor is equal to than that of the big man himself. Plus, the wonders of the colorful shop, Jangles and Things, make viewers feel like they're taking a trip to the North Pole—minus the elves, of course. So my immediate fear of the movie lacking that Christmasy quality was quickly put to rest.
The entire film is reminiscent of big-studio musicals (think Oliver!) and Broadway plays with giant singing and dancing ensembles coming and going—starting with the first musical number, “Today.” The vibrant Victorian-esque costumes are an added bonus.
In my less-than-rotten-tomatoes-worthy opinion, although the entire cast does an incredible job of capturing the magic and whimsy of the holiday, Jordan Peele, Ricky Martin and newcomer Madlen Mills are absolutely what sold me on this one. Not only was their acting, or in Martin’s case, voiceover work, way more sophisticated than what we’d get from our usual choice in Christmas Hallmark movies, but their musical numbers brought a Disney feel to the flick (especially, in one Peter Pan-like scene where children are flying around the room and singing). However, it was tough at times to look at Peele as an evil villain.
My only criticism of the film? I would have enjoyed one or two more Christmas-centered songs, rather than interior monologue numbers about the characters’ feelings. Perhaps I’m getting too nit-picky, but I can’t help but crave a song like “Believe” from the Polar Express.
Overall, Jingle Jangle is pure, simple fun for the whole family (especially the snowball fight scene where everyone breaks out in a dance). And we wouldn’t be surprised if becomes one of the classics.