Jeronicus Jangle (Forest Whitaker) is an inventor of wonderful and whimsical imaginary technology and toys in the Victorian village of Cobbleton. His young apprentice Gustafson (Miles Barrow; Keegan-Michael Kay) is very bright and wants to be an inventor, too. But he betrays his benefactor and steals a mechanical toy, Don Juan Diego (voice of Ricky Martin), and runs away hoping to sell it and make millions.
Jeronicus is disappointed and loses his zest for inventing. He becomes grumpy. His relationship with his daughter, Jessica (Anika Noni Rose) deteriorates and she leaves. Years pass and the bank manager (Hugh Bonneville) threatens to foreclose on what has become Jeronicus’ pawn shop.
Unexpectedly, however, Journey (Madalen Mills) comes to visit Jeronicus. She is bright with her own inventive imagination and love for her grandfather. Healing, reconciliation, and joy follow as Christmas draws closer.
Written by playwright and screenwriter-director David E. Talbert, this is a new Christmas musical for everyone from Netflix. In his interview with me (you can see it below; about ten minutes), he said he fell in love with Victorian Christmases and movies like “Mary Poppins” and “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” but never saw himself in those films. When he and his mom used to go to the Mall every time he say a white child he thought they were magical, just like the movies. Now he wanted to make a magical holiday movie where his seven-year old son could find himself.
Talbert also says that this story is about character, family and the “power of possibility.”
Be ready to suspend your disbelief because it is a musical and the narrative is somewhat of a jangle; just go with it. “Jingle Jangle” is gorgeous to look at and with a score by John Debney and the voices of Usher and newcomer Madalen Mills are warm and beautiful. Forest Whitaker is simply one of the best.
You may also see hints of the influences of E.T., Wall-E and Peter Pan, too, in this gorgeous production.
“Jingle Jangle” is a film that can bring people together, a “space” where we can appreciate the gifts God has given all of us. The film is a celebration of explicit human values and implicit Gospel values (think inter-generational healing and reconciliation.) It is a celebration of what it means to be a person of character and hope, someone who never gives up.
Here’s more from my interview with David E. Talbert: