Blue Like Jazz (2012) - Rotten Tomatoes

Blue Like Jazz (2012)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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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. -- (C) Roadside Attractions
PG-13 (for mature thematic material, sexuality, drug and alcohol content, and some language)
Comedy , Drama
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
Box Office:

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Marshall Allman
as Don Miller
Claire Holt
as Penny
Justin Welborn
as The Pope
Jenny Littleton
as Don's Mom
Eric Lange
as The Hobo
Will McKinney
as Jordan
David Alford
as Priest
Jeff Obafemi Carr
as Dean Bowers
Jeffrey Buckner Ford
as James Larkin
Traber Burns
as Phillipe Nouvel
Barak Hardley
as Town Crier
Marin Miller
as Reed Activities Receptionist
Josh Childs
as Bookstore Manager
Becky Fly
as Professor
Scott Kerr
as Houston Pastor
Valerie Parker
as Aqualike Babe
Donald Miller
as Trendy Writer
Terra Strong
as Lauryn's Friend
Bobby Daniels
as Convenience Store Clerk
Travis Nicholson
as Book Store Clerk
Erin McGarry
as Debate Moderator
Ciana Griggs
as Sophie
Chuck Willis
as Robot #1
Zephyr Benson
as Robot #2
Rhyan Schwartz
as Bicyclist
Robert Fitzgerald
as Black Jesus
Austin Johnson
as Drunk Freshman
Alexander Tan
as Boy with Balloon
Henry Flenory
as Prison Guard
John Birkel
as Brody
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Critic Reviews for Blue Like Jazz

All Critics (40) | Top Critics (14)

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

Full Review… | April 13, 2012
USA Today
Top Critic

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

Full Review… | April 13, 2012
Top Critic

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

Full Review… | April 13, 2012
Chicago Reader
Top 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.

Full Review… | April 13, 2012
New York Post
Top Critic

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

Full Review… | April 13, 2012
Washington Post
Top Critic

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

Full Review… | April 13, 2012
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Blue Like Jazz

This film is overall a fine flick, and is notable for the work of Jason Marsden, who puts in his greatest effort since his portrayal of Professor Baldini in 2011's Pizza Man.

Arnold Ziltman
Arnold Ziltman

"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.

Spencer S.
Spencer S.

Super Reviewer

Loved the end. Different from the book but still had aspects that were similar. Thought provoking and quirky.

Dannielle Albert
Dannielle Albert

Super Reviewer

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