About 7 years ago I was Browsing through the grocery store book table and came upon a really catchy title, "Blue Like Jazz" (Non Religious thoughts on Christian Spirituality) By Donald Miller.
I watched the finished Film project based on the NYT best selling book at a preview showing last night by Director Steve Taylor at a Mall Cineplex, and I have to tell you I was blown away. There are some stellar acting performances by Marshall Allman (True Blood, Mad Men) as Don Miller, Claire Holt (Vampire Diaries) as Penny, but I particularly liked Justin Welborn's gritty and very realistic performance as the "Agnostic Pope."
This is not Your father's Christian movie by any stretch as the book so beloved by millions is not either. Don, a 19 year old College student in Texas decides he has to get away from the hypocrisy of his own family and church and at the prompting of his hard drinking, jazz loving father bolts unexpectedly for Reed College known for Genius IQs and heathen beer drinking festivals.
Befriended by an attractive lesbian (Tanya Raymonde,TV show Lost) and a Campus appointed "Pope", Don begins to explore a world he has never known or even knew existed.
As Don tries to escape his upbringing by a single mom who simultaneously sits in the pews of the Church of his childhood while having an affair with the Youth Pastor, he finds that running from God is a tricky proposition and not easily accomplished.
The beautiful Penny (Claire Holt) catches Don's eye and he begins the machinations of trying to catch and hold her attention. Unfortunately for Don, the campus Pope drags him into a prank on a local Church that just happens to be his new lady friend's house of worship.
Thankfully, Don realizes the error of his ways and begs his new love interest's forgiveness, he begins to find out that even in the midst of his rebellion and rejection of his upbringing on "The most Godless Campus in America" there's no running or hiding from God.
There may be a few that might not like this film because of it's graphic and realistic talk about sex, hypocrisy in the Church, and a scene at the Renaissance Fair with depictions of College partying, but, having attended a large state university myself I can tell you these depictions are very realistic. In fact, the films Director speaking to us after our screening said that they have already been criticized by other Christian Film makers. The irony is that most of these critics of the book and the film haven't even seen the movie or read the book and have taken statements by the author completely out of context, and are probably the very people that should sit down and watch it all the way through.
Once again, director (and former Christian rock music star) Steve Taylor has produced something quite edgy. But, as a former Band mate of Mr. Taylor's, I can guarantee you this...you will definitely walk away from the theater thinking more deeply about your faith and how it should work out in your own life, even if it makes you uncomfortable in the process...And that's a good thing.
Blue Like Jazz is rated PG 13 and earns that rating. I wouldn't recommend taking someone under 14 unless they are very mature.
Remember,Don't shoot me...I'm just the Sax Player