Tag Archives: movie musicals

Diana

Diana, the musical, was set to open on Broadway in late March 2020 but like almost everything in the whole world that month and beyond, it was postponed due to COVID.

The world as a whole is still obsessed with Princess Diana nearly 25 years after her death. I’m not immune to her story myself. I was a kid when she died, but I remember her as beautiful and glamourous, the very embodiment of how princesses have always been described. But despite constant media scrutiny, she remains a bit of a mystery. If she were alive today, I’m positive she’d have a very active Instagram account, but at the time her only option was to leak small nuggets anonymously to the press – the very same press that gleefully tore her to shreds. All this to say: if you tell me there’s a musical about the People’s Princess, I’ve got instant tiara fever. But after watching this, I’m desperate for the vaccine.

Diana is abysmal. Just the shoddiest, jankiest, most beastly piece of theatre that’s ever existed, and I’m including Cats in this assessment. Every single thing about this is trashy and desperate. The music and lyrics, by David Bryan and Joe DiPietro, are laughably bad. These two Jersey boys (one of whom is the keyboard player for Bon Jovi) have assembled every problematic British expression and clich√© their two bird brains could think of, and then fabricated songs MAD-LIBS style. The result is cringey. I have a box of salt in my pantry with more sense than these two. My ears were offended. They make Prince Charles, famous for having fantasized about being a tampon to get, erm, closer to Camilla, look like a poet by comparison.

And it’s not just the songs. Although: if you’re a musical with ghastly songs, you’re pretty fecking useless, aren’t you? But it’s not just the songs. The tone is always wrong. By chance alone you’d think it would accidentally stumble toward right about half the time, but no, it plods along, getting it wrong each and every time. The casting’s wrong too; the actors probably aren’t bad, but they’re so woefully miscast that it doesn’t even matter. Jeanna de Waal, bless her heart, is no Princess Di. No shade, but even in the world’s poufiest wedding gown and carefully coifed blonde wig, she doesn’t hold a candle in the wind to the real Princess of Wales.

The staging’s uninspired, the costumes are more about quick changes than about iconic fashion, and I won’t even tell you what they rhyme with Camilla.

And don’t get me started on the ending that never was. Even with over 20 years worth of hindsight, these two ratbags don’t know how to end the musical. It ends so abruptly it feels as though the credits have simply wandered onto the stage, dazed and confused. But no, the credits are exactly where they belong; it’s the ending that’s MIA, TBD, BYOE.

Diana is pure trash, and not even juicy garbage like a guilty pleasure reality show, but honest to goodness wet, stinking garbage, as in that big can where someone should have dumped this steaming pile. Diana should have either gone dark and real, or funny and camp, but instead we get this bland, dated, inexcusable rot that would be an insult to her legacy if anyone could parse the silly lyrics or make sense of the drab costumes enough to figure out that this is meant to be Princess Diana, The Princess Diana, who even in death deserves far better than this.

Everyone’s Talking About Jamie

This movie is based on the true story of Jamie Campbell, a 16 year old boy from Sheffield, England, who dreamed in drag, and attended prom in a dress.

In the film, the 16 year old boy is called Jamie New (Max Harwood). Jamie is out, and proud, and knows in his blood he’s meant to be a drag queen. He’s bullied at school, rejected by his father, but at home he finds support with mother Margaret (Sarah Lancashire), who doesn’t just love and accept him, but encourages him to be his true self. She even buys him his first pair of heels.

Worried the film wouldn’t be gay enough, directors Jonathan Butterell, Dan Gillespie Sells, and Tom MacRae add singing and dancing, adapting it from the West-End stage musical.

Stifled at school, especially by Miss Hedge (Sharon Horgan), Jamie resolves to attend prom in a dress. Emboldened to finally create the drag persona of whom he’s been dreaming, he makes a friend with crucial experience. Hugo (Richard E. Grant) doesn’t just run a fabulous dress shop, he’s a queen himself, and his wisdom extends beyond just brows and breasts. He teaches Jamie (with an all-new song) about drag’s revolutionary history.

Grant prepared for the role by binging 11 seasons of RuPaul’s Drag Race in just 3 weeks (which sounds like a dream job to me), and is particularly fitting since season 6’s winner, Bianca Del Rio (Roy Haylock), makes a cameo appearance (as do the real Jamie Campbell, and several cast members of the stage musical).

