Blue Like Jazz

 
Coming-of-age college comedy has muddled messages.
  • Review Date: April 13, 2012
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Release Year: 2012
  • Running Time: 106 minutes

What parents need to know

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

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

Violence

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

Sex

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.

Language

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

 
Consumerism

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.

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.

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?

QUALITY
 

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.

Families can talk 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

Theatrical release date:April 13, 2012
DVD release date:August 7, 2012
Cast:Claire Holt, Marshall Allman, Tania Raymonde
Director:Steve Taylor
Studio:Roadside Attractions
Genre:Comedy
Run time:106 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:mature thematic material, sexuality, drug and alcohol content, and some language

This review of Blue Like Jazz was written by

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Quality

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  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
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  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Teen, 13 years old Written byitsthenerd_ July 10, 2013
age 13+
 

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 less enjoyable. It held up. It was funny, and had a cool storyline. I loved everything about this movie, it touches on a topic that needs to be talked about more. A great growing up tale, and it teaches us that even when we are faced awkward situations, we should always show integrity and stand up for what we believe in.
What other families should know
Great messages
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Adult Written byBperk23 October 30, 2012
age 14+
 

Spiritual

This movie is for those that are open in their faith and can take the openness of what they're talking about.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking

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