Gather the whole family, make some cups of hot cocoa, and watch Netflix’s Jingle Jangle: A Christmas
Journey. This colorful, holiday musical hits the mark and delivers the feels we all need right now.
Academy Award Winner, Forest Whitaker, stars as Jeronicus Jangle, the world’s preeminent toymaker.
Jeronicus experiences a downfall when his apprentice, Gustafson, played by Keegan-Michael Key,
betrays him by stealing his most cherished toy and book of toy inventions. Jeronicus’ estranged
daughter is played by Disney princess, Anika Noni Rose, and newcomer Madalen Mills shines as his
granddaughter, Journey. A special treat- the film opens with the legendary Phylicia Rashad reading
Jeronicus’ story to her grandchildren.
Aside from the mega star power, dazzling music and dance numbers, Jingle Jangle impresses with
fantastic visual effects. Lisa Davina Phillip, who plays Ms. Johnston, delivers a bright, soulful
performance that will bring a smile to your face each time she graces the screen.
Black children will watch this film and see themselves and their families represented. They will also be
reminded of the power of believing in themselves. Written and directed by David Talbert and produced
by Lyn Sisson-Talbert, the musical celebrates Blackness through and through.
Throughout history, Black women have endured race-based discrimination because of our hair textures
while attending work, school and social events. Many Black women have altered their natural hair
texture with the intention of blending in predominantly white spaces and meeting white standards of
beauty. Jingle Jangle is an unapologetic celebration of the normalcy of natural, Black beauty. Phylicia
Rashad, Anika Noni Rose, Madalen Mills, Lisa Davina Phillip and Sharon Rose wear royal, natural
hairstyles throughout the film, an intentional decision by Lyn Sisson-Talbert. This representation of
natural Black beauty allows Black women and girls to see themselves on screen in a way they haven’t
seen themselves before- ideal, centered and illustrious.
Hair and makeup designer Sharon Martin meticulously created authentic, Victorian era Black hairstyles.
These timeless styles are just as striking today as they were during the late 1800s in England. Madalen
Mills’ hair is neatly sectioned, pinned up into a faux hawk and embellished with gold hair ornaments.
Phylicia Rashad stuns with beautifully shaped, regal, salt and pepper dreadlocks, reminiscent of the late
and legendary, Toni Morrison. Anika Noni Rose has large winding twists pinned at the top of her hair
with golden hair jewelry and a long braid falling at her side. Forest Whitaker rocks a salt and pepper
textured afro with a side part. For the entire cast, their hair serves as their crowns.
We also see subtle odes to African cultures through the bold, colorful patterns in the costume designs.
Elegant Nigerian and Ghanian fabrics are woven into the dresses, blouses, blazers and pants. The
costumes were methodically constructed from top to bottom. Bold shades of red, purple, green, gold
and blue take center stage and add to the characters’ glamour. Custom embroidery can be seen in the
robes, dresses, blazers and vests. The costumes match the vibrancy of the characters and move well
during the elaborate dance numbers. The costumes brought 19th century England to life.
Each song blends expressive lyrics with magnetic beats that will have the whole family singing and
dancing along. Grammy Award winner, John Legend, one of the film’s producers, also wrote original
songs for the film. The soundtrack includes ten songs that are a fusion of gospel, jazz, R&B, and hip-hop
tunes, and would make a great addition to your music playlist.
Anika Noni Rose showcases her extraordinary vocal range and Madalen Mills adds fire to each song she
performs. Forest Whitaker also blesses the audience with his melodious skills, and Lisa Davina Phillip is a
ray of sunshine as she delivers robust performances.
The musical numbers are just as explosive as the dance performances. We see stunning choreography
that incorporates modern, contemporary jazz, hip-hop and more genres. Each number tells a story
through the ingenious choreography. The dance routines match the vibes of the songs well, with simpler
compositions during the ballads and more robust choreography accompanying the upbeat songs. The
South African inspired dance sequence during the snowball scene with Jeronicus, Journey and her
friends is a fun crowd pleaser.
Jingle Jangle highlights the love and special connection between children, parents and grandparents. We
see a grandmother reading to her grandchildren and unfolding their magical family history, and a
grandfather and granddaughter working together to solve complex problems. Studies have shown that
family relationships across several generations are essential to building and maintaining the strength of
the family unit. We see the important role that multigenerational relationships play in the characters’
overall success- they need each other to thrive and succeed.
One of the major themes in this film is family reconciliation. After the unexpected death of his wife,
Jeronicus experiences a downward spiral and loses a connection with his daughter, Jessica. As the film
progresses, Journey is the bridge that reconnects her mother and grandfather and revives their family
unity. This unity leads to a renewed sense of purpose and real happiness for Jeronicus and his family.
Jingle Jangle reminds us that family is everything.
Jeronicus, Jessica, and Journey are math and science geniuses. They use STEM (Science, Technology,
Engineering and Math) skills to create amazing inventions, solve complex math equations, and find
solutions to problems that arise. STEM skills are normalized throughout the film in a fun, relatable way.
Jeronicus and Journey even use their impeccable math skills to throw perfectly landed snowballs during
the snowball fight!
There have been national efforts to encourage Black children to engage in STEM activities and increase
interest in STEM careers. Showcasing STEM skills through these characters could inspire more Black
children to love math and science, and for those who already love math and science, Jingle Jangle could
inspire them to continue their STEM pursuits.
Jingle Jangle writer and director, David E. Talbert, was inspired to create this story after he realized his
son didn’t see himself represented in classic family musicals. Through the creation of Jingle Jangle,
Talbert has opened hearts, minds and imaginations, and will surely inspire generations to come.
This movie is perfect for the holidays and year-round. Wishing you Happy Holidays,
Dr. Keys is a proud wife and mother of two children. She is also an author, children’s media expert, and Professor of Communication. She is passionate about topics such as gender, race and class representation in children’s media, media literacy, family communication, and raising centered, empowered children in an increasingly digital world.
Dr. Keys earned her Ph.D. in Communication and a graduate degree in Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies from Georgia State University., and her M.A. from the University of Central Florida in Mass Communication.