Review: 'Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey' full of festive fun

Netflix title an early Christmas gift for families

Adam Graham
Detroit News Film Critic
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There's plenty of eye-popping visual whiz-bang in "Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey," a fresh, fun Noel musical that's well-suited for the whole family. 

Writer-director David E. Talbert (2016's "Almost Christmas") packs his holiday fantasy with fantastical choreographed dance numbers, lively action sequences and a fair amount of heart. It's an instantly familiar story that should resonate with viewers throughout this yuletide season and many to come. 

Forest Whitaker in "Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey."

Jeronicus Jangle is an inventor and toymaker whose creations are the stuff of childhood dreams. When his jealous apprentice, Gustafson, steals his book of ideas, Jangle is forced into poverty, while Gustafson becomes one of the toy world's greatest success stories. Jangle teams up with his granddaughter who helps him rediscover his inner genius and return to glory, just in time for Christmas. And there's even a snowball fight thrown in for good measure. 

Forest Whitaker plays the elder Jangle, and Detroit's Keegan-Michael Key hams it up as Gustafson, who struts his stuff through his big production number, "Magic Man G," like he has something to prove.  

So does Talbert. He stuffs "Jingle Jangle" with inventive toys — kids will want their own Don Juan Diego and Buddy 3000 dolls — catchy songs and a joyously festive attitude, as well as wondrous costumes and thrilling production design.

There's nothing quiet or low-key about Talbert's ambition or drive: he's out to make a holiday classic, and if he doesn't get there, he's scored an admirable entry in the seasonal canon. And for singing, dancing, Christmastime entertainment, it's "Jingle" all the way.

agraham@detroitnews.com

@grahamorama

'Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey'

GRADE: B+

Rated PG: for some thematic elements and peril

Running time: 121 minutes

In theaters Friday, on Netflix Nov. 13

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