Monday Notes: 4 Movies Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey Reminded Me Of 🧐

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.

Monday Notes: 4 Things I Liked About Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey

A few weeks ago, three friends reached out to me to ask if I’d watched Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey yet. I love Christmas movies and didn’t even know it was a thing, so I was super excited to run home and watch it as soon as I could. Here are four things I liked about the movie.

The cast is Black. Representation in media is important. I came of age in the ‘80s. At the time, the only Christmas film I had that included people who looked me was The Wiz with Michael Jackson and Diana Ross, and even that was an adaptation of The Wizard of Oz. As I grew older, I enjoyed watching Christmas movies…a lot, but there still weren’t many that included an all-Black cast. As of today, there are about eleven, including some fan favs, like The Preacher’s Wife, The Best Man Holiday, and Almost Christmas. So, I’m quite pleased to add another all-Black Christmas movie to the list.

There is a dysfunctional father-daughter theme. Most of you know I’ve edited and contributed to a book called Daddy: Reflections of Father-Daughter Relationships, so I was super happy to see this movie normalizes that theme, while not blaming the father or the daughter for the dysfunction. There was one part, in particular, with which I could relate. The narrator says, “Jessica didn’t just lose one parent, she lost two.” That’s exactly how I felt when my mother died and I think this film did a great job of demonstrating how dysfunction occurs, without centralizing the issue or overexaggerating events.

Jeronicus Jangle is a Black male professor. I’m a professor who has worked fulltime at three different institutions. I have encountered two Black male professors in each department. I’ve also graduated from three different universities in three different cities and have studied under three Black male professors in the English and education field. There aren’t a lot of professors who fit the demographic. I’m not sure what the statistic is for math and science, which is what Jangle’s character was, but I’m willing to bet it’s low. Kind of like having an all-Black cast, this type of representation matters, too.

The songs are inspiring and uplifting. I’m glad no one told me Jingle Jangle was a musical, because I probably wouldn’t have watched it. I absolutely loathe musicals. There’s something about people breaking out into song and dance in the middle of a script that’s uber annoying. But, as I prepared to write this blog post, I re-watched the movie and really listened to the songs. Each one is very motivational. My favorite is sung by Journey (Madalen Mills), Jangle’s granddaughter; it’s called, “Square Root of Possible.” And the chorus is,

It’s so possible
Watch me rise high above my obstacles
Watch me become who I’m supposed to be
Oh, the possibilities
‘Cause the squarе root of impossible
Is possible
In me
In mе

I mean, really. How much more inspiring can you get than this song???

Have you watched Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey? If so, let me know what you liked about it in the comments. If not, I suggest checking it out on Netflix. In the midst of a pandemic, it’s nice to have a new sunshiny movie to watch.

Christmas Movies 

I’m starting to dislike the commercialism of the holiday season, but I love Christmas movies. And as long as I still own these DVDs and a DVD player, my family and I will watch at least five of them each year. The film has to have one of three criteria, though: (1) It has to be funny; (2) It has to be authentic; or (3) It has to be inspirational.

Funny Christmas movies are the best. My favorites are probably similar to other people’s. A Christmas Story and National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation are two that I will not only watch each year, but also laugh at as if it’s the first time I’ve seen either one. Humor is subjective though. While Clark Griswold’s antics are both absurd and comical, Billy Bob Thornton’s role in Bad Santa is not. I mean I laughed, but I don’t want to see Santa cussing kids out and acting crazy. It’s just not aligned with the holiday spirit.

Authentic Christmas movies are relatable. Who doesn’t have a crazy family member who has predictable and perhaps dreaded behavior? Also, each film seems to accurately portray the stress encompassed during the holidays. Coming home to family that doesn’t really know you because they haven’t seen you all year, or hanging out with family that treat you as if you’re a perpetual 12 year-old are common and real experiences. That’s why I always kick-off my holiday season with Home for the Holidays. Okay. I know I said Christmas movies, but the Thanksgiving theme is perfect to begin the following five weeks because it’s such a real portrayal of awkward family interactions. Four Christmases is another great one because it depicts two people who have avoided going home, but eventually have to. The experiences they have are priceless.

Inspirational Christmas movies probably speak for themselves. They always make me feel warm and fuzzy at the end. These movies perpetuate an idea of hope. A Christmas Carol, the Jim Carrey version is my absolute favorite. That’s what the world wants, right? Hope. Most of us want to believe that people are capable of transitioning from old and crochety characters to free-spirited and giving human beings. The Santa concept is similar. Although I know Santa is not real, I enjoy watching Polar Express, especially the part where they all gather in the town’s center and sing “Santa Clause is Coming to Town.” The inspiring part is the act of believing in something greater than oneself, which I also tend to believe is a common human experience. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if there were some jolly old guy who made everyone’s wishes come true?

I’m not sure about the other 47 weeks of the year, but if you happen to stop by any weekend between Thanksgiving and Christmas, then you’re bound to join me in watching one of these films. What’s your favorite Christmas movie? I’d love to ooh and aah about it with you in the comments.