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Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey Movie Review - Colorful Classic

The holiday tale combines magic, math and music.

Reviewed by on Nov 12, 2020
Rating: 4 Star Rating

Kidzworld saw Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey, a singing, dancing fantasy tale with music by John Legend, Usher and more. Great choreography, costumes, sets and heart outweigh an overpacked story. Read our movie review of the new holiday classic!



In Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey, we are in Victorian England and master inventor and toymaker Jeronicus Jangle (Forest Whitaker) is the talk of Cobbleton with his whimsical, magical, mechanical creations. When he ignores his young apprentice Gustavson (Keegan-Michael Key), the frustrated boy steals his book of designs and a magical mechanical matador doll leaving him to fall into depression, despair and finally, years later, poverty. When Jangle’s brilliant granddaughter Journey (Madalen Mills) comes to visit, she discovers a long-abandoned invention that can save Jangle unless it is stolen by the now super-famous adult toymaker Gustavson.

Grandmother (Phylicia Rashad) tells the Jangle story to her grandkidsGrandmother tells the Jangle story to her grandkidsCourtesy of Netflix

The Storyteller

In present day, two children watch a fireplace during the holidays. The girl sees dancing figures in the flames but her brother does not. Their grandmother (Phylicia Rashad) opens an ancient book to tell them the tale of Jeronicus Jangle, a magical inventor of gadgets and gizmos way back in the late 1800’s and owner of uber-popular shop “Jangles and Things”. His apprentice Gustavson created an almost-working whirly gig toy that flies rather badly. Jeronicus seems too busy with his wife and daughter and his own inventions to help him make it work.

Young Jangle (Justin Cornwell) shares inventions with his daughter (Diaana Babnicova)Young Jangle shares inventions with his daughterCourtesy of Netflix

The Theft and Depression

Angry and hurt, Gustavson steals Jangle’s book of plans and inventions and takes his prize creation, a tiny, detailed, talking mechanical man dressed as a matador named Don Juan Diego (Ricky Martin) who doesn’t want to be duplicated and mass-marketed to kids. Jangle knows his daughter Jessica will also be an inventor and is proud. When he discovers the theft he gradually loses his will and ability to invent. He turns the shop into a pawnshop. His wife dies and finally, the adult Jessica (Anika Noni Rose) has to leave him to seek her own life. Meanwhile, Gustavson has used Jangle’s design book to create mega-popular toys, making him rich and famous.

Gustavson (Keegan-Michael Key) uses stolen plansGustavson uses stolen plansCourtesy of Netflix


Banker friend Mr. Delacroix (Hugh Bonneville) has to tell Jangle that if he can’t pay back all of his outstanding loans or come up with an amazing, revolutionary toy/invention by Christmas, he will be evicted. Jangle feels hopeless. Meanwhile, daughter Jessica who feels abandoned by her dad, has her own tween daughter Journey who has inherited her grandpa’s abilities for invention. Jessica sends her to stay with grandpa until Christmas. Journey is heartbroken to see that the magical store she has heard so much about is now a shabby pawnshop and grandpa isn’t that glad to see her but reluctantly lets her stay. She starts snooping around. Meanwhile, Gustavson has burned through all the inventions in Jangle’s book and needs something new. Little doll Don Juan suggests he again visit Jangle for more he can “permanently borrow”.

At first grandpa Jangle (Forest Whitaker) doesn't welcome JourneyAt first grandpa Jangle doesn't welcome JourneyCourtesy of Netflix

Journey and Edison

Journey discovers a secret workshop at the store and Jangle’s assistant Edison (Kieron L. Dyer) about her age. They find a small robot that they activate. It flies, talks and makes them levitate. It’s called Buddy 3000. From afar, Gustavson watches this happen and must have this new toy. It won’t work for Jangle because he no longer believes it can. He bans the kids from the secret workshop. Next day, Journey discovers Buddy gone and Edison tied up upstairs. Gustavson has struck! She and Edison stow away on a mail truck to Gustavson’s factory to rescue the small robot.

Older Jangle (Forest Whitaker) tries his inventor's magicOlder Jangle tries his inventor's magicCourtesy of Netflix

Will the Future Be Bright?

Once inside the factory, the kids find Buddy but getting him out won’t be easy. Can Jangle learn to believe in his own theories and get his magic back in order to help them? Will Jangle reconcile with his daughter?  Will Buddy survive to be the “revolutionary invention” banker Delacroix demands?

Journey (Madalen Mills) also has inventor magicJourney also has inventor magicCourtesy of Netflix

Wrapping Up

Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey is an upbeat tale of invention, faith in ourselves and belief in family unity that we can all use this holiday season. Fast-paced action sequences and lively dance numbers balance out the slower heart-to-heart scenes. Colorful sets and whimsical costumes transport audiences to a new, if steampunk-influenced, world however, little robot Buddy 3000 looks a little too much like Wall-E, or his grandfather at least. The CGI characters in the film are, overall, very well executed.

Madalen Mills (Journey) and her director  David Talbert on setMadalen Mills (Journey) and her director on setCourtesy of Netflix

A few logical story stopping points are passed up as the tale continues a bit beyond what would be necessary. The script could have used a bit of tightening. A “romance” between inventor Jeronicus and postmistress Ms. Johnson is a silly sidestory that takes away from the main tale. A too long snowball fight is fun but not needed. Jeronicus gives his daughter a magical necklace, that, as far as I could tell, doesn’t achieve a purpose. On the plus side, it is a wonderful idea to mix math and magic and show how this delights the young people in the story especially. We all need a few entertainments that champion STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics).

John Legend on set with Madalen (Journey)John Legend on set with Madalen (Journey)Courtesy of Netflix

Great actor Forest Whitaker seems a little miscast as the older Jeronicus Jangle. He is so soft-spoken in some scenes that I wasn’t sure what he was saying. He perks up as the character’s life changes for the better however. Tween Madalen Mills, as Journey, is certainly talented and enthusiastic and her singing voice fits the material. Songs are overall, well-sung and entertaining but there is nothing that should break the pop charts. The production was originally created as a Broadway musical and it shows with maybe a few too many songs stuffed into the story.

Jessica (Anika Noni Rose) sends daughter Journey (Madalen Mills) to her grandpaJessica sends daughter Journey to her grandpaCourtesy of Netflix

Although not perfect, this lavish holiday fantasy/musical will warm your heart and just might be something you will drag out for many holidays to come. We award a warm four stars.

Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey Movie Rating: 4

Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey Movie PosterCourtesy of Netflix

See Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey on Netflix starting November 13th

Would You Believe?

Could you believe in yourself and invent marvelous gadgets and gizmos or at least design them? Do you think parents and kids can work together, have fun and accomplish great things? What useful or fun things has your family created together? Let everyone know with a comment!