Jingle Jangle Review: Netflix's holiday musical is a forgettable gift
This Netflix holiday musical shows potential with its casting, visuals, and music, but is let down by monotonous writing.
This Netflix holiday musical shows potential with its casting, visuals, and music, but is let down by monotonous writing. David E Talbert’s Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey feels like a gift from Santa meant to act as a mood booster in times of a pandemic. The gift box is shiny and full of glitter, but inside, it’s pretty much what you get during this time year after year.
A grandma’s (Phylicia Rashad) bed-time story revolves around the life of Jeronicus Jangle (played by Justin Cornwell and Forest Whitaker), the greatest inventor of all-time and the proprietor of Jangles and Things Toy Shop, who loses everything when his apprentice, Gustafson (Keegan-Michael Key) steals his book of inventions. The death of Jeronicus’ wife Joanna Jangle (Sharon Rose) further takes away the ‘magic’ from him, and he sends his daughter, Jessica Jangle (Anika Noni Rose) away, until his granddaughter, Journey Jangle (Madalen Mills) comes back to stay with Jeronicus. What happens after she discovers “a sensational invention” makes the rest of the story.
To be fair, this Netflix film doesn’t pretend to be a whole new retelling with never-seen-before tropes. And we appreciate that it teaches inclusivity in a fairly entertaining package filled with festive music and joy. This inclusivity can be seen even in its Black-dominated cast, with each of the actors bringing to the table something unique. The performances are this film’s strong forte, with senior actors such as Phylicia Rashad, Forest Whitaker, Justin Cornwell and Keegan-Michael Key really bringing in their A game. Among the highlights, are a brilliantly shot snowball fight scene, great choreography and picturisation of this musical’s many songs.
Coming to the real bit that makes or breaks a film or web series—the story or the plotline, if you please—well, the less said about it, the better. It is exhausting, to say the least. There isn’t a single moment of anticipation or surprise in the dull, predictable unfolding of the events that is this film. No matter how good Keegan-Michael Key is, it doesn’t stop the character from being wholly forgettable, thanks to the writing. The weak writing is particularly evident during, what should have been a game-changing scene at the toy factory. This film, which should have ended on a high, is underwhelming even during the climax.
If you are the sort though to be content with pretty-looking things and some feel-good music, this one will be right up your alley. Only you will remember very little, a week later.