A Journal For Jordan Review
Zoe Wiebe ‘25 / Emertainment Monthly Assistant Film Editor
With a great cast and heart-felt premise, A Journal for Jordan could have been a sweet movie about a father’s love for his son. However its lazy writing and trite plot took away from its overall message. Spoilers ahead.
The movie is based on a book by Dana Canedy written as a letter to her son, Jordan. A Journal for Jordan begins with single mother Dana, doing her best to balance her position at the New York Times with being a single mother who is grieving her fiance’s death. Feeling the time is right to document the story of her relationship with her late fiance, First Sergeant Charles Monroe King, for her son, she sits down to write the story. The movie then follows Dana and Charles’ meeting and long distance relationship. During Charles’ deployment in Iraq, Dana gives birth to Jordan. Soon after Jordan’s birth, Charles visits him and Dana, but quickly has to return to Iraq. Before he leaves, Dana gives him a journal for fathers to write to their children. The movie then jumps forward to 2018 where Dana decides that it is time to give Jordan his father’s journal. After reading the journal, Jordan plans a trip to D.C. to visit his father’s grave and hold a memorial service for him. From then on, Jordan uses the journal to connect with his father’s memory.
For a movie titled A Journal for Jordan, the titular journal makes few appearances and is only mentioned at the bookends of the film. The misleading synopsis, “First Sgt. Charles Monroe King keeps a journal for his newborn son while stationed overseas,” makes it seem as though the movie will be about Charles’ time overseas as he divulges his wisdom into a journal to be passed on to his son. In reality, the bulk of the movie centered on Dana and Charles’ romance. There is nothing wrong with portraying their romance, but the title and the synopsis lead the audience to believe that the film will be about the journal.
A Journal for Jordan seems to be a clever title because the movie is a mother’s letter to her son about a father’s journal to his son. However, the movie seemed to try to be a journal for Jordan on so many levels that it almost entirely forgot that it was supposed to be about a journal. The audience only sees one moment of Charles writing in the journal and only a few excerpts of advice from the journal are conveyed in the film. Additionally, it seems at the beginning that the entire movie is a letter from Dana to Jordan. However, this theme does not carry through the whole of the movie and the audience all but forgets about it until the very end. The movie also contains multiple sexual elements that a mother would not likely relate to her son, which obscures the idea that it is a mother’s letter to her son. These sexual scenes take up most of the movie which further overshadows the journalistic elements.
A Journal for Jordan is also lazily written and plays heavily into cliches and stereotypes. Charles and Dana’s romance, while sweet, was cliched and often boring. It plays into the “second chance” romantic movie trope because Charles has been married and divorced and Dana is his second chance at love. Like most movies that follow this trope, Charles flirts awkwardly and has several idiosyncrasies that demonstrate that he hasn’t been in a relationship for a long time. The movie also plays into some out-played cliches. For example, when Dana takes Charles to the Met to see a Monet painting, Dana asks Charles if he likes the painting. He shakes his head and says “I love it,” which the audience could see coming from a mile away. The movie also played into “gay best friend” stereotypes. Dana has a few close friends from work, one of whom is a gay man. He simply exists in the movie to contribute “catty” remarks, which invalidates gay people as having legitimate contributions to a relationship. Further, when Dana and Charles have a fight, all it takes to resolve it is an apology and she immediately forgives him. It’s this type of easy solution writing that plagues the entire film. As a whole, the movie lacks any surprises and most of its plot points are played-out and unnecessary. The movie’s overplayed stereotypes and plot cause it to get lost in the sea of thousands of other bland romance movies.
Although the movie was cliched with overplayed themes, the ending was emotional and portrayed a father’s love for his son and fiance. Ultimately, A Journal for Jordan tried to be too many things and lost itself in the plot.