JINGLE JANGLE: A CHRISTMAS STORY (2020)
Though adorable and charming from start to finish, Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey is a bit of a shallow mess that can’t overcome detrimental pacing issues, no matter how strong the actors involved are.
An apprentice steals the plans for a countless number of toys, sending a toy maker into decades of despair until his granddaughter shows up and helps him to rediscover the magic. Forest Whitaker and Keegan-Michael Key star along with Anika Noni Rose and the young, talented Madalen Mills, a cast that is full of representation and a welcomed departure from the typical white-washed musicals we always receive. As a lover of musicals for their ability to suck you in and transport you to a happier place (usually), Jingle Jangle is a bit of a disappointment. While the music is catchy and fun, it tries to do too much in that every entry has a life-altering message to communicate. Pushed up against sluggish scenes that always seem as though they are going on for 2 minutes too long, the vibe ends up lost. Young Mills is doing her best throughout to keep the story afloat, but juxtaposed against the bloated songs are lifeless characters briefly explored, but never fleshed out fully.
There was a point in the film where I thought “alright, we’re coming to the end and that is fine,” only to find out that 38 (long) minutes remained. Key is underutilized, Whitaker shows only an ounce of range during a snowball fight, and Ricky Martin’s character (through voice work) simply does not make sense.
This is a Christmas journey that is a jingle-jangled, subpar entry that unfortunately is just what you would expect from Netflix.
Photo from The New York Times