Photo | “JINGLE JANGLE: A CHRISTMAS JOURNEY” | Golden Girl
The need for holiday movies to watch at home has never been greater, and Netflix has answered the call with the musical extravaganza “Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey,” starring Forest Whitaker and Keegan-Michael Key as competing toymakers. Full of sparkles, singing and lots and lots of beautiful plaid, the John Legend-produced confection is — despite the aforementioned singing — not as cheesy as you might expect.
Even though it has the framing device of a Christmas story being read on Christmas Eve, “Jingle Jangle” manages to dodge a lot of holiday clichés. No one even learns the true meaning of Christmas! If this movie is derivative of anything, it is very similar to “The Greatest Showman.” The music and choreography are highly reminiscent of that popular musical, hitting an almost identical sound of contemporary music with a stage feel. People in red tailcoats stomp-dance in an anachronistic manner in the streets, so, if you liked “The Greatest Showman,” you will like this.
When the story begins, Jeronicus Jangle is a gifted inventor with a devoted wife and daughter. His toy shop is a wonder of gears and gadgets, and this was my favorite aspect of the film; we seem to be suckers for clockwork design elements in my house. My son didn’t want to watch it because it was a musical, but was hooked from the first shiny minutes of nifty gears and toys.
As Jeronicus and his crew celebrate the arrival of an important ingredient, a magical goo that will bring toys to life, revolutionizing the toy business and the Jangles’ fortune, a jealous apprentice named Gustafson ruins everything. Jeronicus’s life goes downhill, and the film jumps to the future, where Gustafson is grown up and played by Keegan-Michael Key, and Jeronicus is older and sadder and played by Forest Whitaker.
The elements of festive plaid costumes, clockwork gadgets and living toys then join forces with sassy youngsters for the rest of the action-packed story, as Jeronicus’s granddaughter, Journey, tries to revive her grandfather’s shop by repairing yet another wondrous mechanical creature. It’s fun and exciting, but the particulars escape me. They go to Gustafson’s factory and there’s a robot, chasing, more singing … It doesn’t make that much sense, but it’s colorful. I’m pretty sure characters fly at some point, but I haven’t been sleeping well, so I can’t be sure.
Instead of learning the true meaning of Christmas, “Jingle Jangle” focuses on a message of believing in yourself. The focus is way more on the “journey” than the “Christmas” part, and perhaps this quality will extend its watchability a little. With everything canceled and the walls closing in, we are surely about to find out just how many times the human spirit can endure “Jingle Jangle.” At first, I thought the music was a little forgettable, but check back with me in two weeks — I bet I’ll know every inspirational word, personally affirming rhyme and mildly derivative tune. I may also be moved to wear more plaid.
“Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey” is streaming on Netflix.
New This Week:
“Ammonite”: Acclaimed paleontologist Mary Anning (Kate Winslet) works alone selling common fossils to tourists to support her ailing mother, but a chance job offer changes her life when a visitor hires her to care for his wife (Saoirse Ronan) and the women forge a bond. And by bond, I mean forbidden love. Crescent Theater.
“The Climb”: Kyle and Mike are best friends who share a close bond — until Mike sleeps with Kyle’s fiancée. “The Climb,” which seems to refer to cycling uphill, not mountain climbing, is about a tumultuous but enduring relationship between two men across many years of laughter, heartbreak and rage. AMC Mobile 16, AMC Classic Wharf 15.
“The Croods: A New Age”: The prehistoric Croods need a new place to live. When they discover an idyllic, walled-in paradise that meets all their needs, they think their problems are solved … except for one thing: Another family already lives there. All listed multiplex theaters, Nexus Cinema Dining.
A variety of seasonal movies are playing at all listed multiplex theaters, including “Elf,” “Frozen,” A Christmas Story,” “The Holiday” and “The Santa Clause.” The Mobile Saenger will be playing “It’s A Wonderful Life” (Friday, Dec. 4 at 7 p.m.) and “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” (Sunday, Dec. 6 at 3 p.m.). Santa Claus will be at the theater before each of the movies to hear what’s on your Christmas list and take pictures! Santa’s helpers will be on hand to assist and ensure that all health and safety protocols are met during your visit. Doors will open one hour prior to showtime to give patrons ample time for this festive experience. Ticket prices are $6 for adults and $3 for children 12 and under and seniors (60+). All movies will be general admission and seating will be on a first-come-first-served basis.
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