If you like heart warming stories about being your true self, Everyone’s Talking About Jamie is about to be talked about you, too. If you like queer stories with a happy ending, please sing and dance along. If you like stories about outsiders overcoming obstacles to rise above, then find this film on Amazon Prime, sparkly heels optional but encouraged.

Cinderella

Did the world really need another remake of a classic, oft-told fairy tale? Apparently we did. I didn’t know it until I saw it, but I did. This one offers up convincing reasons for its existence, fitting itself into a uniquely shaped niche we didn’t know how desperately we wanted filled.

What is it: Live action but not Disney.

Who’s in it? Camila Cabello stars as Cinderella, but the entire cast is stacked: Idina Menzel as the wicked step mother; Pierce Brosnan as the King and Minnie Driver as his Queen; James Corden as the voice of one of Ella’s mouse friends; the venerable Billy Porter as the extra fabulous fairy godmother; and then there’s the lesser known but equally talented Nicholas Galitzine as the Prince. Well done all round.

What does it look like? While the exact time period is hard to pin down, costumer Ellen Mirojnick embraces the sumptuous silhouettes of the roughly Victoria era using rich fabrics and a bejeweled colour palette but she isn’t boxed in by them. Short hemlines and asymmetrical necklines are clearly anachronistic but who cares, everyone looks great, the mood is magical, the gowns sparkle, the choreography is light but on point. What’s not to love?

What does it sound like? Divine. Of course there’s the obligatory radio bop, an original song for the Cinderella soundtrack called Million To One, which we revisit if not repeatedly, then at least frequently. And there’s a couple of songs sung by the town crier that have to be written for the movie as they’re far too specific, referencing not just movie plot points but also random crowd activities. But many of the songs you’ll not only know, but I’m quite certain you’ll sing along to: the Eurythmics’ Sweet Dreams, Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation, and perhaps the greatest needle drop in a decade, Salt-n-Pepa’s Whatta Man. Practically perfect in every way.

Who had the balls to make this thing? Kay Cannon of course, as both writer and director. This is only her second film (after Blockers), but she does have some bona fides producing the Pitch Perfect movies. She’s got an eye for style, a keen ear for talent, and she writes a script that actually makes Cinderella relevant again. This Cinderella is going to be content being a wife and princess. She wants more. She wants a career. She wants fulfillment. She wants more comfortable shoes.

Should you watch it? Absolutely, without reservations. This isn’t a major piece of cinema or a must-see blockbuster. It’s just a well-executed musical that’ll put a little lightness in your heart. And who doesn’t need that?

Annette

Ann (Marion Cotillard) and Henry (Adam Driver) are an odd but glamourous couple – she, a world-famous, beautiful, apple-eating opera singer, he a successful, provocative, banana-loving stand-up comedian. And yet they’re in love. The public eats up their love story, consuming the pretty pictures they see in the media.

Annette will not be for everyone, and for once that’s not me being a snob condescending to you normies who surely won’t appreciate creative cinema when you see it (though god knows I’m alarmingly comfortable being that bitch); it’s me, a snob and seasoned consumer of movies, telling you that even I found it weird and difficult to digest. First of all, it’s a musical. It’s a musical that’s not stylized as a musical. It’s a tediously descriptive musical. The song that opens the film is called So May We Start, and those are more or less all of the lyrics as well, asking in a prolonged and pedestrian way if they should start the film. I didn’t turn it off, so I guess that passed for consent, so we see them become their characters, Driver donning a long, curly wig, and ten minutes into the film, it begins. If not immediately won over, I was at least intrigued enough to keep this party going. But all subsequent songs – and there are many, they are constant – are equally plainly descriptive. Their love song: “We Love Each Other So Much.” Simon Helberg’s song about being Ann’s accompanist: “I’m an Accompanist.” Henry’s song about fatherhood skills: “I’m A Good Father.” Not a metaphor for miles. And yet, when Henry performs his comedy, there isn’t a single joke. There are only songs about the usual contents of a stand-up routine. And when Ann’s on stage at the opera, her song is about the most common components of the opera: death, and bows. The songs stand in for actual entertaining content. Are the songs themselves supposed to be entertaining? It’s hard to say for sure but it’s even harder to believe that yes, they are. Because truly, they aren’t. And I normally love a musical, even a half-baked one, and I’ve always enjoyed using 5000 words when 5 would do. But these songs, conceived by the band Sparks, are just not for me. Too avant-garde? Not avant-garde enough?

