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Blue Like Jazz
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
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.
- Parents say
- Kids say
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.
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?
- In theaters: April 13, 2012
- On DVD or streaming: 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
For kids who love coming-of-age tales
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.