Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey Parent Guide
Netflix nails it with a Christmas tale that combines family and magic in one big, bright festive film.
Parent Movie Review
Jeronicus Jangle (Forest Whitaker) was once the greatest inventor in the world, with a toyshop thronged with customers. Years ago, he invented a spectacular living toy but it was stolen, along with his book of designs. The thief is now a wealthy toymaker while Jeronicus is widowed and struggling to hang on to his dusty toy store turned pawnshop. He’s facing a crisis: if he doesn’t pay back his bank loan or produce a revolutionary product before Christmas Day, he will lose everything. To make things worse, the thief (Keegan-Michael Key) has exhausted his catalog of purloined inventions and is now stalking him, hoping to steal one more toy.
Things look bleak, but Jeronicus has reasons to hope - if he’ll only look for them. The new toy he’s planning is remarkable and he has a granddaughter, named Journey (Madalen Mills), who has inherited his flair for creativity and the magic he has lost. When his new toy is stolen, it’s up to Journey to save the day…and her family.
Let’s get the movie’s biggest flaw out of the way first. Unless you are a passionate devotee of movie musicals, the song and dance numbers are going to bore you to death. They are unremarkable, uninspired, and highly forgettable. They also slow down the movie’s run time, dragging at the story’s pacing and pushing the show up to the two hour mark. That’s a lot for a Christmas family film and more than the narrative needs.
Thankfully, the rest of the film is far superior to the music. The visual design is distinctive, filled with bright colors and exuberant sets. This isn’t just a red and green Christmas, it’s a vibrant palette of brilliant candy colors. In a stroke of originality, the movie also uses figures in an animated pop-up book to handle expository and transition scenes. It keeps the look of the movie varied while also remaining cohesive, which is a real achievement in a children’s movie.
Also feeling fresh is the story, unusual in seasonal productions, which are often cookie-cutter copies of each other. That doesn’t mean it isn’t predictable – we all know that a children’s Christmas film is going to end happily – but it manages to tell its tale with charm and heart and just enough action. The icing on this Christmas cake is its positive messages. The movie dwells on the importance of persistence and the power that comes from believing in yourself and your abilities. It underlines the power of emotional resilience and provides a strong moral lesson about the perils of dishonesty. And there’s a bonus: this film makes math look cool. The math may well be imaginary (“the circumference of the spectacular”) but, hey, it shows math being used to make magical stuff.
From a kid’s perspective, Jingle Jangle is just plain fun. Youngsters will enjoy the enchanting toys and the snowball fight that defies the laws of physics. And, yes, they will respond to the joyful magic that comes from the story. Who knows, their parents might feel it too…Directed by David E. Talbert. Starring Forest Whitaker, Phylicia Rashad, and Keegan-Michael Key.. Running time: 122 minutes. Theatrical release November 13, 2020. Updated November 14, 2020
Watch the trailer for Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey
Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey
Rating & Content Info
Why is Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey rated PG? Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey is rated PG by the MPAA for some thematic elements and peril.
Violence: A man steals from his employer. A woman’s death is enacted by a puppet. A person is slapped in the face. A man grabs a child’s arm in a threatening fashion. A man stalks a potential competitor. Children are trapped by a fire. Children are chased and menaced. A man is wrongfully accused of theft.
Sexual Content: A woman throws herself into a man’s arms. A woman strokes an unwilling man. A man kisses a woman on the cheek. A man kisses a male friend on the cheek.
Profanity: None noted.
Alcohol / Drug Use: None noted.
Page last updated November 14, 2020
Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey Parents' Guide
It looks like Gustafson benefits from his theft: he becomes wealthy and famous. But Gustafson pays a price for stealing from his employer. How does this theft hurt him in the short term and long term? If you cheat or copy from someone else at school, do you experience some of the same consequences as Gustafson?
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Related home video titles:
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A desperate postman persuades a reclusive toymaker to give his toys to children in their northern town in Netflix’s animated feature, Klaus
The Nutcracker and the Four Realms features Clara, a young girl whose godfather is a toymaker with connections to a magical world.