But this isn’t even the weird, or weirdest, part of the movie. Henry’s embroiled in a scandal and the couple grow apart as her star continues to rise as his career stalls and then fails. Even their newborn baby isn’t uniting them, cute as little Annette is. And by cute I mean she’s not cute at all. She’s very, very creepy. That’s a mean thing to say about a baby; good thing she’s actually a puppet. I’ve misused the word ‘actually’ in that sentence, though I do not mean to deceive you. Mostly I’m confused myself. Visually, verifiably, clearly, Annette is ‘played’ by a creepy rubber puppet who moves like a stiff rubber puppet, with unblinking glass eyes and obvious ligatures to keep her joints relatively articulated. My god is she creepy. Not quite as creepy as the wispy mustache that Henry grows, but still quite remarkably creepy. But wait – there’s more! The film never comments on the fact that Annette appears to you and I to be a puppet – they simply treat her like a real baby, as if this movie is a middle school Christmas pageant with no budget and no recently birthed siblings to play the baby Jesus. Annette’s mom and dad simply see their beautiful baby girl. However, baby Annette does have something strange about her, a gift the film lauds as unusual and extraordinary, but which doesn’t seem all that weird compared to the weirdness of the film itself. It’s like an elephant holding a press conference to tell us that a 7 year old boy is reading at a 6th grade level. That’s quite remarkable, sure, and good for the kid, but are we really just glossing over the fact that an elephant learned both English, AND the power of the media? The medium IS the message, people.

Do not let me dissuade you from watching Annette. After a debut at Cannes and a tiny theatrical run, it is now streaming on Amazon Prime, a fairly innocuous way to sample a truly original film, and while you may or may not respond to it, at least it’s not another Hollywood retread. It’s daring and risky (it pairs a pedo mustache with a douchebag fedora!) and a fun game is to keep your face neutral and simply record the spot in the film where your spouse finally buckles and says “That’s weird.” For Sean it didn’t come until 1h24m into the film, at a point so random and arbitrary that I was astounded and amused in equal portions. I wish my reaction to the film was just as balanced, but still, I was pleasantly surprised by the film’s moving end. It perhaps wasn’t totally earned, but it was a few very stirring minutes of film at the end of a 2h21m movie.

A Week Away

Greetings from my toilet! I don’t normally write movie reviews from my bathroom but I’ve recently developed a severe intolerance to dairy and it seems imprudent to risk sitting anywhere else.

Yes, this movie is THAT cheesy.

Will (Kevin Quinn) is a teenage orphan and a bad apple. Stealing a cop car is the last straw that gets him kicked out of the group home so as a last resort he gets sent to summer camp. Which is actually church camp. And at church camp, in apparently just the space of a single week, a certain young lady helps him develop a crush on Jesus and saves him from himself. Avery (Bailee Madison) is the pastor’s daughter and has a dead mom herself, so they really bond over seeing their dead loved ones again in heaven one day. Hypothetically, of course, which is what atheists call faith.

Faith is great but prayers are not going to get you through this movie, and that’s because this isn’t just a teenage romance that puts marriage on the table but not kissing, it’s also a musical! An eerily perky, God-centric musical with the absolute cheesiest, boppiest choreography I’ve ever seen in my whole life. Generally I like a good musical, and I don’t mind a sappy teenage romance, but this movie made me hate them both, made me hate movies generally, made me hate even cheese, and cheese is practically my religion.

This movie is unabashedly Christian, though I do think paintball and confetti cannons are rather obvious ways to trick kids into thinking Jesus is cool, and I think tricking anyone into religion is technically a cult. But a cult with an arts and crafts cabin and tater tots on Tuesdays. Care to join? It’s currently recruiting on Netflix.

Music

You may already know about this movie even if you haven’t seen it. Sia, the popular singer-songwriter with the oversized wigs, is its director and co-writer, but more importantly, is the woman who made a movie about a young woman on the autism spectrum without casting or seemingly consulting anyone on the spectrum. And when she was called out about it, she got kind of defensive. Understandable, maybe, but not a great look. She has since half-apologized, the very definition of too little, too late.

