Tuesday Review – Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey (2020)

films, reviews

Rating: 3 out of 5.

I’ll tell you what, the 25th really can’t come quickly enough for my liking. I am so tired and really craving a break. Which is another reason why my heart really isn’t in this post. It’s probably going to be a fairly quick one because it’s quite late as I’m writing this. I’m also currently listening to a Spotify playlist called Christmas Lullabies so I can feel festive and get ready for sleep. I’ll be honest, I’m not feeling particularly festive right now. No matter how hard I try, it’s just not there right now. Watching a Christmas film every day hasn’t done much to help but that’s possibly due to the films I’ve been watching. They weren’t necessarily the best of the bunch. I’d better get round to my favourites soon or I’ll run out of time.

One of my recent watches has been this new festive offering from Netflix. I know that the platform isn’t exactly known for it’s quality Christmas content but this one looked different. It didn’t seem like another campy A Christmas Prince style cheese-fest. It actually looked, dare I say it, fun but on purpose. I also think the fact that it starred Forest Whitaker also helped push me into watching it. After all, I couldn’t see him signing up to star in something like The Princess Switch. I admit, I was a bit wary of the whole steampunk angle because I feel like this is a gimmick that so many filmmakers regularly fallback on. It’s not always used well and it just gets a bit tiresome.

The reason for the steampunk is because this is the story of an inventor who makes magical toys. Or at least he used to until his apprentice stole his idea book. This starts the decline of Jeronicus Jangle’s business and, after losing his wife, the man becomes a shell of his former self. Years later, he is visited by his granddaughter who has inherited the gamily inventor gene. Can she reignite her grandfather’s creativity and help get him back on top? Especially now his ex-apprentice, Gustafson, has used up all of Jangle’s old ideas and is looking for his next big hit. Will he succeed in stealing the secret that’s been hiding in Jeronicus’ workshop for years?

In terms of the story, this is a film that tries to do an awful lot. There are so many plot strands to get through and it all just gets muddled. There are estranged daughters to deal with, possible love interests, a talking toy, an young aspiring inventor, money issues, rent problems, new inventions, rescue missions, snowball fights and much more. It’s a film that tries to do grand things but it really does suffer from putting too much on its plate. The set up to the story goes on a little too long which means the ending is rushed. You don’t really get enough time to appreciate the final reveal of Jangle’s latest invention. The storytelling is just muddled and the pace never feels quite right.

However, this is quite a sweet little Christmas film. Much in the same way with The Greatest Showman, the joy of this lies more in the musical numbers than it does in the actual story. The cast includes some fantastic singers and some talented songwriters. This leads to plenty of absolute bangers and genuinely good songs. What it lacks in story, this film more than makes up with performances. It’s hard not to get caught up in the music and dance numbers. I may not have been too sure what was happening or why but I was having a bloody good time.

Admittedly, it’s an overly sweet film that is heavy-handed with its overriding message. It’s probably a bit too sugary for most people but there is a lot to enjoy despite that. The framing narrative involves a grandmother telling her grandchildren the story of a great inventor. As she tells the story, we see it come to life through spectacular stop-motion animation. Then there is the choreography which is incredible. And don’t get me started on the costume, hair and make-up. It’s all exquisite. This is a film that was made with love and care. It’s just a massive shame that the story lets it down.

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