A holiday gift for doc lovers. “Jingle Bell Rocks!” explores alternative Christmas tunes you may have heard only once or twice, or perhaps not at all. It’s a gonzo mix of interviews and music concocted by first-time feature film director Mitchell Kezin. He’s not only the filmmaker; he’s the head cheerleader. His passion for alternative holiday music is clear from start to finish.
As far as musical styles go, there’s something in “Jingle Bell Rocks!” for everyone. If you’re expecting to hear about the origins of elite holiday songs like”White Christmas” or “Silver Bells,” forget about it. The interview subjects in this unusual documentary include Wayne Coyne (“The Flaming Lips”), Joseph “Rev Run DMC” Simmons, be-bopper Bob Dorough, soul singer Clarence Carter and El Vez (Chicano Elvis). This is the most diverse group of music enthusiasts you could ever expect to see in the same film. Calypso, jazz, rock, folk, punk, rap and novelty songs are all covered.
Best of all, it gives you a wonderful sense of what it’s like to be a devoted vinyl collector. Kezin’s beloved hobby can be admired by anyone with a penchant for collecting things. The doc covers his efforts to sniff out rare albums and 45’s like someone might on a reality TV show. But, this is no “Pawn Stars” or “Storage Wars.” This is special. All of us know holiday music. You love it. Or, you hate it. But, you can’t miss it each year between Halloween and New Year’s Day.”
And, religion doesn’t really matter. As Kezin points out, some of the best Christmas songs are written by Jews. Ha! I actually knew that, but it’s fun to be reminded. This is a magical time of year, no matter your faith.
“Jingle Bell Rocks!” is an itty bitty, teeny tiny, little film. In the Dallas area, it’s playing at the historic Texas Theater. Seek it out at your local art house this holiday season. It’s also available for sale or rental online. Grade: B