3.5/10 It’s that time of year when film goers and particularly families with younger children are looking for new Christmas films to check out so Mom and Dad can be spared from watching “Home Alone” for the 47th day in a row. No offense to “Home Alone” but damn near any film played repeatedly is enough to make any sane adult fill their child’s Christmas stocking full of bars of soap and go to town. Anyways, I thought I’d check out a newer Christmas movie, the original musical “Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey”. While the title is overly long and “Jingle Jangle” would have been fine, this movie is admirable for trying something new but ultimately falls short under the weight of its weak script and cheesy special effects. I do applaud several aspects of the movie, however. It is always admirable to attempt to make an original musical, not based upon previous source material like a Broadway musical. The production and costume design are both unique and well fleshed out in creating this fictional universe, which is told within a story, similar to “The Princess Bride”. Most of the casting works, particularly the children as Madalen Mills (Journey) is a revelation as she can act, sing and dance. Despite her young age, she seems extremely comfortable on screen and acting alongside much more seasoned veterans such as Forest Whitaker. The overarching story is decent, even if its connection to Christmas is very loose. Finally, the song “Square Root of Possible” is easily the best song in the movie that stayed with me for the longest amount of time afterwards. Unfortunately, that’s where the positives end. While on the subject of music, despite the one strong song, every other song in the entire soundtrack is as forgettable and disposable as torn up Christmas gift wrapping. The choreography is cheesy but I guess that matches the over the top feel that the entire movie has. Despite Whitaker being an Oscar winning actor, he isn’t known for his singing and it shows here. A couple of aspects flat out do not work. A bit plot point is that the villain, Gustafson (Keegan-Michael Key) steals a book of Jeronicus’s (Whitaker) inventions and makes them all, claiming to be their creator. At no point does Jeronicus go to the police or try to bring awareness to the public that these are all actually his inventions or try to disprove Gustafson, which felt silly. The character of Journey also happens to be a total Mary Sue. I get that she is related to Jeronicus but her talents felt completely unearned. There is also a ridiculous scene with two kids fleeing an over the top fiery explosion which was dumb from start to finish. One female’s character who is a postal worker has her entire personality just be that she is thirsty as Hell for Jeronicus, which felt odd to stick into a children’s movie. At two hours long, the movie also goes on too long and could have benefitted from trimming about 15 minutes. The message aimed at kids is “You just have to believe” which seems like a silly moral message to tell children since just believing in something in no way makes it come true. There were other moral messages the movie could have focused on that would have been more constructive (don’t steal from others, always stay close to family) but they instead went for the nonsensical message. In the end, I do believe children (who can sit still for two full hours) will enjoy the bright color palette, song and dance numbers and toys coming to life but with so many better options for Christmas movies out there, this forgettable movie will never take its place among the Christmas classics that families throw on each and every December.
#JangleUnchained / #MusicByJourney / #Key&Steal / #BlackNativity2 / #ImDreamingOfABlackChristmas / #SleighingWithFire

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