Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey is the one Christmas film you should watch with the whole family this year.
Not only does the feel-good musical film radiate positivity and joy, but it is also rich in diversity, featuring an all Black/POC cast of truly amazing actors.
Set in the gloriously vibrant town of Cobbleton, the film follows legendary toymaker Jeronicus Jangle (Academy Award winner Forest Whitaker) whose fanciful inventions burst with whimsy and wonder.
But when his trusted apprentice (Emmy winner Keegan-Michael Key) steals his most prized creation, it’s up to his equally bright and inventive granddaughter (newcomer Madalen Mills) — and a long-forgotten invention — to heal old wounds and reawaken the magic within.
This enchanting film is packed full of outstanding musical numbers which will make you want to get up and dance, while equally tugging on your heart-strings, and bringing you on a rollercoaster of emotions.
From the imagination of writer-director David E. Talbert and featuring original songs by John Legend, Philip Lawrence, Davy Nathan, and "This Day" performed by Usher and Kiana Ledé, Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey reminds us of the strength of family and the power of possibility.
Ahead of the film’s premiere the SHEmazing team got the opportunity to talk to writer and director, David E. Talbert, along with the cast of Jingle Jangle. Anika Noni Rose, who of course played Disney’s first black princess, Princess Tiana in The Princess and the Frog, was proud to be a part of something which is so inclusive and diverse.
“How many Christmas movies have you seen with this many Brown faces? it’s pretty much zero. That makes it special for the children who never get to see themselves and the joy of Christmas,” she explained when talking to us over Zoom.
“I find that if I’m seeing a movie that is Christmas centric and African Americans are in it, it’s centred around lack. What they’re missing and what they wish they had, how humble they’ve been and finally they get something. This is not a story based on lack. It is a story based on joy and love and magic.”
Echoing this sentiment, Keegan-Michael Key expressed how important and rewarding it was to see the representation in the character’s costumes and accessories. “What I loved was that you would see the representation visually.”
“You would see it by the barrettes in the girls’ hair with African coloured flags or the Kente cloth that was sewn into their Victorian garb. And that to me was enough of a splash of what we needed, so that you could see both the specific racial and ethnic significance and also this overall human story being told at the same time.”
Writer and director, David E. Talbert decided he was finally going to tell this story, when his son was born, after hiding it away for over 20 years. “All the greatest memories I had as a child came from the magic and wonder in the movies I saw. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, and the original Doctor Doolittle with Rex Harrison were ones I rewatched,” Talbert explained.
“But as I’m sitting down with my son, watching these films, there was no representation or any diversity in any of them. So I wanted to revisit the joy, the magic, the wonder of my childhood, but then infuse it with people who look like me.”
“As an artist and creator, I want to make a film that inspires and entertains. I just want to have it be more representative of the world. Something that says people of colour can exist in a magical world.”
Make sure to sit down and watch Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey this festive season. Premiering on Netflix today, November 13.