Blue Like Jazz Review

Posted: March 21, 2012 in Film Review
Tags: , , , , , ,

Director Steve Taylor is no stranger to “Christian” controversy, and his new film Blue Like Jazz, based on the best-selling book of the same name by Donald Miller, is sure to help cement this reputation. Blue Like Jazz is a raw, edgy, adult-themed film, and as Taylor admitted at a recent pre-release screening (the film opens April 13): “We earn every bit of our PG-13 rating.”
Blue Like Jazz is a film about sin, forgiveness, and redemption. Much like the Prodigal Son, the protagonist Don (played very convincingly by Marshall Allman) is the “good kid,” wholesome and upstanding, who sets off on his journey of self-discovery: to experience the world and all it has to offer, to sow the proverbial wild oats, and to see how the other-half lives. Don, on finishing high school, has narrowed down his choice of colleges: the Christian college his mother recommends, or the liberal Reed College (known as the most godless campus in America) that his father has pulled strings in order for Don to gain admission. (Unlike the Prodigal Son, you will not find the good and patient father waiting at home for the wayward son. This father – wonderfully and aptly portrayed by Eric Lange – represents the pull of the world and the temptations of the flesh.) When the church lets him down, Don heads off to Reed College for a new beginning, a new life, and new friends (Claire Holt, Tania Raymonde, Justin Welborn). He desires to experience all the things the church has kept from him all these years: course language, adult themes, condoms, alcohol, drugs, sex and rock ‘n roll – and all other forms of rebellion and debauchery in between. Ah, but poor Don – he carries around in his back pocket the knowledge of God – and this thing called a conscience eats away at him. Here lies his conundrum – and on his journey to self-awareness, Don finds that self-awareness leads to self-centeredness, which can lead to pain and hurting others.
Blue Like Jazz is a well-made and very funny movie. But be forewarned that the butt of many of the jokes is traditional Christianity, the church, and “religion,” so if this would offend you, or if you have grown tired of these institutions being the villain, don’t bother with this film. If, on the other hand, you can laugh at “Christian” foibles and church ridiculousness, you will find yourself laughing hard and laughing often. And although God, forgiveness, and benevolence are key themes in the film, the Gospel message of the cross is kept hidden.
This is not a wholesome, family film. I will not be taking my 14-year-old to see it, but older teens may gain valuable insights into the struggles and lessons that Don’s real-life experiences lead him through. Blue Like Jazz is authentic, realistic, edgy, coarse, poignant, thought provoking, fun, and very funny. Hmmmm – sounds like real life.

  1. […] are dealt out liberally, and the humor is not mean-spirited jabs at church and religion (like Blue Like Jazz and many secular films), but true-to-life funny. Who doesn’t know a guy like parking attendant […]

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