Review by Dearbhla Shirt
I am a sucker for a Christmas film – and no, I don’t think November is too early to start watching them. As a festive movie connoisseur, I know what it takes to make a film suitable for the holidays. Jingle Jangle (David E. Talbert, 2020) has it all: a grumpy old man who needs to find Christmas spirit, joyful child protagonists, a glamorous villain driven by capitalism, a damaged family relationship, and it’s a musical. What more could you want?
This film is The Greatest Showman (Michael Gracey, 2017) crossed with the aesthetics of Paddington (Paul King, 2014) and the Christmas spirit of Miracle on 34th Street (George Seaton, 1947). Opening with a grandmother reading a story to her grandchildren, the book comes to life, creating the setting of the movie. The film takes place in a world that looks Victorian in setting and costume, but is without the constraints of historical accuracy. Instead of grey Dickensian grunge and hardship, we get the technicolour experience of a toymaker-inventor named Jeronicus Jangle (Forest Whitaker). Jangle becomes the owner of a pawn shop when his Book of Inventions is stolen by no other than a disgruntled apprentice and an arrogant, self-absorbed, manipulative matador in the form of a toy come to life. A grim (yet still colourful) banker, played by Hugh Bonneville, advises the ageing Jangle of his impending bankruptcy unless he can come up with a miraculous invention. All hope seems lost until the child of his estranged daughter comes to stay for Christmas. This little girl named Journey (Madalen Mills) injects Jeronicus’ life with inspiration and happiness it seems he forgot existed. His current apprentice, a nervous and pernickety boy named Edison, provides comic relief.
Not to spoil the film but, as all Christmas films do, this one ends with a miracle. If you love Christmas like me, I would suggest you watch this; it may not be immediately gripping but provides smiles, fun and laughter, and acts as the perfect tonic for end-of-semester stress. Now go put on Mariah Carey and indulge yourself in festivity.