Friday, December 24, 2021

Denzel-directed 'Journal for Jordan' offers some emotion for Christmas

Our "12 Days of Movie Christmas" concludes today and tomorrow with the last two reviews from a crowded and busy holiday season and, as the fates would have it, each is directed by a famous, Oscar-winning actor with the focus of their cameras on holiday warmth. Today's Christmas Eve review begins here right now. 

Despite its title, "A Journal for Jordan" has nothing to with basketball. Even the Michael Jordan who carries the ball in this story of love and loss -- obviously a much different kind of winning and losing -- is not the guy considered the greatest basketball player of all time.

Of course, the Main Man here is Michael B. Jordan, the popular actor from "Fruitvale Station," "The Black Panther," and the "Creed" movies, now playing the miltary-lifer father of the youngster mentioned on the marquee. As based on the true story -- and the essay-inspired book of the same name (only with the tagline: "A Story of Love and Honor") -- Dad starts writing this moving "Journal" of living, breathing advice for his infant son while serving in Iraq. 

Honestly, the whole sad tale is just about given away in the movie's first 30 seconds, when an assortment of fast-reel war images don't leave much doubt about the future of First Sgt. Charles M. King. Still, as directed by superstar Denzel Washington, featuring flashbacks and jump-aheads and mention of the beauty of Christmas in New York without even capturing one bit of proof on film, there are two hours to fill here and, thus, eye-rolling romance becomes the way to go.

That means a blow-by-blow account of King's gentlemanly meeting and courting of New York Times reporter Dana Canedy (Chante Adams of "The Photograph" fame), her reluctance to believe that love might happen with this patriot/stud, and the most memorable affecting climax, lifted by the titled Jordan (teen actor Jalon Christian) getting to keep the tear ducts flowing.

Note to Ohio readers: Canedy, who penned the NY Times piece on which her book is based, previously worked as a reporter at the Plain Dealer in Cleveland, where Sgt. King lived. The city is not credited in the film, but Canedy's character does mention some apparent work-related business in Akron. Stay for the movie's end credits which actually do note King's final resting place.    

("A Journal for Jordan" opens tomorrow, Christmas Day, at theaters everywhere.)

Rated "PG-13" by MPAA: some sexual content, partial nudity, drug use and language; 2:10; $ $ and 1/2 out of $5

Coming tomorrow: Christmas and "The Tender Bar"

And, if you missed our first 10 offerings: "Nightmare Alley (Day 1)," "Spider-Man: No Way Home, "Swan Song," "The Lost Daughter," "Mother/Android," "The Novice, "Sing 2," "Licorice Pizza," "Beanie Mania" and "The Matrix Resurrections")

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