While I definitely believe that inclusion is good and right, and representation important, I decided to see if I could set the controversy aside and enjoy the movie anyway. The short answer is NO. The long answer is:

Music is not about a young woman on the spectrum named Music. Music (Maddie Ziegler) lives with grandma Millie (Mary Kay Place), who has carefully constructed a safe space in which Music can exist. Music is barely verbal, but she likes to go for walks and visit the library, and she’s never without her headphones. But then Millie suffers a deadly stroke and Music’s sister Zu (Kate Hudson) has to step up and take custody, which is a real head scratcher since Zu is an addict and a drug dealer recently released from prison and currently on parole. How she gets custody is beyond me. She can barely care for herself, she’s 40 but hardly an adult. Caring for a special needs sister seems wildly beyond her, which is probably why things get so wildly out of control. Anyway, this movie is not about Music, it’s about Zu. Music is merely used as a prop to help Zu achieve her goals. She’s a plot device on Zu’s road to redemption.

While this is hardly Hollywood’s first ‘marginalized person as a plot device’ narrative, it is a particularly offensive portrayal by Maddie Ziegler, who, by her own admission only prepared for the role by watching Youtube videos of kids on the spectrum having meltdowns. Ziegler’s performance is without depth or nuance. It’s one-dimensional, insensitive, and doesn’t begin to describe a person as a whole. But director Sia doesn’t understand this, and the script, co-written by Sia and children’s author Dallas Clayton, isn’t interested in fully-realized characters anyway. Music remains opaque and unknowable, Zu is hardly treated to anything resembling an arc or development, and other characters aren’t just basic but sometimes downright offensively stereotypical. It’s surprising that Sia was able to get the likes of Hector Elizondo, Mary Kay Place, Ben Schwartz, and Leslie Odom Jr. to sign on, but then again, none of them would have seen Ziegler’s patronizing performance until everyone was already on set and the ink on contracts was good and dry. But the whole notion that Zu can achieve some sort of absolution merely by learning to love her “challenging” sister is gross. Music doesn’t exist to make Zu look good. She shouldn’t be used as a way to illustrate someone else’s good vibes and positive intentions. She’s not an instrument or a stop along her big sister’s victory tour; her depiction as such is cruel and irresponsible. Why does a movie named after her fail to see Music as a person?

This patronizing and poorly judged filmed is frequently interrupted by an entire album’s worth of Sia songs – performed by Ziegler, Hudson, and Odom Jr. – and their accompanying music videos, which masquerade as insight into Music’s interior life but are really just an excuse to trade on the director’s only real talent. If only she had merely put out 10 videos instead. The musical interludes are of course pastel pieces of choreography heaven, but they not only have little if anything to do with the film itself, they also get really old really fast. Sia lacks the skill to connect these interjections to the larger story and the videos feel shoe-horned into a film that doesn’t want them. And though Maddie Ziegler’s other Sia collaborations (on her videos for Chandelier, Elastic Heart, and Big Girls Cry) are borderline genius, these are of course tainted by Ziegler’s self-evidently problematic aping of disability.

The film’s ignorant and infantilizing portrayal of autism is disastrous, so it might be a good time to yet again point out that actually involving people on the spectrum in this film’s conception, casting, development, and shooting would have resulted in something more authentic and representative. I know it’s tempting, in today’s cancel-prone culture, to dismiss or boycott this film, but I think that we can still learn valuable lessons from bad art. And Music is very, very bad. It’s so bad that it should serve as a new benchmark for productions going forward. It’ll be harder for mistakes like this to be made in the future. That’s not so much a silver lining as a tin foil lining, paltry perhaps, meager consolation, but it’s important to remember that a movie like this doesn’t just do a disservice to a marginalized community, it sets us all back, our understanding and our empathy and our ability to build a more inclusive society. Music isn’t a disease, it’s a symptom, and the only way we can be part of the cure is to talk about the way forward.

The Prom

The Prom is a new movie on Netflix based on a Broadway musical of the same name about a handful of Broadway stars looking to clean up their image by taking on a random cause. The cause in question is a prom in Indiana that the PTA would rather cancel than allow a gay student to attend with her girlfriend. It’s a pretty gay musical that Ryan Murphy manages to make bigger, better, and gayer than ever, with boatloads of sequins and buckets of wigs, and the shiniest, sparkliest cast he could assemble.

