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  • Nosa Novia


Updated: Dec 26, 2020

As a film:5.5/10

As a Christmas film: 7/10

Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey.

A good family Christmas film.

Set across a Victorian background this Christmas film chronicles Jeronicus’ (Forest Whitaker) story to intellectual ownership and self-belief, through his lively, young granddaughter Journey (Maddison Mills – whose acting was superb). It is the cheesy, believe-in-yourself Christmas film, but with an all-black cast, that took the world 20 years to be ready for. This rating might seem quite low but Christmas films in general aren’t known for cinematic excellence. We watch them for the cheese and do-good message. And this film very much delivers on that.

What was good; Aculturality in Black Representation.

Just as atemporality refers to a phenomenon outside of recognizable time, Aculturality is a term I’ve taken to mean the absence of a distinct culture. In a cinematic space where black representation often replicates fixed generalisations of blackness, an acultural character is simply his/herself, one which does not need to perform to reinforce or validate their blackness. I think Jingle Jangle does this well- simply seeing black people exist as normal human beings in their element. The inclusion of culture is not wrong but is a tired and washed-out trope in black cinema; I want to see us just be.

What could’ve been better:

The running time for this movie was 122 minutes (2 hours). I don’t think it needed to be this long. Maybe I’m biased because I could already guess the ending, as could anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of Christmas films. A part of me wonders if Netflix was really the platform for this film, as I think a movie theatre would have allowed the viewer to glance over its long length.

Furthermore, having said earlier about the freedom of black people just being, this film made a slightly out-of-pocket move via a short Afrobeat sequence. In the marketplace, an African song started playing and the kids broke out into African dancing. Its funny because every review I’ve seen read that scene as an extension of the vibrancy of African culture, reviews written by European critics who are accustomed to seeing such displays of blackness. To me this scene was added in for them. I know it was probably meant as a celebration, but it just came across slightly random.

Final thoughts: ‘If you can watch all those Christmas Prince films then you can watch this’

As I’ve said before, the aim of this movie was not created to breat stylistic barriers but cultural ones that prevented the showcasing of black people in fantasy genres.

To those complaining about its cheesiness, if you can watch all other kinds of cheesy films, especially certain of Christmas Prince anthologies (sidenote: why do these Princes only come out during Christmas time); if you can watch those then you can watch this.

Watch it with your children. Let’s normalise minority backgrounds in all types of film genres, not just Black Panther.

Visual review can be found here:

Review by Nosa Novia.

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