Preteen girl looking at a cell phone with her parents

Personalized picks at your fingertips

Get the mobile app on iOS and Android

Parents' Guide to

A Journal for Jordan

By Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 13+

Emotional memoir doesn't translate to film; sex, war scenes.

Movie PG-13 2021 131 minutes
A Journal for Jordan Movie Poster

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 13+

Based on 1 parent review

age 13+

Great story and delivery, some uncomfortable moments

Our family saw this film together, and we were able to talk about some deep themes and appreciate the emotion the movie brought to the surface. A few, small, glaring moments did make us uncomfortable as the stars were in bed together in several scenes and the discussion turned sexual. The sex scene itself is abbreviated but the small amounts of nudity are enough to make a parent blush sitting next to young teens or tweens. We also found a few comments from our fellow movie-goers to be distracting, as they appreciated the physique of the actors. As a story, this is stirring and emotional. You are almost guaranteed to tear up. The love of the parental figures for Jordan is well developed and expressed. The discussions of their family histories and the frankness of their conversations, are refreshing and feel very honest. Seeing this movie with your kids and not discussing the weighty themes would be a missed opportunity; once you've gotten through the moments that make you blush, use this as a time to speak to young men about emotionality, courage, and gentlemanliness; and to young women about setting boundaries, waiting for love, and choosing to love through hard times. An edited version of this story to remove the brief sex scene and tame the language would not hurt the story or diminish its impact.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (1 ):
Kids say (1 ):

Washington's adaptation boasts talented actors but lacks a nuanced script and the on-screen chemistry necessary to elevate the drama beyond the sentimental. Since his directorial debut, Antwone Fisher, the actor-turned-director has consistently taken his time between projects; usually the result is a highly personal and evocative film, like the excellent stage-to-screen adaptation of Fences, in which he also starred. So it's disappointing that this, his fourth feature film (and third adaptation) misses the mark. It's not that it's bad -- because it's never a waste to see Jordan act in any film role -- but it's uneven, oddly paced, and feels more like a predictably maudlin Lifetime drama than an effective narrative film. Part of the problem is the dialogue and the forced, almost sitcom-ish way that Dana interacts with her circle of friends (which, oddly, lacks one Black or Brown person). The bantering friends, who wax poetic about Charles' body, aren't developed enough to also be the support network she needs after he dies. And there are several unresolved issues that the script introduces but never develops (like Charles' daughter from a previous marriage or Dana's issues with her father's infidelity).

Another problem is that, despite their individual appeal, there's not a lot of romantic chemistry between Adams and Jordan. What passes a chemistry test can be subjective to the viewer, but here it just doesn't burn up the screen. It's clear that this is a beautiful real-life story of a couple's love and what an officer left behind for his partner and son to treasure long after his death. That makes the idea of reading the book appealing, to dig deeper into the events that inspired the movie. If anything, this is a tale that should be explored as a documentary to celebrate Canedy and King's love -- and his legacy.

Movie Details

Inclusion information powered by

Did we miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate