Have you watched Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey yet? It’s a wonderfully made Christmas movie. As I mentioned before, I especially like it because its all-Black cast executes a brilliant performance through a familiar trope, a Christmas story. However, with many movies, it’s challenging for me to focus on the innovation because I recognize so many similarities to other movies. Here are a few that I noticed:
The setting is very much like Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium, a story about a 243-year-old owner of a magic store, Mr. Magorium. The store’s liveliness is connected to Mr. Magorium, whose eccentricity means he keeps a zebra on his couch and washes his ties in the dishwasher. Aside from bright oranges, reds, and blues, puppets puppeteer themselves and fish mobiles are comprised of fresh fish one would find in the ocean. Jangles and Things, like Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium, is owned by “the greatest inventor in all the land, Jeronicus Jangle.” “Everything was alive,” including “even things that shouldn’t be,” like mini air balloons that seemed to float around the shop independently.
Like many Christmas movies, Jingle Jangle is a frame story, a story within a story, but it is particularly reminiscent of The Polar Express, in that both main characters lose their belief in something. For the young boy in The Polar Express, it is his belief in Santa Claus that is waning. Jeronicus Jangle is an adult and life’s circumstances have led him to lose his belief in magic, specifically his own gift as an inventor. For both of these characters, the only way they can find their way back to life as they once knew it is through belief. Also, worth mentioning is that both movies include a little bit of singing and dancing to move the plot along.
Jeronicus Jangle’s life shifted for the worst when his wife, Joanne died and he insisted his daughter, Jessica move on without him. Jangle and Things grew grey and Jangle turned the store into a pawn shop. Jangle’s sadness and lack of spirit reminded me of A Christmas Carol’s. Ebenezer Scrooge. The death of Scrooge’s sister early in life, combined with his business partner, Jacob Marley’s recent death seemed to have both contributed to his overall negative attitude. Scrooge was so surly that Christmas carolers stopped singing as he passed. Jangle wasn’t so much mean as he was sad; he sat in the dark, ignored blatant advances from a woman mail carrier, and hadn’t communicated with his daughter in years. Either way, death affected both men, and only the magic that Christmas brings could cure it.
WALL-E isn’t a Christmas movie, but the main character, WALL-E, an old forgotten robot that represents our throwaway culture, looks an awful like an invention Jangle’s daughter created and granddaughter, Journey brought to life, Buddy 3000*. They’re both little, square robots, with round, bulging eyes. WALL-E has wheels, speaks only a few words, and plays VHS tapes; Buddy 3000, however, has feet and hands, mimics his surroundings, flies (and allows you to fly) if you believe in yourself.
I could go on and on because I’ve noticed a lot more, but let me know if you recognized any other similarities.
*You’ll have to watch the movie to find out how the granddaughter got in the story.