Blue Like Jazz

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
Blue Like Jazz Movie Poster Image
Coming-of-age college comedy has muddled messages.
  • PG-13
  • 2012
  • 106 minutes

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Blue Like Jazz's message is a bit mixed. It starts out by making fun of religion for being hypocritical but eventually seems to say that religion and spirituality still have much to offer people on a very personal level.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The main character learns how he can fit into his new school environment while still staying true to himself and helping others.


Occasional mild verbal conflicts and arguments. The main characters are arrested for painting graffiti on a billboard.


Characters are definitely thinking about sex, and there's strong flirting and innuendo, though no nudity or kissing. A giant condom is used in a prank. A character is said to be pregnant.


Fairly strong language includes "s--t," "bitch," "dumb," "hell," "retards," "a--hole," "ass," "hell," and "idiot."


The main character drinks Red Bull during his drive to school. Several cans spill from his car when he arrives. He owns a Dell computer.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

College students are shown overindulging quite often -- drinking beer and other alcohol, eating pot brownies, etc. One character chews tobacco. References to being drunk and high. The hero works in a factory that makes little individual packets of communion wine (they look like blood); viewers see several of these packets, and characters are seen drinking them.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Blue Like Jazz, which was based on a semi-autobiographical book by Donald Miller, is a coming-of-age story about a religious teen who chooses to attend a very liberal college. The school is shown as being free-spirited and full of bad/odd behavior, though the movie doesn't show anything extreme. Characters think and talk about sex quite often (though there's no nudity); language includes "s--t," "bitch," and more. Underage drinking and drug use (pot) are fairly prevalent; overindulgence is portrayed as comic.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byBperk23 October 30, 2012


This movie is for those that are open in their faith and can take the openness of what they're talking about.
Teen, 13 years old Written byitsthenerd_ July 10, 2013

How Did This Get Rated So Low?

I have to say that I was shocked when I clicked on this title and it was rated 2 stars! I honestly have to say that this wasn't a classic but was none the... Continue reading

What's the story?

Don (Marshall Allman) lives in Texas with his single mom (Jenny Littleton) and is an active member of his church. But when he learns that his mom has been having an affair with the youth pastor, Don hits the road for Reed College in Oregon, where he hopes to find himself anew among the liberal, unique, and artistic student body. He meets a cynical, wise lesbian, Lauryn (Tania Raymonde), and a fellow dressed up as the Pope (Justin Welborn) and falls for a cute blonde activist, Penny (Claire Holt). Over the course of a year, Don tries many things (tall bikes, Malaysian cocktail tennis, etc.), but it's not until the year-end blow-out party that an unexpected ceremony helps him find his niche.

Is it any good?

BLUE LIKE JAZZ is a coming-of-age story that lurches around in terms of character and themes, and the result is something a good deal less than it could have been. To start off, Don makes his first big decision based on an overreaction, and most of his dramatic arc springs from similar situations. Then, when he first arrives at school, he's shy and full of wonder, but within a few scenes, he has suddenly turned outgoing, bold, and daring.

Likewise, the dialogue -- adapted by director Steve Taylor, original author Donald Miller, and co-writer Ben Pearson -- seems more intent on creating nifty little quips than in capturing any kind of emotional journey or finding connections between characters. In the end, whatever kind of messages Blue Like Jazz is trying to convey about religion or spirituality are ultimately muddled.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Blue Like Jazz's sex talk and innuendo. How much of it is just hot air? Which of the teens are interested in a real connection?

  • What is the movie trying to say? Is it pro- or anti-religion? Is it pro- or anti-spirituality? What does spirituality without religion mean?

  • What makes college kids drink and experiment with drugs? Is it peer pressure? Are the consequences of overindulgence portrayed realistically?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love coming-of-age tales

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