Words: Giulia Lombardo
‘Jingle Jangle’ is one of Netflix’s last releases, and – even if it came out just a few weeks ago – it prepared us for a dreamy Christmas.
Thanks to its rhythm and its inventive force ‘Jingle Jangle’ has the sole purpose of becoming the ideal film for the whole family to watch, next to the fireplace when decorating the Christmas tree; in the attempt to succeed in its mission, it proves to have what it takes to breach into our hearts for this unusual Christmas.
Set in the exuberant town of Cobbleton, ‘Jingle Jangle’ tells the story of a legendary toymaker named Jeronicus Jangle (played by the Oscar-winning Forest Whitaker) and his sophisticated and extraordinary creations. Left widowed and betrayed by his trusty apprentice (the Emmy award winner Keegan-Michael Key), who steals his most precious creation, Mr. Jangle will have to rely on his brilliant and enterprising grandson (the newcomer Madalen Mills) to heal old wounds and awaken the magic of Christmas.
The origins of ‘Jingle Jangle’ are inspired by theatre and, in fact, the project – created by screenwriter/director David E. Talbert – was originally conceived as a musical for the stage. The musical side of the film recalls the recent ‘The Greatest Showman’; sparkling choreographies accompany songs with purely modern sounds and styles, which maintain good variety, rhythm and catchiness. Composed, among others, by John Legend, that is also a producer for the movie. A pyrotechnic apparatus is created that involves musical numbers, the stage layout and the bright costumes and the most varied colours.
It is not hard to see the musical-theatre roots in the sumptuous and baroque production, in the elaborate choreography (made by Ashley Wallen), in the energetic and varied soundtrack steeped in R&B – with tracks by artists such as John Legend and Philip Lawrence – and in the world of steampunk-like aesthetics perfectly rendered by colorful sets and costumes.
The soundtrack emphasizes the harmonic subtext that emerges during the film, with balanced tracks that turn from jazz, R&B to pop sounds; melodies that blend with narrative architecture replacing the word without the need to clarify the events.
The mixture of different sounds is even more remarkable because, in the movie, there is one scene in particular with an especially magical moment, that comes out not during a song, but in an Afrobeat dance break during a snowball fight. Similarly, the best songs in the movie are ones that draw heavily from African American music and take full advantage of the cast’s singing and acting talent.
What the film is most focused on represent and deliver, are the logic of possibility and the algorithms of spectacularity, all addressed in the rediscovery of that fantasy for too long dormant and which it is necessary to know how to trust again. Believing is the word that rekindles the disappointed inventor’s dusty store toys; believing is when a young girl asks her grandfather to share, finally, those fantasies that you are able to achieve.
Blending music and songs to the simplest of the structures of the story, ‘Jingle Jangle’ is already a classic, because it chooses the most traditional themes with which to rediscover the enchantment present in ourselves and hidden in the depths of others.
You can listen to the ‘Jingle Jangle’ soundtrack here: