Jingle Jangle. A Christmas Journey. Review

The Greatest Showman was one of the most bizarre pop culture phenomena in recent memory. During its initial theatrical run, it was bait for everyone and their mother to do think pieces on what the films enduring popularity means. This was for both the theatrical community and those more concerned with what it’s successfulness would mean for those commissioning films in the future. This critic considers Jingle Jangle Showman’s first brazen rip off. Released as one of Netflix’s Christmas offerings for 2020 it’s a very well worn tail focusing on awesomely named inventor Jeronicas Jangle. (Forest Whitaker ) The central character gets all his inventions stolen by Keegan Michael Key and Ricky Martin ( the Living La Vida Loca one)whose shop then falls into disrepair. Jeronicas and his granddaughter (newcomer Madison Mills) set out to restore the shop to its former glory.
The film has won a surprising amount of acclaim and when looking at certain elements it’s not hard to see why. The production and costume design are gorgeous and do their absolute best to bring a sense of Christmas magic to what is often a rather cynical feeling production. Some superb stop motion interludes fit the tone and style of the film perfectly. It’s great to see such an underrepresented art form getting some time to shine. Keegan Michael Key is having an absolute blast as the villain and his song is charitably the only one worth remembering. Much there is stuff to love here the naked calculation in a lot of the other elements always shine through.
Within the opening three minutes, it becomes obvious just how desperate the film is to attract some of The Greatest Showman’s success. This comes through in several different ways. The incredibly overcompressed and processed sound of the songs from a musical production perspective. Bright and flashy lighting design. Very theatrical blocking and dance routines. The music always going for theatrical bombast instead of any memorable hook or lyrics. All of the core elements that make up The Greatest Showman from a style perspective are present and correct. at pretty much. The filmmakers know that this very specific style of overly theatrical presentation has a distinct audience that was already carved out by Hugh Jackman and friends, .based on reactions from critics and audiences it looks like the film is landing well with them. A film can be made for a specific audience and still be great on its terms. Regardless of whether or not it lands with that group if it possesses the same core strengths and weaknesses as other material targeted at these viewers it should still be called out on some level. Whatever piece of media can have some notable strengths not present in its very clear inspiration. This is Jingle Jangle in a nutshell. It has an audience that will love it but those not firmly indoctrinated with its very specific style may find it hard to get invested in.
Jingle Jangle is the sort of film that will cater to a very specific side of the theatrical and movie musical fandom. Specifically, the bombastic spectacle focused efforts popularised in recent years by The Greatest Showman. The film does have some elements outside of its very obvious influences that do separate it and offer something Showman cannot provide but to get the most out of the film a viewer will have to be very much on board with the inherent positives and negative qualities of its stylistic choices. Well, critics can point out the inherent flaws in these choices it doesn’t matter as long as the intended audience gets on board. From the films social media reactions and placement in the UK Netflix top ten since the release last week this appears to be the case. If the film sounds like something individuals would enjoy they might find something worthwhile. Those that aren’t into overly bombastic spectacle-driven musicals can re-watch Klaus or wait for The Christmas chronicles Part Two if they’re desperate for a new Netflix Original Christmas movie.

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