“Jingle Jangle” is one of the best new Christmas movies of 2020. The film is based on a family of three: the father Jeronicus Jangle (Justin Cornwell plays young Jeronicus), the mother is Joanne Jangle (young Joanna is played by Sharon Rose), and the daughter is Jessica Jangle (young Jessica is played by Diana Babnicova). The story is centered around Jeronicus who is a toymaker with an apprentice named Gustafson (played by Miles Barrow). Gustafson wants to be a great toymaker like Jeronicus, but one day gets too greedy and steals Jeronicus’s book of toy inventions. After that, things go downhill for the Jangle family: Joanne Jangle dies and after Jessica (played by Anika Noni Rose) grows up, Jeronicus (played by Forest Whitaker) pushes her away. The story then jumps a couple of years when Journey (Madalen Mills), Jeronicus’ granddaughter, comes to see him and they have the adventure of their lives.
This movie is full of African American culture, including a black cast in the Victorian period, the music, their wardrobe, and just about everything else. The director and writer, David E. Talbert, started writing the film in 1998 when he wanted to create a musical that had all of the Christmas spirit seen through the eyes of a child. He ended up stopping writing for some time. He said that it took his son’s birth for him to get the perspective he needed to finish the movie. “I was 32 when I started writing it,” says Talbert who is now 55. “I couldn’t quite access that POV [point of view] authentically,” reports Fast Company, an entertainment blog. In the making of this musical, Talbert received feedback from real toymakers which shows how much work and effort he put into the accuracy of this film.
The bond between Journey and Jeronicus was done by Talbert and his son who helped him lean into the film. “Talbert state’s that no matter how stressful things got, his son’s pure love and pure fun was the kind of joy he was able to connect and infuse in his work,” reports Fast Company. “Jingle Jangle” is a family film not only for the audience but also in its creation. Talbert got a lot of his ideas from his family, and he made sure the world knew that by making his wife a producer of the movie.
“Jingle Jangle” is available on Netflix and has been there since November 17th. The process was a little different than most productions since Netflix gave the project free creative reign. When Talbert was getting the film going, he went to the Netflix director. “Talbert told the Netflix director about how his family loves the holidays but he says ‘when we sit down every year, there’s nothing we can watch with anybody that looks like us.’ With that said, the Netflix director agreed with him and told Talbert to write his imagination and we can worry about the budget later! Talbert is hopeful that 2020 has signaled a permanent shift in entertainment companies investing the money and creative freedom for creators of color to tell their stories. I won’t go back to making a $2 movie, and I won’t allow the art to be put in a box anymore, because I have experienced what it feels like having resources and support,’ Talbert says. ‘It’s a new world for me, and I’m excited to keep pushing the boundaries,’” he told Fast Company.
Overall, I really liked this movie. The music is outstanding, and it’s nice to see more seasonal movies that include black culture. The movie has hope and joy and a strong holiday message. David E. Talbert’s journey to making this musical is magical. By seeing all the support and help that he got not only from family but real toymakers, Netflix, and the producers, it’s inspiring. Now even though “Jingle Jangle” is a musical, that should not stop you from watching an amazing movie!
Mr. Ringgold, BSAP Liaison at OMHS, also said some things about the musical. I asked him what he thought of the film and he said “I thought it was phenomenal. It really took me back to a place of innocent imagination as a child, trusting that what I believed in, that other people said was impossible, was possible.” He also said he likes how the movie portrays the importance of a relationship and what’s meaningful within yourself. “I didn’t feel like it was a 2-hour long film, it almost kind of felt like I was in a kaleidoscope of my own childhood and my imagination.” Mr. Ringgold continued, “Where there are some movies that I have watched or that you have watched and you immediately recognize the time that is left on it or the time that it has taken to watch it, but I didn’t feel that way about this.” I felt the same way when watching this movie. I was kind of tired going into watching, but this wasn’t a movie that you fell asleep during or dozed off on – this was one of those movies that wakes you up and keeps you on the edge of your seat because there was a lot of suspense about what was going to happen next.
If you like Christmas movies, then this is a movie for you, your family, and some warm hot chocolate. Happy Holidays!