02 December 2020

Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey

Netflix's new Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey is pretty much exactly the movie it wants to be.

It is enthusiastically and directly a movie for children; its charms for adults are almost entirely incidental, but prodigious.

I am the kind of nerd who will watch a movie just to admire the production design. The sets, props, and costuming are magnificent, bursting with color, joy, and little grace notes. The vibrant palette turns the blend of Christmas Schmaltz Victoriana and Steampunk Victoriana into a distinctive world.

The actors all vibrate with delight at being unleashed by For Kids, playing for the cheap seats. Keegan-Michael Key in particular looks like he always wanted to play Evil Willy Wonka, and the kid actors are all magnetic screen presences.

There are a lot of tepid songs (with one notably killer exception near the end) but this is not wearying because almost all of them are accompanied by lively dance numbers like they don’t make any more.

Will stubborn Jeronicus Jangle learn to believe in himself again? Will earnest young Journey become a brilliant inventor in her own right? Will thieving Gustafson get his comeuppance? You know the answers.

I predict that today’s kids will make it tomorrow’s classic.

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