Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey: Christmas in July Blogathon 2021

Hello, friends!

Welcome to day 2 of the Christmas in July Blogathon 2021! Today, SG from Rhyme and Reason joins us again this year with his unique combination of poetry and film review. SG’s approach to film reviews is unlike any other blogger out there so definitely go check his blog out! For this year’s blogathon, SG reviews a Netflix Christmas film released during last year’s holiday season. Take it away, SG!

Is your life not the dream-come-true fiction has taught?
Were not all your hopes quite achieved?
Did you think yourself special, then found that you’re not,
As so many others believed?

It’s commonplace now to have cynical minds.
We’re all disillusioned these days.
When searching for misery, he who seeks finds,
And evils no longer amaze.

What happened to when we were wide-eyed and young,
And no one could dampen our zeal?
We reached for the fruit that was not lowest hung,
And life was more hope than ordeal.

Who says that such days are behind you? You do,
For no one has made you despair.
Hope, like surrender, is chosen. Who knew?
It needs but the courage to dare.

MPA rating:  PG

A huge thank you to Drew for having me again for this year’s Christmas in July Blogathon, an occasion I always look forward to for some midyear holiday cheer. You would think that I would have seen more movies over the last year, considering I’ve been cooped up in my house for most of it, but school has kept me plenty busy instead. However, I had a break last December and was delighted to see this Netflix Christmas musical. Since I watched it after Christmas had already passed, I knew it would be a perfect selection for Christmas in July, especially because its appeal extends beyond the holidays.

Indeed, Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey may have Christmas in the name and plenty of yuletide trappings, practically being set in a version of Santa’s village, but its story of a disillusioned inventor (Forest Whitaker) who is re-inspired by his granddaughter Journey (Madalen Mills) isn’t inherently centered around Christmas (aside from the frame story featuring Phylicia Rashad). That makes it suitable viewing for any time of year, even as it pushes the wonder, magic, family togetherness, and such associated with Christmastime.

With thirty minutes of backstory alone to explain how Whitaker’s Jeronicus Jangle went from superstar inventor to cynical pawnbroker, the film is perhaps a bit too stuffed with story, feeling rather long at two hours. Yet musical numbers go a long way toward easing the occasional dip in pacing, at least for people like me who adore musicals and want more and more to be made. Not only is Jingle Jangle an entirely original production, but it has a highly polished and catchy soundtrack from John Legend and Philip Lawrence, sounding most similar to The Greatest Showman and elevated further by bravura choreography to complement the tunes. Forest Whitaker and Keegan-Michael Key, who plays Jangle’s former apprentice-turned-villain, are not known for singing, but they do well here, with even more capable support from professionals like Anika Noni Rose as Jangle’s daughter, Lisa Davina Phillip as a mailwoman desperate to be his love interest, and Ricky Martin as a sinister matador doll come to life.

The fact that the film is an original, not based on some preexisting stage show, is significant to me, showing that studios like Netflix are willing to bankroll new musicals without a preexisting fan base. Also noteworthy is the film’s predominantly black cast, who get to enjoy a picturesque, snowy setting and lavish Victorian costumes that are typically reserved for white-led musicals. The film’s clearly fantastical setting sidesteps any objections about historical accuracy and instead presents the fully integrated, steampunk-lite world as a wonderland for all. There have been African-American interpretations of established stories like Cinderella or A Christmas Carol, but I can’t help but feel like an original story like this means more.

Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey is the kind of film that succeeds in imparting a smile and good cheer, buoyed by exuberant song-and-dance numbers and feel-good mathematical nonsense like “the square root of impossible” or the “second derivative of sensational.” It may not be quite a masterpiece: not every song is memorable, the WALL-E-like robot that seems intended as the film’s mascot doesn’t leave much of an impression, and the ending is a tad anticlimactic. Yet, from the stellar opening song “This Day” to the heartwarming bond between Jangle and his daughter, there’s something utterly likable about the film, reminiscent perhaps of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang with its gadgets and whimsy. I mean, the production design alone deserved an Oscar nomination, in my opinion, not to mention the magical interludes of wooden-doll-style animation that move the story along. It may be overly sweet for musical naysayers, but I have little doubt that Jingle Jangle is destined to be a Christmas tradition for many families.

Best line: (Journey) “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.”

Rank:  List Runner-Up

© 2021 S.G. Liput
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P.S. For my mistletoe choice, I think I’ll invite Ana de Armas, who I like more with every role of hers I’ve seen, particularly Knives Out. Attractive and talented is quite the combination.

I’m glad you chose to invite Ana de Armas to our party, SG. If you didn’t, I certainly was going to. 😁

At tomorrow’s halfway mark of the blogathon, the self-proclaimed Christmas enthusiast shares her review of an animated Christmas film celebrating its tenth anniversary this year.

Until next time, cheers!