With current Christmas festivities and a new year around the corner, it prompts time to reflect on the journey this year has taken us on - looking at the experiences lived and the lessons learned from it. There is a quote in Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey that beautifully moves the audience to look beyond the heartache of a particular season to an outlook of gratitude, particularly for the good things that are still in our reach. Here goes the quote in the film: “The magic isn’t just in what you've lost. It’s in what you still have.”
Jingle Jangle, creatively written and directed by David E. Talbert, is a family film fit for the season. Toy inventor Jeronicus Jangle, played by Forest Whittaker, loses his spark for toy-making when his book filled with recipes for novel inventions is stolen. His granddaughter Journey Jangle attempts to help Jeronicus see the inventive ability that is still inside of him without the reliance of his handbook, though faced with much resistance from Jeronicus who seems convinced that his toy-making career is over.
Madalen Mills plays a cheerful and curiosity-driven Journey Jangle, whose name foreshadows the journey the film takes us through - an infusion of colour, music and movement. The movie is interspersed with song and dance that follow several attempts to persuade Jeronicus to believe in his talent again. We see Jeronicus’ hard exterior begin to crack in the standout snowball fight scene where he breaks out in choreography to an adapted version of the song Asew by Bisa Kdei. The tug on Mr Jangle’s creative ability continues until he gives in to hope. Journey Jangle is synonymous with the little voice that tells us to keep going - and to keep believing - when life takes an unexpected turn.
Jingle Jangle mirrors the story arc of a Christmas tale, giving us a seasonal watch for the years to come with a largely black cast. It was interesting that the cast had both American and British dialects. The contrast in accents between Journey Jangle and her partner in crime Edison, comedically played by Kieron L. Dyer, is evident but works harmoniously, adding to the characteristic theme of endless possibilities in Christmas tales.
The authentic black hairstyles in the film steal the show for me. The stunning hairstyling was spearheaded by hair designer Sharon Martin, whose aim was to create looks set within Victorian England. I am grateful that the film did not lose the authentic and beautiful texture of black hair. We see it styled beautifully - an inspiration for people to draw from.
Jingle Jangle is a timely reminder, especially in 2020, that it is possible to find your spark and motivation again when it feels like there have been setbacks. It may mean starting with what you have and finding joy in the now. Sitting down on an evening and watching a feel-good movie is also a simple statement to give room to things that bring light and laughter to our day.