A lot or a little?
What 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.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Jeronicus Jangle (Forest Whitaker) is a fantastical inventor who has fallen on hard times and faces closure of his once-merry store in JINGLE JANGLE: A CHRISTMAS JOURNEY. In fact, his bad luck began years earlier when disgruntled apprentice Gustafson (Keagan-Michael Key) started stealing his best inventions, including and encouraged by the talking matador doll, Don Juan (Ricky Martin). Then Jeronicus' wife dies and his daughter moves away. Flash forward many years to a first visit from his granddaughter, Journey (Madalen Mills). Jeronicus must now find a way to open himself up to love again and also to save his store from bankruptcy. The only insurance the bank will accept is a revolutionary new invention.
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.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the genre of Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey. Would you characterize this film as a musical, a drama, an adventure, a comedy, or some combination of genres?
What time period do you think this film is set in? Judging by the people, their accents, wardrobes, and the look of the town, where would you guess this is set?
Have you seen very many holiday family films with mostly Black casts? Why is this representation important?
Jeronicus Jangle's store is known as a "World of Wishes and Wonder." How do the concepts of "wishes" and "wonder" relate to the rest of this film?
- On DVD or streaming: November 13, 2020
- Cast: Forest Whitaker, Keegan-Michael Key, Phylicia Rashad
- Director: David E. Talbert
- Studio: Netflix
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: STEM, Magic and Fantasy, Music and Sing-Along
- Character strengths: Communication, Curiosity
- Run time: 122 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: some thematic elements and peril
- Awards/Honors: Common Sense Selection
- Last updated: March 19, 2021
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