Dee Dee (Meryl Streep) is a veteran stage actress, a Broadway phenom with a Tony in her purse and an outsized sense of entitlement. When we meet her, she’s starring in the opening night of Eleanor, a musical about Eleanor Roosevelt. Co-starring as FDR is Barry (James Corden), a Broadway mainstay who’s still chasing that first Tony, and hoping this might be it. Unfortunately, a bad review pretty much shuts them down on that first night, and someone has the temerity to point out that it’s not so much that the show is bad as that the two of them are so disliked. They’re narcissists, they’re told, though they’re not convinced that’s such a bad thing. But in the best interest of their careers, they decide to rehab their reputations by support a cause (a cause celebre, they specify) along with Broadway actor “between gigs” Trent (Andrew Rannells) and inveterate chorus girl Angie (Nicole Kidman), who ride the next bus out of town toward homophobic Indiana.

Emma (Jo Ellen Pellman) is the sweet teenage girl who just wants to take her girlfriend to prom. Alyssa (Ariana DeBose) is her closeted girlfriend and the daughter of Mrs. Greene (Kerry Washington), the “homosexual prom’s” #1 opponent. Principal Tom (Keegan-Michael Key) does what he can to mitigate the damage but he’s pretty powerless with so much opposition. Plus, now he’s start struck on top of everything else – he’s Dee Dee’s biggest fan.

As our Broadway do-gooders get to know Emma and her situation, what started out as a charitable act of self-interest turns into something a little more genuine, although the unironic, attention-hogging performance of It’s Not About Me had its charms. Both the songs and the film are uneven, but they’re also so much fun, who cares? I didn’t particularly buy Nicole Kidman as a mere chorus girl either, but do you hear me complaining? No. Because singing and dancing have put so much joy in my heart I should feel ashamed to ask for anything more.

The Prom is not a great movie, but it is boisterous, glittery good fun, full of beautiful costumes, beautiful voices, and a totally stacked cast. Ryan Murphy doesn’t do subtle, but he does have an eye for a fantastic musical number and this movie has north of a dozen. Though the feeling may be flitting, you can’t help but feel good while watching it, and what a perfect way to spend an evening near the holidays. The Prom is pure indulgence – tacky, campy, cheesy, and unforgivably feel-good. So feel it.

Dolly Parton’s Christmas on the Square

A holiday musical you say? I’m still riding high on Jingle Jangle, so sign me right up. Dolly Parton is my spirit animal, she’s magical unicorns shaking her pretty mane and making the world a brighter place.

Christmas on the Square is about a bitter woman named Regina (Christine Baranski) determined to sell an entire town that she’s apparently inherited from her estranged father. She serves eviction notices to every single person who lives and works there, including her former beau, and when they dare to protest, she moves up the date to Christmas Eve. What a Grinch! No, wait, Baranski was in that, wasn’t she? What a Scrooge! Is that safe? Man this woman is prolific.

As you might guess, Dolly Parton is herself hidden amongst the townspeople, masquerading as the town’s only homeless person but actually an angel in disguise. An angel come to stage an intervention!

Now, on paper this musical has everything I need in order to activate my merriment and good cheer, but on Netflix, it just wasn’t working for me. It’s a very traditional kind of musical, old-fashioned and janky, with campy over-acting and random singing, and set pieces that don’t trouble themselves to feel like anything other than the studio backlot affair they are. I understand it’s been adapted from an actual stage play, but I do expect at least a half-hearted attempt to make it feel more cinematic, and less claustrophobic. But everything feels corny, like a Hallmark movie crossed with your kid’s school Christmas pageant, and deeply phony. I couldn’t get into it, and that’s despite the very welcome invitation from Parton’s glowing songs, and even some pretty nifty choreography.

It wasn’t bad enough to turn it off – or perhaps I just didn’t want the trouble of finding something else – but I sort of wish I’d never turned it on. There’s LOTS of Dolly on Netflix these days, and literally anything else is a heck of a lot better.

I Am Woman

I am woman, hear me roar
In numbers too big to ignore
And I know too much to go back and pretend
Cause I’ve heard it all before
And I’ve been down there on the floor
No one’s ever gonna keep me down again

Oh yes, I am wise
But it’s wisdom born of pain
Yes, I’ve paid the price
But look how much I gained
If I have to, I can do anything
I am strong
I am invincible
I am woman

