Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey
In my opinion, most of the newer Christmas movie suck. They are either too damn sweet, or they go for irreverence and just come off as nasty. Here is an exception. It’s a Netflix production, an all-new musical that takes place in a cleaned-up Dickensian world where race doesn’t matter. The characters are mostly black, but the extras are mixed, with about a third of them being white people. It’s really not a problem. In a few minutes you’ll forget about race, too. The story tells of one Jeronicus Jangle, who is the finest inventor and toymaker in town in his shop, Jangles and Things, which is filled with the most delightful and colorful inventions. But his apprentice steals the book where he has written down all his plans for more wonders. After his wife, Joanne, dies Mr. J falls into depression, unable to create anything else. His daughter Jessica, who is a dab hand at inventing, too, tries to cheer him, but nothing works. Finally she leave him, goes to live in a Thomas Kinkade cottage in the country, and has a daughter, Journey.
Thirty years pass. The role of Jeronicus transfers from Justin Cornwell to Forest Whitaker, and J&T becomes a third-rate pawn shop, full of junk. Then Journey comes to visit him, and through a lot of adventures, cleverly defeats the fabulously wealthy Gustafson, the apprentice (“Toymaker of the Year for twenty-eight Years!), played wonderfully by Keegan-Michael Key, of the comedy team of Key and Peele, and Barack Obama’s anger translator. And God bless us, every fucking one!
That’s it. And it is glorious. The sets and costumes are jar-droppingly bright and happy. The dancing numbers are big, bigger, biggest. The songs are great, and sung by folks who know how to deliver. The cast is uniformly great, led by Anika Noni Rose, who voiced Tiana in Disney’s The Princess and the Frog, and thus gave a million little black girls the chance to buy costumes and run around Disney parks. She also nailed the role of stiff-necked Mma Makutsi in the short-lived TV series set in Botswana, The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, which we loved. Highly recommended to all ages.