Mary Poppins Returns
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All Critics (40)
| Top Critics (14)
| Fresh (15)
| Rotten (25)
Just earnest enough to blend its religious theme with a beer-chugging hero for a surprisingly contemporary look at faith.
The film's heart is in the right place; it just can't make the rest of its parts function smoothly.
An uncommon thoughtfulness about spiritual issues distinguishes this otherwise generic coming-of-age story.
"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.
It is - somewhat surprisingly, given the heavy-handed subject - neither sanctimonious nor preachy.
It tackles existential struggles that many of us grapple with - and the film industry virtually ignores - while doing so in an entertaining way.
Sodom and Gomorrah are paradoxically brought back to life in the form of an Oregon-based liberal-arts college in this Christian recruiting video.
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.
A hot mess that somehow manages to somewhat redeem itself by the final frame but sadly not enough to save it from ultimate damnation.
reveals the shallowness of the college years in which an otherwise legal adult can act like a child well into his 20s
[It] playfully serves up more food for thought than most comedies we've seen so far this decade.
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.
"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.
Loved the end. Different from the book but still had aspects that were similar. Thought provoking and quirky.
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.
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