Jingle Bell Rocks! (2013)

<strong class="MovieTitle">Jingle Bell Rocks!</strong> (2013)

(On TV, February 2019) If you’re looking for a documentary to play while you’re putting up Christmas decoration, you can do far worse than Jingle Bell Rocks!, which studies not only Christmas music but the obsessive collectors (all of them men) of said holiday albums. This is a film about the thrill of hunting through used record stores, the joy of discovering good material among the dreck, and the fun for these collectors of meeting the recording artists. The collectors interviewed for the documentary claim that they’re not obsessive, not crazy and not weird (well, I think some of them may agree that they’re a bit weird) but we don’t care: their enthusiasm and their passion is endearing. Of course, this wouldn’t be a Christmas-themed documentary without exploring our relationship with that holiday. Then there is the music itself, which is a lot like listening to a good mix tape. (And yes, they do talk about mix tapes.) It comes wrapped in a history of Christmas music through the rock generation and into rap—including an extended discussion of one of my own holiday classics, “Christmas in Hollis”, through “Back-Door Santa”. Despite the seemingly straightforward subject matter, there are a lot of surprises in Jingle Bell Rocks! : At any given moment, you’re liable to hear from director John Waters, to touch upon the racial aspect of Christmas iconography, or feature an appearance by Doctor Demento. The climax of the film happens as it works its way to re-create a pivotal song for the film’s lead collector. As I’ve mentioned, Jingle Bell Rocks! is an ideal film to leave on the TV as you’re putting up decorations: It’s great background music, and you can drop in and listen to the film’s highlights at any time.

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