Starring: Michael B Jordan, Chante Adams, Jalon Christian, and Robert Wisdom.
Directed By: Denzel Washington
Where I Watched It: VOD
English Audio Description Available?: Yes
Narration Provided By: The Media Access Group
Narrated By Ingrid Tudor
The Plot: A single mother (Adams) faces the struggle of raising her young son, jordan, by herself after her fiancée died. However, before his passing, he wrote down all of his hopes, dreams, thoughts, and wisdom for his son in a journal, which she reads to him when he’s too young to read, and alter gives it to him when he’s old enough to appreciate it. Most of the film is told in flashbacks, with us occasionally checking up on Jordan as he grows up.
Let’s Just Talk About This Movie: Normally, I would break this down into a what works and what doesn’t work, but doing that here, with someone’s real life story, based on a book written by the son that Charles king left behind after losing his life fighting for our country just feels like not the right thing to do.
Are there things that bugged me? Sure. there’s a scene where our lead ropes Charles into needlessly driving her back to her hotel because she left her cell phone, and this is somewhere in the 90’s. We just were not that attached to cell phones as we are today, because back then they only had the one function, which was to make calls. They weren’t quite the life line they are today, and they were huge, so carrying around a gigantic phone that didn’t have great body life is something that the movies make look fun, but was unrealistic. We actually used to have phones where you could have batteries on the charger, so you could detach the back, and replace with your alternate battery so you could keep going if needed. That felt like the 2022 interpretation of the 90’s.
But, it’s not those little things that keep A Journal For Jordan from greatness, nor is it the reason everyone seems to be hating on this film. In fact, the story or film have very little to do with why people and critics have been giving this low marks. The bar was set too high. This film was announced, and with Jordan starring, and Washington directing, people assumed it was Oscar bait. It’s not. not even close.
It ends up being an elevated Lifetime mmovie, or the kind of thing that you expect to see “based on a book by Nicholas Sparks” in the trailers. It wouldn’t be that far fetched. He did write a rather massive hit about a book that was written to try and bring a woman back from her Alzheimer’s so she could enjoy a moment of clarity with her husband. So, books, and sappy movies about sappy books is kind of his thing. But when you announce the director of Fences, The Great Debaters, and Antwone Fisher, there’s an expectation. Instead, we get a film that feels like it could have been directed by anyone.It felt so totally opposite from Denzel Washington, I actually think he’s lying about having had directed it.
There’s nothing here to suggest that he directed it, rather it has a very similar vibe to something like OWN’s TV series Delilah, where it is light, fluffy, and balancing a romantic arc, while attempting to remain GP-13, somewhat wholesome, and presenting a story that seems to have purpose and resolve. But everything from the score to the acting feels like this was made for tV. There really isn’t anything wrong with the film, it’s just incredibly average, and when you set a bar for a film by attaching a director like Denzel, when he delivers this, you have more questions than answers. I think most critics reviews were colored by the fact that he was the director, and he’s capable of so much more.If anyone let this film down, he did.
I didn’t dislike this movie, but at the same time, I also never found myself fully committed to a story that was just so laser focused on simplicity that it forgot both the gravity of the situations most of the time, and ended up glossing over them, and couldn’t set up what would easily have been a solid emotional impact. We are at a distance always from this cast, and from this film, either from a number of factors, ranging from poor direction, to a film score that anyone could have written and does nothing for this project, to a stable of actors giving rather mediocre performances (including Michael B Jordan). A Journal For Jordan never seems to aspire to want to be a great film, and seems quite relaxed in its knowledge that it could have gone straight to streaming or the Hallmark channel.
If I had seen “Directed By Tyler Perry”, that wouldn’t have surprised me at all, and would have sent me into this with a diffferent set of expectations. And perhaps, in the grand career of Perry, I might have looked at this with a different lens, and seen something that was better than his average. Instead, this might be the worst thing Washington has directed, but luckily for Michael B Jordan, he’ll always have Fantastic Four.
The Blind Perspective: I didn’t really have any major problems with this narration. This film is probably really easy to describe. It does well with the romantic elements, always commenting on the sexier side of things. Characters are referred to as muscular, in a way that insinuates some leering is being done. If the audio had gotten any more descriptive, the film would have lost it’s PG-13 rating. But seriously, good work. I know the blind community is having a moment, trying to get more outfits and wardrobe choices thrown in, and I’ll say that there are times in this film where you know what a character is wearing because it is relevant to the story. And there are times when it is not. Oddly though, there are plenty of times when it is, so you will pick up a lot on wardrobe choices in this.
Final Thoughts: I didn’t hate this film, but I also didn’t like it. It’s just average. In so many ways, it just comes out very average, and many people are unfairly kicking this film because a Michael B Jordan/Denzel Washington project should not have been average. Denzel Washington has lost his touch. There is nothing, not one element in this film, that suggest to me that he directed this, that he ever made a choice he cared about, or wanted to create the best project possible. This feels like he phoned in the direction, possibly literally from Zoom during the pandemic.
Final Grade: C