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Blue Like Jazz (2012)

tomatometer

31

Average Rating: 4.9/10
Critic Reviews: 13
Fresh: 4 | Rotten: 9

No consensus yet.

audience

65

liked it
Average Rating: 3.6/5
User Ratings: 12,554

My Rating

Movie Info

Don, a pious nineteen-year-old sophomore at a Texas junior college, impulsively decides to escape his evangelical upbringing for life in the Pacific Northwest at one ofthe most progressive campuses in America, Reed College in Portland. Upon arrival, Reed's surroundings and eccentric student body proves to be far different than he could possibly imagine from the environment from which he came, forcing him to embark on a journey of self-discovery to understand who he is and what he truly believes.

PG-13,

Drama, Comedy

Aug 7, 2012

$0.6M

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All Critics (42) | Top Critics (14) | Fresh (15) | Rotten (25) | DVD (2)

Just earnest enough to blend its religious theme with a beer-chugging hero for a surprisingly contemporary look at faith.

April 13, 2012 Full Review Source: USA Today
USA Today
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The film's heart is in the right place; it just can't make the rest of its parts function smoothly.

April 13, 2012 Full Review Source: Film.com
Film.com
Top Critic IconTop Critic

An uncommon thoughtfulness about spiritual issues distinguishes this otherwise generic coming-of-age story.

April 13, 2012 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader | Comment (1)
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

"Blue Like Jazz" is a pleasant film, as well-intentioned as the character Don himself, but it ducks the thorniest questions of faith and dogma while patting itself on the back for realism.

April 13, 2012 Full Review Source: New York Post
New York Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It is - somewhat surprisingly, given the heavy-handed subject - neither sanctimonious nor preachy.

April 13, 2012 Full Review Source: Washington Post
Washington Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It tackles existential struggles that many of us grapple with - and the film industry virtually ignores - while doing so in an entertaining way.

April 13, 2012 Full Review Source: San Francisco Chronicle
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Sodom and Gomorrah are paradoxically brought back to life in the form of an Oregon-based liberal-arts college in this Christian recruiting video.

May 26, 2013 Full Review Source: The Patriot Ledger
The Patriot Ledger

Blue Like Jazz certainly breaks the mould in terms what audiences have come to expect from spiritual cinema, but it refuses to take the necessary leap required to fully redefine mainstream audiences' perception of this niche genre.

April 4, 2013 Full Review Source: sbs.com.au
sbs.com.au

A hot mess that somehow manages to somewhat redeem itself by the final frame but sadly not enough to save it from ultimate damnation.

August 25, 2012 Full Review Source: NECN

reveals the shallowness of the college years in which an otherwise legal adult can act like a child well into his 20s

August 22, 2012 Full Review Source: 7M Pictures
7M Pictures

[It] playfully serves up more food for thought than most comedies we've seen so far this decade.

June 15, 2012 Full Review Source: Filmwell

Unlike other 'faith-based' films, it lacks a down-on-your-knees come-to-Jesus moment, presenting its young hero as a conflicted Everyman with the same questions about 'the human dilemma' as any sensitive college freshman.

May 4, 2012 Full Review Source: Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)
Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)

Might make a like-minded double feature with The Way, but Miller's propaganda-lite eventually suffers in comparison.

May 3, 2012 Full Review Source: East Bay Express
East Bay Express

... two-dimensional characters, trite and stilted situations, and awkward, arch dialogue.

April 27, 2012 Full Review Source: Sacramento News & Review
Sacramento News & Review

Blue Like Jazz is a coming-of-age story that lurches around in terms of character and themes, and the result is something a good deal less than it could have been.

April 25, 2012 Full Review Source: Common Sense Media
Common Sense Media

The vocabulary of faith should not be the exclusive property of one small subset of believers; it is heartening to watch a movie that makes that point with such grace.

April 19, 2012 Full Review Source: Beliefnet
Beliefnet

dares to confront its audience, both secular and religious, by honestly dealing with the complexities of religion, politics, and personal identity

April 18, 2012 Full Review Source: Q Network Film Desk
Q Network Film Desk

While one can applaud the desire to offer something less heavy-handed and preachy than the overtly Christian movies that have found their way to theatres in recent years, 'Blue' is too mild and muddled to carry off what it aims for.

April 14, 2012 Full Review Source: One Guy's Opinion
One Guy's Opinion

School days have never been wilder onscreen than in this vividly entertaining and funny clash between a young Christian's sensibilities and the ultimate radicalization into which he is seduced.

April 13, 2012 Full Review Source: Film Journal International
Film Journal International

... not compelling or provocative enough to effectively translate its progressive message for a wider audience.

