Ok, so check it… I am NOT your chick-flick, Hallmark, Lifetime movie-lover. I also HATE Christmas movies (I make exceptions for The Preacher’s Wife with Whitney and This Christmas). And even though I do like a good musical every now and again, I wasn’t aware that Jingle Jangle would have singing and dancing, so I went into the movie with no expectations. I figured it couldn’t be too bad with a stellar cast that included Phylicia Rashad, Forest Whitaker, Anika Noni Rose, and Keegan-Michael Key. Thirty minutes in I was already spellbound.
A Delightful Christmas Dish
Jingle Jangle is the tale of Jeronicus Jangle (Whitaker), a great inventor who loses his zeal for creating when his most amazing invention is stolen by his trusted assistant Gustafson (Key). Jeronicus gives up hope and pushes away the only person he has left, his daughter Jessica (Rose). His crafty granddaughter, Journey (whose very much like him), finagles her way into his life and heart and helps him rediscover the magic of his gift.
The colors, the music, the set designs, the dancing, the characters, but most of all, the story captured my attention from the very beginning. Forest Whitaker delivers a flawless forlorn, ornery old coot who doesn’t want to love anyone or anything. Phylicia Rashad reminds us why she was our favorite mother, though she plays a grandmother in this story. Anika Noni Rose delivers superb vocals, as always. Ricky Martin, Keegan-Michael Key, and Lisa Davina Phillip provide us with the comic relief. Who knew Forest Whitaker and Keegan-Michael Key had nice singing voices? They didn’t even use Auto-Tune!
Black Girl Magic
A Black girl inventor who talks about square roots and derivatives is at the center of breathing life back into Jangles and Things (now they know it should have been Jangles and Thangs), the toy store turned pawn shop owned by her grandfather. Journey, played by newcomer Madalen Mills, gave me my whole life. Journey never felt like she fit in back at home. Jingles and Things and seeing her grandfather’s workshop made her feel a part of something bigger. It was a place where she knew she could shine. Every time another character slighted her by saying she couldn’t do something, she corrected them. She was the quintessential sweet granddaughter, but she would not allow her dreams to be snuffed out by anyone. It was great to see a Black female character that young step into her power. My favorite song of the film is owned by this little wonder.
I was that nerdy girl who sat in my dark room typing code on my Commodore 64 that had a switch so I could use my television as a computer monitor. I was posted-up for hours, click-clacking away so I could see a text-based car “drive” across the screen. That was when I found my love for coding and video games. No one around me knew how invasive technology would become, and no one else around me was coding. I did get a degree in coding, but I was always the only Black person and the only girl in all of my classes. I walked away from the field. What if this movie existed during that delicate time of me trying to decide if coding could be a reality in my life? How might hearing, “The Square Root of Impossible is Me,” have changed my trajectory? This is why equity in representation is so important, and not just in film and television. IT MATTERS! Our children need more opportunities to see themselves in roles outside of the repeatedly typecast characters to which we have become accustomed. They have to be able to envision themselves flying so that they may soar.
A Feel Good Film
2020 has been rough, even for those of us who kept our jobs and have been unscathed by the ‘rona so far. This movie was one of the few bright spots of the year. It made me laugh, smile, and cry; I caught ALL the feels. It filled me with joy for little brown girls and boys who will see this movie as magical and fill their small minds with endless possibilities and set their imaginations on fire. I hope that you will make them put down their electronics, pop some popcorn or make their favorite snacks, and sit with them to enjoy this film.
Joining The Ranks
I know many people have Christmas movies they watch every year as a tradition, whether a personal one or with family. My Granny’s all-time favorite was A Diva’s Christmas. It just wasn’t Christmas until she watched that movie and I would grit my teeth and bear it so I could share that time with her. I know she would have loved this movie, and I truly wish we could have seen it together. I have decided Jingle Jangle will be my Christmas movie tradition going forward, and I can’t wait until I have someone special to share it with. I’ve already watched it twice and I know I will watch it again before the holidays are over. I believe this film has earned a spot right up there with those timeless, traditional (read White) classics like It’s A Wonderful Life, A Christmas Carol, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and Miracle on 34th Street; at least it should be for us, anyway.
Thank you so much to David E. Talbert, the writer and director, for sharing this story with families this year. After the year we’ve had, the election and this movie was just the Christmas cheer I needed.
P.S. If anyone out there can get a Buddy 3000 for the low-low, holla atcho girl.