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There’s the kind of escapist entertainment that effortlessly wafts the audience into a fantastical realm; then there’s the kind that hogties the viewers, sticks a sack over their heads and hauls them there, possibly at glitter-gunpoint. This stridently festive Netflix-produced musical falls into the latter category.
Jeronicus Jangle (Forest Whitaker) is a genius toy inventor whose creations delight children and adults alike. But he has to learn to love, and invent, again after his greatest creation and his career are stolen by his apprentice (Keegan-Michael Key, in full panto villain mode).
The story is all but obscured by the frenzy of Broadway pizzazz (writer and director David E Talbert originally conceived it as a stage production). Every frame is a spectacle crammed with somersaulting supporting cast members, skittering snowflakes, adorable urchins and plaid. Lots of plaid. The aesthetic is an explosive collision between steampunk, greetings card Victoriana and African textile prints.
It’s certainly exhausting. And it should be unbearable. But through sheer force of will, and the sterling work by a committed, largely African American cast (in particular newcomer Madalen Mills, a sparky delight as Jeronicus’s granddaughter Journey), the film works its showy magic. Or perhaps enforces its magic would be more accurate.
• On Netflix
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey review – stridently festive toyshop musical | Film