Review: Blue Like Jazz

Plotline snobs and lovers of Donald Miller’s book “Blue Like Jazz” will hate the movie reincarnation of “Blue Like Jazz.”

For example, the protagonist is supposed to be years older and not in college. Penny, the female lead, was not supposed to receive Christ until halfway through. And when did the protagonist’s mother ever get pregnant?

However, if you allow yourself to appreciate the movie on its own, you will see that in many ways the message and visceral response in both the movie and the book is the same.

“Blue Like Jazz” is about stepping outside of what you have been taught about Christianity for your whole life and working out your own salvation. Like Don’s father (the father of the protagonist, that is) said in the film, “Go somewhere they don’t hand you the script and have you copy it.”

The choice to walk away from the conditioned Christian bubble means a choice to write something entirely new, which is not an easy task. It is a story about pain. Pain from personal growth and pain in watching those around you suffer from their own decisions.

Watchers may be challenged as the story struggles with the task of engaging in life. The movie contends, “The human dilemma must be experienced.” It shows that if you sit back in the suburbs and watch life from a distance, you will never fully be able to answer the commission of God because you will not even know the needs around you.

Don travels to the most godless college in the United States and is faced with questions he never even knew were around to be asked.

His first friend was a lesbian. Are her struggles to find love okay?

He meets a “priest” on campus. Is his persona sacrilegious?

His youth pastor impregnates his mother. What does it mean to trust someone or forgive someone that has crushed you? What does it mean to really live?

Or are we all just, as Don said, “Chasing life, even if it’s synthetic”?

This is a movie that leaves you hungry. It presents ideas, struggles, raw questions. And it doesn’t give you an answer to satisfy. It gives you a commission to quest.