A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Kids will see positive racial and gender representations in the diverse cast and also the character of a little girl with unique STEM skills.
Patience is a virtue, and so is forgiveness. Envy, crime, and greed will weaken you in the long run. Communication is essential for healthy relationships. A child's imagination is a thing to cherish, even if it makes the child different from her or his peers. Anything is possible "if you believe." The film transmits positivity, creativity, and diversity.
Positive Role Models
The ensemble cast's main characters are all Black. Jeronicus must learn to love again. His granddaughter Journey may show him how with her unconditional affection. The two share a unique gift for fantastical problem-solving and invention. Journey's character conveys that girls can excel at technology and math. Kids display great courage in trying to rescue a stolen toy. Other characters, namely Don Juan (the film's only main Latinx character) and Gustafson, lie, steal, and cheat.
Violence & Scariness
A wife and mother dies unexpectedly, leaving her husband bereft and unable to care for their daughter. A flying toy lands on a man's face and appears to burn him. Grandpa Jeronicus yells at Journey. Don Juan slaps Gustafson regularly. Two kids have to flee men chasing them and then escape a fire by riding atop a crate and flying at just the right angle through moving fan blades.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Ms. Johnston flirts shamelessly with Jeronicus. He remembers sharing a kiss with his wife. In one scene, a little boy shouts, "I don't want to die! I haven't even hit puberty yet!" In another, he admits he "really" likes Journey.
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Products & Purchases
Gustafson steals inventions in order to manufacture them as toys and increase his wealth, but Christmas is shown to be ultimately about family and traditions.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Gustafson drinks what appears to be an alcoholic drink out of a goblet.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey is an appropriate and even inspiring film for most age groups, but a couple of scenes could scare very young viewers. These include some sad moments such as when a little girl's mother dies and her father sends her away, or when the man later ignores and yells at his granddaughter. He eventually comes around and rediscovers both love and wonder. In another sequence, two kids mount a dangerous escape after they've sneaked into a palatial estate to retrieve a stolen robot. The robot thief is only comically menacing, as is the matador doll that persuades him to lie, steal, and cheat. These two characters show that envy, crime, and greed don't pay. Kids could be inspired by the mostly Black ensemble cast and the main character, a girl with a vivid imagination and a gift for technology, engineering, and math. The Christmas film also has some flashy musical numbers and positive messages about family, tradition, patience, forgiveness, and curiosity. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey is both modern and, at the same time, pleasantly old-fashioned in its magical tale, elaborate sets and wardrobes, and ensemble musical numbers. The diverse cast and some of the music give the film a decidedly contemporary feel, but the characters are played with an innocence that harkens back to an earlier era. Grown adults flirting with each other or concocting evil plans do so mostly harmlessly. Wide-eyed kids with names like Journey and Edison have active imaginations and are fascinated by inventions. All of their wardrobes are elaborate blends of plaid tweeds, jewel tones, and gadget-inspired hardware.
The film boasts an excellent, mostly Black cast, with Whitaker carrying the lead and a magnetic Mills as his granddaughter. Key and Martin are a bit over the top, but they all hold their own in song and dance pieces. Adult viewers could tire of some of the early shifts in tone from fantasy to drama to musical, then back again. At one point, the secondary characters all seem to have British accents for no apparent reason. But the two-hour movie has plenty packed in to make it enjoyable enough for the whole family. It's a professionally-produced and expensive-looking package, from the wardrobes and sets to the animated sequences and elaborate musical numbers, to the warm amber tones that ooze holiday spirit.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.