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The New X-MAS Tradition

Updated: Jan 25, 2021

This writing is about the new Netflix Original Film, "Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey". Starring the ever acclaimed Forest Whitaker as 'Jeronicus Jangle', and Justin Cornwell as 'Young Jeronicus Jangle'. Right out of the gate, I will tell you that this film is far from perfect, but it does have everything needed to make itself a new American Tradition. Originality, fun and climactic story-changing moments.

When you hear the word "Originality" you may say, "This story formats just like any traditional musical Christmas film for children. What's so different?" This film does kick-off with your traditional, "Grandmother telling a colorful old-time story of the past." Setting that common opening as the slight of formality, the film has originality. One, when's the last time we've seen an original Christmas musical? This is a seasonal musical, and they seem to be making a quick emphatic comeback this holiday season 2020. If you're a millennial, you've grown up with these kinds of traditional Christmas Stories. But Gen X and Gen Z have not. These types of movies have essentially gone extinct over the past 10 - 20 years. Is it because Christmas hasn't had that enticing appeal as of late because of the cultural changes in America? I'm not going to give an answer on that. I just know that "Jingle Jangle..." has shown us it is still more than possible to create these fun and spontaneous feature films.

I want to focus on the Choreography in this film. The Choreography comes from Ashley Wallen who doesn't have the biggest name in the American dance scene, but he also worked in the sparkling "The Greatest Showman". After this showing, I think it's time he gets a little more respect. When we see these Christmas Musicals, we get out-dated songs and dances that feel like they are fit more so for the renaissance era than modern day. This was honestly the best Choreography I've seen in a Christmas film. I can't really think of anything that comes close. It gave me "Santa Clause is Coming to Town..." Justin Bieber vibes. The Choreography in that video was pretty exceptional. The Choreographer here found a way to make modern day, urban Choreography fit in a different era where these dances would be difficult to make sensible. Yet every move from the crew fit and made sense. It wasn't the energy of the dancers that was captivating, although the energy was there, it was the detail in the intricacy of the movements. The focal point was "In your face movements". Making sure the cameras caught the dynamics of expressions from the dancers from front to back. There was only one dance midway through that I thought was kind of "A,B,C - 1,2,3," basic, but other than that the dances were phenomenal.

Along with the choreography, the music was also great. I found myself humming along to a few of these tracks. I thought 'Young Jeronicus Jangle' had the best musical composition, but I believe Journey, Jeronicus's Granddaughter's(Madeline Mills) solo had the most impactful performance. You felt every ounce of her energy. Very powerful. So let's move into the next segment on why this film is a success for me.

The acting in this Christmas story is second to none. I've never seen a strong acting performance in a Christmas musical. Point me to one, I'll check it out, but the acting in this gave me goosebumps at times, and made me grin from ear-to-ear other times. Jeronicus Jangle's solo where he is seen in tears alone in the dim room makes your skin crawl a bit. Even if you couldn't relate to it, you knew he was in a sense of depression and agony by the intensity on his face even before the tears began to flow. 'Young Jessica Jangle', Jeronicus's daughter (Diana Babnicova), maintains the viewer's attention with her contagious smile. You couldn't help but smile every time she was on screen. If or when I have a daughter, I hope she smiles the way Jessica Jangle does. Journey Jangle just put on a wonderful performance. You will definitely be seeing her a lot in the future. She has strong technique as an actress even at her young age. You don't see that type of emotional variation from a child her age. We see it all the time, kids can make you smile, or make you feel sad for them. It's all the "in-between" that makes the difference of ordinary actor or actress into extraordinary. Can you make the audience feel anxious? Can you make the audience feel regret? What about different variations of solitude? These are things that make great actors and actresses for adults. Madeline Mills has that range in development. She has a greater range of emotion of a certain actress in the industry that consistently somehow finds her way in high-end roles. I'm not going to say the name. If she stays on the right path, she will most certainly be up there with the high-end paid actresses. This will be in the near future. Not in 25 years from now.

The climactic moments throughout this film were temperature changing with acting. Not the music like most of the Christmas films you've seen. When the director wanted to change the direction of the film, he focused on allowing the cast to express themselves. The animation and cinematography came second to the acting, but it was definitely used. One character in the film was an animated one, but he was key in various director's dynamics. 'Don Juan Diego' (Ricky Martin); we all know Ricky Martin has a very persuasive voice, but whoever thought of making Ricky Martin the voice actor for a children's Christmas film deserves an award for this casting. The entire casting I thought was avant-garde, but it was the little nuances of each actor and actress in this film that worked for Casting Director Reg Poerscout-Edgerton, who is a well-acclaimed Casting Director with credits such as "Guardians of the Galaxy", "Kingsman (Film Series)", "Sherlock Holmes (2009)" and many more. His accompanying Casting Director in 'Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey' is Lillie Jeffrey who he's also worked with on "Feedback" and "Come Away". It feels like they went out and found the exact emotional array to stretch this film out perfectly. Also being able to locate all of the character specifics they sought after in each of the personalities presented.

This film has a ton of kinks in its armor, but it is strong where it didn't need to be which what makes this an outstanding new millennia staple for winter holiday films to come. This is an instant classic for generations to come. This is a new Christmas tradition.


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