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Jingle Jangle: A Christmas JourneyJingle Jangle

  • Film
  • 3 out of 5 stars
Jingle Jangle
Photograph: Gareth Gatrell/NETFLIX

Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars

The Greatest Snowman? Netflix’s Christmas movie is a song-filled fantasia with more than enough charm to get by

A snow-dusted Victorian town and a John Legend soundtrack give this Netflix holiday movie the ecstatic feel of The Greatest Showman with a dose of the cranky-yet-sweet-natured moralising of A Christmas Carol. And while a sugar crash hits around the movie’s midway point, there’s a lot to make you feel good about David E Talbert’s tale of a toymaker who’s lost his mojo, and the estranged granddaughter who helps him find it again. Not least its mostly Black cast, which marks it out from almost every other Christmas caper before it.

Like any good festive yarn, it’s a story within a story – taking us to the world of Cobbleton, home of Jangles and Things toy store. And like a lot of us this year, its owner Jeronicus Jangle (played by Justin Cornwall in the opening number) is having a bit of an existential crisis. A young Jeronicus leaping around the scene soon becomes a weathered Forest Whitaker – who plays a sad, lonely grump with reliable skill. When granddaughter and plucky science wiz Journey (Madalen Mills) arrives for a visit, she helps him reconnect with his ‘magic’ and find the ‘square root of possible’. Admittedly, it’s a load of nonsense, but it’s Christmas, so who cares?

She’s soon trying to stop Toymaker of the Year and former Jangles apprentice Gustafson (Keegan-Michael Key, the perfect mustachioed villain and buffoon) from running off with another of grandad’s ideas, the one that could finally make him his millions. The moral of the story might be predictable – family and friends are what really make you rich in life – but it’s delivered with plenty of warmth.       

The pacing is a problem; that show-stopping opening jars with the rest of Jingle Jangle, which is a little too slow to unfold. But solid performances, a dazzlingly festive setting, elaborate period costumes and explosive gadgets provide a visual feast to rival the turkey on the table. And Forest Whitaker’s unexpectedly touching singing might be one of the best things to come out of 2020, quite frankly.  

Streaming on Netflix globally Nov 13.

Written by
Laura Richards

Cast and crew

  • Director:David E. Talbert
  • Screenwriter:David E. Talbert
  • Cast:
    • Keegan-Michael Key
    • Hugh Bonneville
    • Forest Whitaker
    • Madalen Mills
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