‘Jingle Bell Rocks!’ – Cult Christmas music free on Kanopy

Christmas music aficionado Mitchell Kezin turns filmmaker to document his passion for the most unusual, eccentric, and unbelievable Christmas songs ever released for Jingle Bell Rocks! (2014).

This isn’t about the beloved hits everyone knows. It’s about forgotten greats (Nat King Cole’s devastating “The Little Boy that Santa Claus Forgot,” the director’s favorite song), alternative Christmas songs with a cultural spin (the very sweet “Santa Claus is a Black Man” and “Santa Claus is Sometimes Brown” by El Vez), novelty numbers (“Santa Came on a Nuclear Missile”) and unexpected discoveries (“Close Your Mouth (It’s Christmas)” by the Free Design). A few songs get explored in depth but mostly it’s an easy-going tour through odd and unusual holiday songs and the people who love them, and Kezin visits fellow collectors (from filmmaker John Waters to radio deejay Dr. Demento to Joseph Simmons of Run DMC) to share their favorite songs, and some of the artists who created those unusual holiday tunes.

There’s no real musical history and little cultural or social commentary here. This is a road trip guided by an obsessive who just wants to share is affection for a genre of music that is maligned by many, tolerated by some, and embraced by a few obsessive fans. And it makes for an entertaining curiosity with seasonal interest. While it sometimes edges into racy recordings, it doesn’t feature any foul language or imagery.

Not rated.

Also on DVD and on SVOD through Amazon Video, iTunes, GooglePlay and/or other services. Availability may vary by service.
Jingle Bell Rocks! [DVD]

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Sean Axmaker is a Seattle film critic and writer. He writes the weekly newspaper column Stream On Demand and the companion website, and his work appears at RogerEbert.com, Turner Classic Movies online, The Film Noir Foundation, and Parallax View.

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