A Journal for Jordan Parent Guide
The story is light on overt messaging but heavy on emotional manipulation.
Parent Movie Review
There’s a telling moment in this film when Jordan (Jalon Christian) asks his mother (Chanté Adams) why Americans were fighting the war in which his father died. “It depends,” she replies, “on who you ask.”
Perspective is everything in this production.Depending on your point of view, A Journal for Jordan is a patriotic tribute to the men and women who serve in uniform or it’s a vehicle for anti-war messaging about pointless death or it’s a heartwarming story about the unfading power of love. What you see in this movie probably says more about you than it does about the film itself which is remarkably light on overt messaging and very heavy on emotional manipulation. If you hate movies that are designed to make you cry, give this one a miss.
A Journal for Jordan is based on Dana Canedy’s memoir, an account of her relationship with her fiancé, Charles Monroe King (Michael B. Jordan), who died in Iraq in 2006, months after the birth of their son, Jordan. He also authored the titular journal, a volume filled with memories and hard-earned wisdom. The movie touches on Charles’s military service but that’s ancillary to the main storyline, which focuses on the relationship between Charles and Dana. This isn’t a war film with a romantic subplot: this is a romantic drama involving a soldier.
That distinction is important to keep in mind because this movie has all the beats of a standard romantic drama. There’s the meet-cute, followed by early attraction and growing intimacy, misunderstanding and conflict, and passionate sensual scenes. All that’s missing are the cheesy montages and, frankly, those would have been an improvement. At over two hours, this production is incredibly bloated, and some montages would have sped up the agonizingly slow runtime.
In addition to its length, A Journal for Jordan is also burdened with some surprising negative content. There’s a completely unnecessary moment of adults smoking marijuana as well as scattered cursing. There are also brief battlefield scenes, but they do not contain glamorized bloodshed and are integral to the plot. The big issue for parents will be the amount of sex in the film. Although director Denzel Washington has been careful to arrange sheets in appropriate places on his actors’ anatomies, there is no doubt about the high-octane passion in the film. There are a few scenes where the highly aroused couple remove each other’s clothing, revealing the side of the woman’s breast. The PG-13 rating is well applied here and this show shouldn’t be considered for younger teens.
More mature viewers will likely appreciate the film’s strong emphasis on duty, loyalty, and love. It also features a Black female protagonist whose career as a journalist with The New York Times is a plus in a film universe that so often pigeonholes minority characters. Her example of professional success will resonate with many viewers. Watching Dana and Charles learn to accommodate each other’s values and priorities is a reminder that love, like career success, doesn’t come easily and takes work. Critically, all of these fine messages are balanced by the inevitable pain of loss. Whether you’re willing to invest your time in a film that ends up in heartbreak is up to you.Directed by Denzel Washington. Starring Michael B. Jordan, Chanté Adams, Tamara Tunie. Running time: 132 minutes. Theatrical release December 25, 2021. Updated December 27, 2021
Watch the trailer for A Journal for Jordan
A Journal for Jordan
Rating & Content Info
Why is A Journal for Jordan rated PG-13? A Journal for Jordan is rated PG-13 by the MPAA Rated PG-13 for some sexual content, partial nudity, drug use and language.
Violence: There are several brief scenes showing military vehicles exploding. Soldiers are seen on fire. A memorial service for deceased soldiers is shown. A man is shown dying from a bloody chest wound and blood oozes from his nose. A schoolboy is seen with a black eye and shares stories of racist bullying. Television clips of 9/11 are briefly seen. An officer yells at a recruit in basic training.
Sexual Content: There is mention of a one night stand. A woman changes her shirt: her back and bra straps are visible. A woman is seen from behind as she pumps breast milk. Milk leaks onto her blouse. A woman is given a vibrator as a gift; she is examining it when her child walks into her bedroom. An ummarried man and woman are frequently seen kissing passionately. Sometimes they undress each other. They are seen lying naked in bed with sheets strategically covering breasts and genitals. There is a scene of full rear male nudity in a non-sexual context. One passionate scene gives a brief glimpse of the side of a woman’s breast. Sexual intercourse is implied. An unmarried woman tells her boyfriend she wants to have a baby.
Profanity: There are approximately two dozen swear words in the film, including ten scatological curses, ten terms of deity, and a handful of minor curse words. Vulgar terms for anatomy are also used. A racial slur for African Americans is used.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Adults smoke marijuana and joke about being stoned. Adults drink alcohol in several social situations.
Page last updated December 27, 2021
A Journal for Jordan Parents' Guide
For more information about Charles Monroe King and Dana Canedy you can follow these links.
The New York Times: From Father to Son, Last Words to Live By
History vs. Hollywood: A Journal for Jordan
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Another story about a heroic soldier is told in The Last Full Measure. This movie details the bravery of William H. Pitsenbarger, a pararescueman with the USAF in the Vietnam War.