The magic of “Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey,” a fun seasonal Netflix offering, hinges on belief — in reinvention, imagination and the ability of even the most familiar stories to offer fresh lessons.
The musical adventure, written and directed by David E. Talbert, opens with a grandmother (Phylicia Rashad) telling her two grandchildren the tale of Jeronicus Jangle (played at a young age by Justin Cornwell), an inventor who has it all: a beautiful family, a successful shop filled with his whimsical inventions and the adoration of his community. That is until he is betrayed by his apprentice, Gustafson (played in younger years by Miles Barrow and at an older age by Keegan-Michael Key), who steals his most fantastical toy — an animatronic bullfighter named Don Juan Diego (voiced by Ricky Martin).
The film follows a “Christmas Carol”-style path from here: Gustafson’s betrayal breaks Jeronicus, who becomes depressed, loses his spirit for invention and becomes estranged from his daughter. Decades later, Jeronicus’s equally inventive granddaughter Journey (Madalen Mills) comes to visit the now curmudgeonly man (played brilliantly by Forest Whitaker) with the plan to help him reunite with her mother (Anika Noni Rose) and rediscover his belief.
Running a little over two hours, “Jingle Jangle”‘ is a commitment, but it does not disappoint. The movie is packed with thrilling sequences, charming songs (by Philip Lawrence, John Legend and others), flashy dance numbers and a delightful cast. Although parts of the film veer on cliché, its intentions are well-meaning and its messages about nurturing curiosity and fostering community are well worth hearing right about now.
Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey
Rated PG. Running time: 2 hours 2 minutes. Watch on Netflix.
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