April 13, 2012 Full Review Source: Cinemalogue.com
Cinemalogue.com

Christian moviegoers will find much to challenge them, but those hoping Don's journey leads him to a clear understanding of the gospel might find it a bit unsatisfying.

April 13, 2012 Full Review Source: Christianity Today
Christianity Today

"Blue Like Jazz" is a movie that apparently wants to do for Jesus what "Garden State" did for The Shins.

April 13, 2012 Full Review Source: Capital Times (Madison, WI) | Comments (2)
Capital Times (Madison, WI)

The primary problem with Blue Like Jazz is that there is no believable character development.

April 13, 2012 Full Review Source: Austin Chronicle | Comments (2)
Austin Chronicle

Audience Reviews for Blue Like Jazz

"Blue Like Jazz" has a lot going for it, especially because it caters to the demographic of confused religious people either in their twenties or thirties. In contemporary film, faith is rarely a theme that is visited without certain intermingling themes. Most of these films either broach leaving religion altogether and finding a new identity, or they remain schmaltzy and renew the character's faith. This film fits better into the second category, while also having an interesting setting, great supporting characters, and feels fresh for college students, especially those in small liberal arts campuses. The story comes from the book of the same name by Donald Miller, and is semi-autobiographical. It certainly feels that way, because there's raw emotion and private introspection into the thoughts of main character Don (Allman), who narrates the film. Don lives his entire life in Texas, going to a Baptist church and hanging out with friends from a local factory where he works. When he realizes that his mother is having an affair with his married youth pastor, he runs away to Portland to go to the infamously liberal Reed College. There he starts raising questions that religion doesn't always allow, and makes friends with several interesting characters, including a newly freed lesbian and the campus' Pope, who hates all religion and favors indecision. The film stays strong as Don starts to understand his own isolation and the reasons why he is rebelling against his faith, but eventually becomes a tangled mess. It's just trying to enclose so many ideas and so many competing storylines that it collapses in on itself. Don's own realizations about himself don't even culminate until the very end of the film, and we never learn what their impact is, and what it means for the character. We also have to deal with child abuse, alienation, and depression in a very short span of time, and though each theme is lighted upon, the film doesn't say much about them. SPOILERS: That and making the Pope into a victim of sexual abuse during confession was really biased and short sighted, which only feeds into the view that anti-theists already have. It felt more like a cheap ploy to wrap everything up than an actual ending, and for that, I find the most fault.
December 3, 2013
FrizzDrop

Super Reviewer

Loved the end. Different from the book but still had aspects that were similar. Thought provoking and quirky.
August 30, 2012
crazydannielle16

Super Reviewer

There has always been a struggle with religion and faith. That is what is obvious to anyone who attends college or anyone who has the capacity to think outside the box (hopefully that would be everyone). No matter how man Sunday school classes you attend or how many times you hear a gospel there will remain the questions that bother your mind until you can't ignore them. Do you really believe? Is there anything besides faith that you can base these beliefs in or are you "strong" enough to let faith be the one thing you can lean on and trust in. It is a tough line to walk and especially in film. There are christian films and then there are secular movies. In every christian film we've seen there is no other dilemma in the world other than the crisis of ones faith. There is never any poor people or cussing, if anything these films feel as wrapped in a bubble as those who refuse to look past the actual state of the world and would rather sit in their safe, squeaky clean world and go to church every Sunday just to hear how much they need to improve as people. What is admirable about "Blue Like Jazz" is that it doesn't try to shy away from the real issues that come along with believing in a God that is so easy to doubt. While this is a small budget indie with unknown actors, the quality of the film and the acting is generally better than you might expect it to be. I was consistently engaged with the conversation that was going on here. It is easy to say that everyone is going to have their own views and we have to live with it, but it is another to actually accept that. That speaks for both sides of the line for the argument of God's existence.
August 22, 2012
Philip Price

Super Reviewer

    1. Penny: You don't even know what you've done, because you don't know the people you've hurt.
    – Submitted by Paul C (24 months ago)
    1. Penny: Don, Everyone's life is full of crap.
    – Submitted by Agatha N (2 years ago)
    1. Don: Sometimes you have to watch someone love something before you can love it yourself. It is as if they are showing you the way.
    – Submitted by Kimberly W (2 years ago)
    1. Boy with Balloon: Mommy, look!
    – Submitted by Dennis T (2 years ago)
    1. Penny: People in Portland don't use umbrellas.
    – Submitted by David R (2 years ago)
    1. The Pope: Dude, watch out. There's a hot lesbian in your bed.
    – Submitted by Ken S (2 years ago)
View all quotes (8)

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