I grew up just knowing the lyrics to Helen Reddy’s I Am Woman, the way I just knew my own name. I grew up in a house of 4 sisters and 1 mother and there was nothing we liked better than putting on some Whitney Houston and singing/dancing along. But there were only two songs my mother ever sang unprompted, unconsciously, without a backing track: Amazing Grace, and I Am Woman (one of the many things she has in common with Barack Obama). At the time I didn’t think much of it. I knew the lyrics but it sure as heck wasn’t playing on MTV. And anyway, weren’t we already a female-led household of strong sisters doing it for ourselves? I didn’t think about why both my mother’s brothers went to university while she, even more intelligent and competent, was a high school drop out who got engaged to a trucker at 16, married at 18, and had me at 20, by which time she’d given up her “career” (hairdressing) to raise children at home – she had 4 of us by 26 and did it all alone, even when she was diagnosed with cancer. During divorce proceedings she gave up spousal support to keep our childhood home; as a single mother with no work experience or credit history of her own, she would have struggled to keep the 5 of us in a 2 bedroom apartment, and she failed to qualify for a loan to replace our rusted out van. Now I have to wonder: was my mother, a stay at home mother and perpetual caregiver, a secret feminist? All evidence points to yes, and not so secretly either. She taught us to “carry our own canoe” (that sounds like a particularly Canadian brand of feminism), to work hard enough to be able to support ourselves, to live with someone before committing to marriage. MY MOM WAS A FEMINIST? I grew up in the 90s, when feminist was a dirty word, but that didn’t mean the struggle for equality was dead, and clearly Helen Reddy’s 1971 song was still an anthem to women raising their own daughters now.

Helen Reddy wrote a feminist anthem in response to the sexism she encountered repeatedly in her life and career. It will not surprise you to know that the (male) record executives didn’t get the song and didn’t want to include it on her album. Or that her (male) husband stole all her money and put it up his nose.

Tilda Cobham-Hervey is absolute perfection as Helen Reddy; she’s the reason to watch. Director Unjoo Moon sticks pretty close to the usual biopic formula, but a magical spark from Cobham-Hervey is all this film needs to ignite not only a strong performance but a stunning musical performance as well.

Helen Reddy was the Katy Perry of her time. She was the first to make us roar. But while Perry’s pregnancy was announced to fanfare and unveiled rather dramatically in a music video, Reddy’s motherhood was considered a liability and proof she could never truly commit to her career. Fighting sexism has turned out to be a very long struggle and sometimes we need to look back in order to appreciate just how far we’ve come.

Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey

Jeronicus Jangle is a magical, fantastical inventor of “jangles and things” (translation: toys). A new breakthrough that brings a toy to life seems poised to make him an incredible success but while celebrating jubilantly in the streets with his wife, daughter, and nearly the entire town of Cobbleton, the newly animated toy (a matador named Don Juan voiced by Ricky Martin) convinces Jeronicus’ apprentice Gustafson that they should steal the blueprints to all the inventions and strike out on their own.

Twenty-eight Toy Maker of the Year awards later, Gustafson (Keengan-Michael Key) is eccentric and wealthy and about to run out of stolen ideas for toys. Jeronicus (Forest Whitaker), meanwhile, is completely ruined. Gustafson didn’t just steal his blueprints, he robbed him of his self-confidence and of the magic that seemed to inspire his inventions. His wife gone, his daughter estranged, and his toy store now a rapidly failing pawnshop, Jeronicus is dejected, and not even the threat of bankruptcy can jump-start his innovations. However, the arrival of his grand-daughter Journey (Madalen Mills) changes everything. Not only does she share his mind for magic, science, and creating, she’s got something even more important: belief.

Jingle Jangle is a bit of a marvel, to be honest. It’s The Greatest Showman meets Mr. Magorium’s Magic Emporium meets Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory. Although I loved the film from the minute Phylicia Rashad started reading a fairytale to her grandkids, I was completely sold not two minutes later when a toy store full of whirring robotics and steampunk costumed people break out into song and dance that totally swept me away.

Writer-director David E. Talbert creates a rich fantasy land that is a pure joy to visit. Although it’s not a perfect film, there’s a lot of talent on display. In addition to a truly unique twist on a family-friendly holiday film, Forest Whitaker is a total champ and Keegan-Michael Key is having a blast. Who knew either could sing and dance – or would? Mills is the true star of course; her voice is strong and confident, but so is her soul, and she shines her novice light even opposite legendary luminaries.

From the inspired music to the brilliant production design, Jingle Jangle was a whole lot of fun and I’m both pleased to have a new classic in the holiday genre, but equally pleased that it is holiday-lite, a perfect November (or anytime) watch.