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05th Nov 2020

REVIEW: Jingle Jangle is almost every Christmas movie imaginable squashed into one

Rory Cashin

jingle jangle review

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Here is our review of Jingle Jangle, the brand new Christmas movie by Netflix.

Christmas movies are almost always lacking in subtlety. A time of year when we celebrate with over-the-top decorations, big expensive presents, and declarations of love and joy to all… it isn’t a very low-key time of year, so it makes sense that movies would want to mirror that emotional extravagance.

Step up Jingle Jangle, perhaps the least subtle of all the unsubtle Christmas movies. Here comes the plot, and prepare yourself to begin mentally checking off story beats that remind you of other classic Christmas movies…

It kicks off with a huge musical number, and a toy-inventor in the prime of his life, living his best life with his loving wife and young daughter. When his toy-maker apprentice gets fed up being overlooked, he runs away with inventor’s latest invention – a kind of sentient flamenco bull-fighter doll voiced by Ricky Martin – and between that and the sudden death of his wife, the inventor becomes disillusioned, depressed, and solitary.

Jump forward a couple of decades, and the inventor (now played by Oscar-winner Forest Whitaker) is suddenly visited by his equally inventive granddaughter (adorable newcomer Madalen Mills), who insists of forging a relationship with the grumpy old man. She discovers a long-forgotten creation of his – a cute robot that looks like a mix of Wall-E and Johnny-5 – just as the now-rich apprentice (played by Keegan-Michael Key) comes snooping for a new idea to steal and then present as his own.

We didn’t even mention The Cosby Show’s Phylicia Rashad as the sort-of-narrator of the overall story, or Downton Abbey’s Hugh Bonneville as the friendly landlord who keeps reminding us the rent is due, or the incredibly horny delivery woman with the hots for the inventor, or the John Legend-written songs that the cast burst into singing every five minutes or so.

There is so much going on that while it is never boring, it does sometimes verge on the exhausting. Writer/director David E. Talbert keeps the screen absolutely busting with lushly gorgeous costumes and set decoration, while the song and dance numbers are choreographed brilliantly, with the tune of one or two destined to live in your brain for hours and days afterwards.

While it is fantastic to see a Christmas movie with people of colour front-and-centre, it is in a movie that doesn’t have a trace of originality in its own DNA: scenes jump from The Greatest Showman to ET to Willy Wonka to The Grinch, always reminding you of other movies, and never really feeling memorable in its own right.

That by itself isn’t necessarily a bad thing – there is a certain sense of comfort coming from knowing precisely how it is all going to work out from the very first scene – but it does feel like a cover version of a greatest hits album, which feels ironic when telling a story about a genius original inventor who has all of his ideas stolen from him.

Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey is released on Netflix from Friday, November 13. You can check out the trailer right here:

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