Golden Girl/Brillstein Entertainment/Partners/Burr Productions/Get Lifted Film Company/260 Degrees Entertainment/Netflix
Written and Directed by David E. Talbert
Produced by Lyn Sisson-Talbert/David E. Talbert/Kristen Burr/John Legend/Mike Jackson/David McIlvain
Music by John Debney
Cinematography by Remi Adefarasin
Edited by Michael Tronick/Joe Galdo/Virginia Katz
Steamfunk is defined as a philosophy or style of writing and visual aesthetic that combines the African and / or African American culture and approach to life with that of the steampunk philosophy and / or steampunk fiction and cosplay.
I thought it fitting to start off this review with this definition because while I have absolutely no way of knowing if David E. Talbert is familiar with the genre of Steamfunk, I do feel quite strongly that with JINGLE JANGLE: A CHRISTMAS JOURNEY he has given us what may be the first true Steamfunk movie. And for more information about Steamfunk I direct you to The Chronicles of Harriet, the website of the extraordinary writer/martial artist/teacher/Afrofuturist Balogun Ojetade and if you peruse it with patience and diligence you will discover the world of Steamfunk which is indeed a thriving and vibrant genre.
I have to thank my wife Patricia for making me watch this movie as because being a notorious Scrooge I actively resist anything and everything having to do with Christmas before December 1st. I know that for a lot of people, the Christmas holiday season starts the day after Halloween. I tend to stay away from them people.
But this year has been a troubling one, to say the least. And so, I take every and any opportunity to watch anything that will lift my spirits and put a smile on my face and that’s exactly what JINGLE JANGLE: A CHRISTMAS JOURNEY did. Time will only tell if this will become a Christmas Classic that is watched every Christmas season and passed on down from one generation to another. But I do hope it is. This Christmas season with Covid-19 rampaging through the country there’s few opportunities for families to go out and enjoy a movie, play or Christmas show. I think that JINGLE JANGLE: A CHRISTMAS JOURNEY fills that need quite well. It’s a wonderful movie for the whole family to sit down and watch together and if you haven’t done so yet, I sincerely hope my humble review will persuade you to do so with your family.
JINGLE JANGLE: A CHRISTMAS STORY starts off the best way any good stories do: as a bedtime tale a grandmother (Phylicia Rashad) tells to her grandchildren and it begins with the most magically evocative beginning of all: “Once Upon A Time…”
She tells them the tale of the world’s greatest inventor/toymaker, Jeronicus Jangle (Justin Cornwall/Forest Whitaker) who at long last has created his greatest invention: Don Juan Diego (Ricky Martin) a matador doll that he has actually brought to life and gifted with self-awareness and sentience. Jeronicus looks forward to mass-producing the doll for every boy and girl in the world but Diego has other ideas. Terrified at the idea of losing his uniqueness, Diego persuades Jeronicus’ dissatisfied apprentice Gustafson (Miles Barrow/Keegan-Michael Key) to steal Jeronicus’ Book Of Inventions and go into business for himself.
Jeronicus falls into a deep depression at not only this betrayal of his trust but the death of his beloved wife Joanne (Sharon Rose). His daughter Jessica (Diaana Babnicova/Anika Nona Rose) eventually moves away, unable to deal with her father’s overwhelming unhappiness. She achieves some measure of success as an inventor in her own right and has a daughter, Journey (Madalen Mills) who is also quite the impressive inventor in her own right as she shares with her grandfather and her mother a gift to visualize The Square Root of Possible which enables them to achieve great intuitive leaps of imagination and intellect to create inventions bordering on the magical.
After thirty years of separation from her father, Jessica sends Journey to Jeronicus to mend the relationship between them. Jeronicus has his own problems as the bank is threatening to foreclose on his workshop/store which is now a pawnshop. Gustafson also has his own problems as he’s exhausted all the inventions in the book and desperately needs a new one, preferably one he can steal from Jeronicus. And yes, Jeronicus has one last great invention he has never revealed. But he will need to regain the spirit of the man he used to be in order to make it work. And what better time than Christmas to regain your belief in yourself with the help of your family?
I feel I overuse the word ‘charming’ in a lot of my reviews but hey, if that’s what I movie does to me, that’s the word I gotta go with. And JINGLE JANGLE: A CHRISTMAS JOURNEY did charm me. I absolutely was dazzled by the cinematography and the costuming. I did so enjoy seeing Forest Whitaker in a musical. I have no idea if he is actually doing his own singing and you know what? I don’t care if he didn’t. I didn’t look it up for this review because I prefer to believe he did. So there. He looks like he’s having so much fun in this type of movie. Especially in a wonderful scene where a snowball fight turns into an African dance-off involving everybody in the town it looked like to me.
Ricky Martin is downright amazing as Diego and Lisa Davina Philip cracked me up as Mrs. Johnston, the town’s postal worker who is so in love with Jeronicus and apparently travels everywhere with her own trio of male backup singers just in case she’s gotta break out in song to inform us and Jeronicus how much she loves him.
Chances are you’re gonna be in the house this Christmas holiday season anyway and need something to watch. Put JINGLE JANGLE: A CHRISTMAS JOURNEY on your list. It’s bright, it’s extremely well made, it’s colorful, it’s got good songs, good performances and most of all, it’s fun. And we all need that now. Enjoy and God Bless Us, Everyone.
You got Netflix? Good. It’s streaming on there exclusively.