Saturday, February 02, 2013

Blue Like Jazz

I loved Donald Miller’s Blue Like Jazz. And sadly I missed the movie when it hit theaters. But the DVD is out, so last night my hubby and I watched it.

Unlike the book, which is straight memoir, the film takes episodes in the book and weaves a plot out of them.  When young Donald discovers his mom is having an affair with his fundy Texas church’s youth pastor, Donald takes his likable pot-head dad up on his offer to leave and go to Reed College in Portland, Oregon. There Donald parties hard and tries to leave behind every shred of his previous sub-culture. And he’s dead-set on conforming to his new world by being a non-conformist. But he discovers it’s tougher than he thought to carve out a worldview devoid of any theological ramifications.

The film is quirky. It shows Oregon (love that!—my old stomping grounds), and it generally avoids stereotypes.  It’s the first Christian-produced film of which I’m aware that portrays believers as really, really imperfect while showing unbelievers as totally likable characters. But ironically, in seeking to avoid stereotype, the filmmakers do show the fundy group as one a big caricature. I’m no fundy, but it still seemed to undermine some of the film’s authenticity.  
Nevertheless, I highly recommend this film. It's genuinely funny. (Hilarious to see the real Donald Miller playing a bit part in the film as a patron of Powell’s Book Store.) And it deals with important themes. I once heard Steve Taylor, a driving force behind this movie, say that not every film with a Christian world view should be safe for the whole family. I agree. (Les Mis comes to mind.) And warning: this one definitely is not. 

Four stars.

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